Alaska - Week 3
July 10, 2022
The weather took a turn this week: the sun disappeared behind thick clouds, humidity in the air went up, and it started to rain. This weather was what we were expecting in the summer in Alaska, so the fact that we had consecutive gorgeous sunny days in the past few weeks was quite a surprise and treat. But because south-central Alaska (and probably the other regions too) has not been getting much rain, the wild fires have been raging… So the rain was greatly welcomed by Alaskans but maybe a little less for us!
Tuesday: Valdez, Ak to Anchorage, Ak (5h / 300 Miles)
After a quiet and restful Monday in Valdez, Victor did the final part of his solo journey from Salt Lake City to Anchorage on Tuesday. Meanwhile in Salt Lake City, Kuan had her final days of rest after the month-long desert adventure, and was getting ready to rejoin the family in Alaska.
The weather was pleasant and sunny, and the views from the highway were absolutely breathtaking.
Wednesday: Anchorage, Ak
Last year while traveling in Mexico, we became close friends with Beth and Will and ended up spending a few weeks traveling together. They insisted that we meet their friends Jodi and Graham if we ever visit Alaska.
We love meeting friends of friends on the road, so we reached out to Jodi and Graham and they kindly offered to let us park in their driveway in Anchorage. Perhaps the bottle of orange wine we brought helped — we became instant friends, went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant (excellent street tacos!) and decided to caravan together to Hope, AK for the weekend to meet up with their friends Jesse and Rose. We were excited to check out a new place with locals!
Thursday: Anchorage, Ak
We started the day with a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, just outside of Anchorage. What we loved about the visit is that the museum not only featured informative panels about native history as one would expect in a traditional museum setting, but also showcased a variety of real-size native dwellings with interpreters to tell their stories. Sadly, we missed the live drumming performance by 15 mins!
In the afternoon, we made our way to Cynosure Brewing, a brewery owned by the aunt and uncle of our good friend Emilie in Salt Lake City. We were (again) warmly welcomed, and their beers were fantastic!
After a home cooked dinner (Jodi is a fabulous cook, and made us baked Mahi Mahi with greens and rice), Graham, who is a talented musician, was visited by two of his singer friends for a jam session. We recorded a short clip of their performance on our phone:
The band is yet to be named, and how grateful we were to be able to listen in on this raw, beautiful performance!
Friday: Anchorage, Ak to Hope, Ak (2h / 90 Miles)
We made our way to Seaview Cafe & Bar in Hope, AK with Jodi, Graham and their cute trailer to stay for the night.
Seaview is a fun and quirky cafe by the water that features live music every weekend. The place is mostly frequented by locals who come to enjoy the music, drink beers and camp in the back of the restaurant. To enter the bar, make sure you wear XTRATUF boots, which seems to be the choice of shoes amongst the locals.🙃
Saturday: Hope, Ak to Whittier, Ak (1h / 50 Miles)
After a good night of rest, we decided that it was time to leave our new friends and hit the road on our own. Our destination was Whittier, a small town of 200 or so residents who mostly reside in one former Army Barracks.
On the way, we braved the rain and stopped by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Sadly, the refugee bears and wolves at the center did not want to brave the weather to come out of their dens, so we didn’t get to see them up close. The bull elks, deers, and musk oxs, on the other hand, were content in the rain.
We arrived in Whittier later in the afternoon, and the rain called for a sipping-a-warm-drink-with-a-book-inside-the-camper evening.
Sunday: Whittier, Ak
We woke up delighted to see some blue sky, and although it was quite chilling for a July day, we seized the opportunity to go for a hike! We drove a couple of minutes to the Portage glacier trailhead and hiked the two-mile steep trail to the glacier. Like every other glaciers, it receded a lot in the past decades and the future generations will likely not be able to see them at all.
After the short but steep hike, we rewarded ourselves with some great burgers at Wild Catch Cafe, one of the few restaurants in Whittier.
After lunch, we left Whittier to head to Palmer, AK just north of Anchorage. In the next few days, we will slowly make our way to Denali National Park where we have a reservation to camp 3 nights at the Teklanika River Campground located right in the heart of the park.
It seems that the rain is here to stay through next week. Since there’s nothing we can do on that front, we’re learning how to make the best out of it. And knowing that the rain helps with the raging fires in Alaska certainly counts. If you have rainy day camping tips, please send them our way. Until next time!