It rained most of the day so we stayed inside enjoying Internet until late afternoon when we found a used book store so Dianna could get some more reading material, and then we did a little shopping at Fred Meyer. Really quiet day of rest.
Monday, July 30, 2007
It was only about 85 miles into Fairbanks so we took our time. After looking at a couple RV parks we decided to stay at the Rivers Edge RV Park for two or three nights so we could do laundry and catch up on internet activities.
I went to the Kenworth dealer here in town to see about getting the repairs on the truck. They think it is just an O-ring replacement for the coolant leak, so that will be much less expensive than I had feared. They have also ordered shocks for it and I will have both installed on Wednesday if they arrive from where ever they found them.
In the meantime, I have uploaded to the gallery all the photos we have taken so far on our trip. They are just grouped in broad categories and not edited or titled, but please feel free to look them over. I’m not sure when I will have time to work on them.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
We slept in late this Sunday morning and did not leave Talkeetna until almost noon. The area we drove through was the part we did not see on our way down due to smoke, clouds and rain so it was nice to finally be able to see what we missed. We did catch a glimpse of the top of Denali a couple times, but other than that it was just beautiful views of the Alaska Range.
About 2 PM the truck flashed a warning that the coolant was low so we stopped for lunch and I checked it. Sure enough, it looks like we have a small leak coming out of the front of the engine. I don’t know what it means, but that is one more thing to have looked at when we get to Fairbanks.
We stopped for the night about 25 miles north of the Denali National Park area in a secluded pull out. It appears to be an abandoned gravel pit and the roads down into it mask the highway and get us far enough away that the noise will be less. We discovered that there are wild raspberries growing here so we picked a bunch and Dianna made a pie after our halibut dinner. We had it before bed and it was yummy scrumptious!
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
I took the truck to the alignment shop this morning and they put it on their machine, only to find out that the alignment was not off by enough to cause the tire wear. They think the wear problem was caused by a bad shock absorber on that corner of the truck, and that is one of the possibilities that was suggested by the Michelin dealer yesterday, so they tried to find a replacement. There is none in Anchorage. So, I decided we would head for Fairbanks as planned and see if I can get someone there to order a set and have them installed there.
Then I went back to the Michelin dealer and had them replace the badly worn tire. You think your tires cost a lot. Try $528 for one tire! With rotation and balancing it was a about $650. At least it now rides very smoothly. I’ve just got to get that shock replaced before I head south so another tire does not get damaged beyond repair. Actually, if I do have to drive it back down to the lower 48 it would not be that much of a problem, but I would rather get it fixed before we leave if I can.
This afternoon we went to the Alaska Heritage Air Museum located at Hood Lake by the international airport. They have several old airplanes that were used here in Alaska during the early days of flight up here, as well as some movies you can watch and some other static displays. Afterwards we watched float planes taking off on the lake and made a drive around it. I did not know so many float planes existed in the world. There are hundreds of them. It was interesting.
Then it was back to home, a little grocery shopping and a quiet evening of TV. Tomorrow we will begin our journey away from the coast toward Fairbanks again. It has only gotten up to 70 degrees three times this month in Anchorage and Dianna would like to find some warmer weather. Fairbanks is usually about 10 degrees warmer than Anchorage so that will make her happier.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
This morning I took the truck to the Michelin dealer and the factory rep from the lower 48 just happened to be making his monthly visit. He and the rest of the employees there convinced me that the problem with the front left tire was caused by an alignment problem of some sort, not because the tire was bad. They were actually quite helpful and suggested I have the truck aligned, reverse and rotate the rear tires which would cause the uneven wear pattern on the rear to correct itself, and have the front left tire trued. Truing is a process where the tire is ground down until it is round again. This does remove a considerable amount of tread life, but saves the tire. Unfortunately, there is no one in Alaska who can do that, so it looks like I will have to buy a new tire. I will take the bad one down south with me and perhaps have it trued at some future date when I need another tire.
Afterwards, we went to the coffee shop where we have been getting internet access to pay some bills and check email. Then it was an exercise in futility as we tried to figure out how to get a prescription written for Dianna at a reasonable cost. We went to a clinic where we were informed she would have to be seen by someone and the charges would “start at $100”! After filling out the paperwork Dianna decided she didn’t want to pay that much just to get a prescription. She has been cutting her pills in half & will just continue doing that until they run out.
We came home, paid for another two nights and asked the woman who took our money for a recommendation of a good, reasonably priced steak & seafood restaurant. She told us of the Sea Galley. It reminded us of a Red Lobster, food was pretty good and we brought enough home for another meal. It sure gives us more for our money that way.
Another flooding story:
Dayna called us last night to tell us Chris was drilling a hole in the wall of their living room as he was putting up a dartboard . He hit a water line & flooded their living room & dining room before he could get the water shut off! She said the wood floor they put in just last year has buckled and it may have damaged their dining room table (our old one) as the water spurted across the room. Since they caused the problem she wasn’t sure if the insurance would cover the damage but we’re pretty sure it should. Accidents happen in the home all the time.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
This morning we did laundry. I say we because whenever we do laundry without hookups I have to haul water to and from the trailer while Dianna does the simple stuff with the washing machine and dryer.
This afternoon I took the truck in for service. We have had a front end vibration that has been getting worse lately. They found a loose and worn front right wheel bearing which they replaced. They also found a bad spot on the front left tire which I will take to the Michelin dealer tomorrow for a replacement. I will probably have the front end aligned as well to insure that everything is in good shape.
We watched TV again tonight until bedtime.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
It rained most of the night and most of today as well. We continued toward Anchorage and took the road toward Portage Glacier. It is only a few miles off the main highway along Turnagain Arm, but the weather deteriorated considerably in that distance. When we got to the visitor center the wind was blowing the rain sideways and it was 50 degrees. There were huge whitecaps on the lake below the glacier. They had tour boats to take you out to it, but the weather was so nasty we just looked at the exhibits in the visitor center and continued our journey into Anchorage.
We had thought about driving through the railroad tunnel into Whittier, but the weather discouraged us. I would have to have unhooked the trailer to avoid paying a huge toll, and even then we would have had to negotiate the fee due to the size of our truck. Motorhomes (which we are registered as) under 28 feet long pay $12. Trucks over 12,000 pounds (which we also are) pay $35. We decided it was not worth having to deal with, and I had no desire to get out and unhook the trailer in that weather either.
We continued on into the city and drove directly to Centennial Park Campground where we spent almost two weeks earlier. They saw us coming and came out to tell us our spot was available. Space 10 is very large, secluded and easy to get into with our rig. It also is in a location where I can run a hose to fill with water, and it will get sunshine to charge the batteries if we ever see it again.
We watched a movie on TV before bed. It was a strange English movie that had both of us scratching our heads at time.
Monday, July 23, 2007
We left Homer today and headed back toward Anchorage. The rain never stopped and there were times the fog was so heavy we had to slow to 45 or less. We stopped at the Fred Meyer’s in Soldotna to buy groceries and had a dickens of a time finding a place to park in their parking lot. Like a lot of Wal-Marts, they allow people to camp in their parking lots. The problem is that this is a very busy store and their parking lot is usually very crowded. When you add the dozens of people camping there as well, it is a challenge. I have no problem with the store allowing people to park overnight, but many of these people are just camping here for an extended period which leaves no place for someone with a large rig to park while just shopping. Dumb.
We continued on to Sterling and stopped to see if the campground we had stayed in last week had a space. They didn’t, so we just camped at a pull out along the highway. Lot’s cheaper anyway.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Yesterday was one of the nicest day’s we have had in Homer, or anywhere in Alaska. Today I scheduled a halibut fishing trip and so we woke to one of the worst. It was 50 degrees, rain, low clouds and fog.
I dressed in all the warmest wet weather gear I could and set out. I had on a sweatshirt, my down jacket and my rain suit over that. I wore my insulated rubber boots. Thank goodness for my cold and wet weather motorcycle gear.
The boat was called the Spirit and only held 25 passengers. We motored out of Kachemak Bay and into the ocean about 25 miles from Homer which took about an hour and a half. Although it was rainy and cold, there was little wind and the seas were quite calm. We arrived at the fishing hole and they gave us each deep sea tackle that was baited with herring. It had a three pound weight on it and you just dropped it straight down to the bottom, 400 feet below. Halibut are bottom feeders.
Immediately we were pulling in fish. Sure, there were some tangled lines because people did not do what they were told, but the ocean floor must have been covered in halibut. In only 45 minutes, all but 3 people had caught their limit of two. It took them a little longer, but we were on our way back in an hour. Halibut are not sport fish. They do not fight much and the only work is reeling them up 400 feet from the bottom. My arms got tired quickly.
My two fish were of average size. They were each between 10 and 15 pounds; easily the largest fish I have ever caught. On the way back in, the crew filleted and bagged all the fish. When I got home I weighed it. I had 11 ½ pounds of pure fillet. Guess what we had for dinner. Halibut is considered the filet mignon of fish. It is tender white, boneless meat with absolutely no fish taste. It was good but we baked it and over cooked it. Still, it was very nice.
Considering all the cost the halibut was about $10 a pound which is about $7 a pound less than you can buy it off the docks here for. It probably sells for less down south, but I just couldn’t go to Alaska and not do some deep sea fishing. We’ll see about salmon later.
Dianna had a peaceful day by herself, playing games, working cross stitch and reading.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
We did the most nothing we have done in a long time. We watched the ocean, worked on needlepoint and played games on the computer most of the day. The only time we left was to walk down to the Central Charter office where I signed up for a half day halibut fishing trip on Sunday afternoon and purchased my one day Alaska fishing license.
We watched Amistad on DVD before bed.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
It was another beautiful day so we decided to take a scooter ride. The only area nearby we have not been to is the town of Nikishka, located about 10 miles north of Kenai. It is not included on any of the destination guides as a place worth going. Now we know why. They don’t want you to know about the offshore oil wells, LNG processing plant, fertilizer plant and oil refinery that is located there! We had always been told that all the gasoline and diesel up here was brought up from the lower 48 which was why it was so expensive. Not so. They refine gasoline, diesel and jet fuel right there. Maybe someone up here want’s to keep all that a secret.
Our trip started out with the temperature in the mid 70’s, so we did not put on our heaviest coats. That was a mistake. We are located inland quite a distance from the ocean and the temperature fell by 10 degrees as we neared the coast. I was wearing a decent coat, but Dianna only had on a light jacket. She was getting really cold so we stopped at a Salvation Army thrift store in Kenai and spent $6.50 on a really nice coat. She was fine after that.
We explored some of the side roads around Nikishka and found that it was a nice little town with very complete public services. Its economy is obviously not based on tourism and therefore there is plenty of oil money to do anything they want. We rode down to the harbor which was not much. There is access to a long beach there as well, but it would have required 4 wheel drive. I’ve only got 1 wheel drive.
On the way back we stopped at a McDonalds and had a couple cups of “senior” coffee. We have learned to ask for that since the price in the lower 48 is usually only .25. Up here it is .75, which is still less than half the regular price. By the way, if you ask for a senior soda at McDonalds the price in the lower 48 is only .25 for a small in most places, and you can refill it as many times as you want. Just a few cost saving tips, brought to you by The Frugal Full Time RV’ers.
We leave the campground tomorrow morning and will probably be staying in free places for the next few days. Not sure where we are headed, but possibly back down towards Homer. That means no internet and sporadic blog posting.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
We hooked up the trailer and moved for the first time in almost two weeks. We took the same route out of Anchorage as when we made the trip to Seward, but this time we continued on the main road toward Homer. We stopped in the small town of Sterling where we decided to spend a week. The RV park rates are not bad for full hookups including free wireless, and it will give us some time to get laundry done, relax after a hectic trip to Phoenix and will serve as a good base for visiting the rest of the Kenai Penninsula.
We arrived about 3 pm and didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the day. I finally changed some wiring that allows us to be able to take advantage of cable TV when it is available in the RV park. We have not watched much TV lately, but probably will now that the kids are gone and we are not spending so much time on the road.
One thing we have discovered is that some of the RV parks in Alaska that have free wireless only support 802.11G, not 802.11B which is the older standard. My laptop works fine, but I do not have a wireless antenna for the desktop that supports G. I plan to look around and see if I can find one somewhere, but I’m not holding my breath for success until we get back to Anchorage.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
We had originally planed to leave Anchorage today, but since we did not get home until almost 1 AM we decided to sleep in and stay in town one more night. We tried to go to a downtown theater that had a show about Alaska and about the big earthquake back in the 1960’s. Donna said she enjoyed it when she was there. We had a coupon in our tour book that gave us half off and it had the address printed on it. We wandered up and down the street but all we saw was a vacant lot. We finally asked someone at the performing arts center next door and they told us it was bulldozed earlier this year. The vacant lot is all that is left. Guess that coupon isn’t worth much.
We did some shopping at Wal-mart and we tried to find a faucet repair kit for the bathroom faucet at an Ace Hardware and Home Depot. I had taken the faucet in the bathroom apart since it was leaking, but it was a Moen brand and no one seems to carry replacement parts for them. They have a lifetime guarantee and will mail you free replacement parts if it ever leaks. I decided to just do that and let it leak, but while putting it back together I broke the ceramic disc inside, so now we had to do something. It is a special faucet that fits in only one hole in the counter, unlike most bathroom faucets that have two holes on four inch centers. We went to Lowes, since we knew Home Depot did not have any that would fit, and found one that would work. It was $108 we did not plan to spend. Of course, I had to purchase some adapters so I could hook it to the RV water connections, but finally managed to get it done.
We had planned a quiet evening, but it took until almost 7:30 to finish the plumbing work. Oh well.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
It was a very quiet holiday for us. It rained most of the day and we spent the entire day getting ready to go to Phoenix. Many loads of laundry were done and we checked everywhere in the truck and trailer for kid stuff. All the suitcases were packed and we went to bed early since we have to get up at 3:30 to catch our flight that leaves at 6:05.
In the words of Charles Emerson Winchester, “I only observe one 3:30 per day, and this is not it!”
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
I thought I would see just how long these lazy critters would sleep if no one woke them up. Turns out Nana was the first awake at a little before 11 am. She said she did not go to sleep until about 2. She woke the kids. Hummmmm.
After a lunch of waffles I investigated the step on the trailer. It has been too springy lately and seemed to be getting worse the past few days. I tightened all the bolts a couple days ago but that did not help much. Today I used a flashlight and looked it over closely and found that the metal had cracked where it mounted. I guess it was just from all the use. It had nothing to do with Alaska roads or this trip. I removed it and took it to an auto repair shop up the road to have it welded. Then brought it back and reinstalled it. I know it does not sound like much, but it is very heavy and required crawling around on my back under the trailer. I even had to build a wood scaffold to hold it in place while I bolted it back in. I needed a nap when I was done.
Meanwhile, Nana and the kids played lots of games and watched a DVD. The weather has been lousy today, with sprinkles and low clouds so staying inside was about all anyone wanted to do. There is no sun so the batteries do not recharge very much. We have been using the generator from time to time since we need it on if we are going to do any baking. The inverter is just not enough to run the convection oven for long so running the generator recharges the batteries as well as powering the oven. We can keep going this way for a while, but sun sure would be better for a lot of reasons.
This evening we went shopping and then Nana and Deidra played games, Papa played on the computer and Dom built domino fall down things. They were pretty complex and he had great fun until time for bed. We plan to take a day trip somewhere tomorrow.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Fortunately, we finally got a decent night’s sleep by not getting up until almost 10 AM to a steady downpour. We had breakfast and decided we did not want to make a trip to Homer in that kind of weather so just headed back to Anchorage, stopping along the way for coffee and later for lunch along the Turnagain Arm again. The rain finally quit, but it was overcast and cool so it was not a great day for seeing scenery. We stopped at a candle factory and a jade shop in Girdwood, and of course Nana found things she could not live without in both. She says they are gifts and she is getting her Christmas shopping done early. Right.
Back at camp in Anchorage we unloaded the truck, emptied and filled the tanks on the trailer, and Nana did a load of clothes. Dom was outside playing and came running in to tell us he had seen a fox in the campground. That is not surprising. There was a bear here last week.
We watched Robots on DVD and went to bed around 11.