Two years ago our dream of moving to Italy took a dramatic turn south. Despite endless tears my heart healed and fate dropped an amazing opportunity in our lap. Early this year my husband seized on an opportunity to fly in one of his dream destinations, Alaska.
Our seven day drive to Alaska was an adventure in itself. We managed 4,000 miles from Indiana to Alaska with only one nail in a tire, a near collision with a moose, and some of the most breathtaking and frightening terrain I have ever laid eyes upon.
Gregg drove the U-Haul while I followed in our Mini Cooper. We left Indiana on May 2nd and, once we reached Canada, put our walkie-talkies to the test. The big thaw takes place in late April and early May. Ice and snow created some of the biggest pot holes I’ve ever seen. Gregg would call out “left”, “right”, “center” and I would weave around the pot holes like an Indy car driver avoiding a wreck on the main straight-away. We drove an average of 650 miles per day.
The only other obstacle that nearly destroyed my nerves were the bridges in Canada. They use grates, but instead of going across the bridge horizontally the grates were perpendicular. This is not an issue for any car bigger than a Mini Copper. When I started to cross the bridge at the recommended speed of 30mph my small tires couldn’t grip the grates. I started to veer left into the other lane. Fortunately, no other vehicles were on the bridge when I crossed, but my nerves hit the limit and my knuckles ached from the death grip I applied to the steering wheel. Seeing these bridges struck fear in my soul and I swore to never repeat this drive again. We crossed four of these bridges in all and it wasn’t until the last bridge, which happened to be the longest, that I encountered a truck coming my direction. I successfully avoided a collision but aged about 10 years in 10 seconds.
Since moving to Alaska we have not wasted any chance to travel the state. Our first outing took us to Seward to see Exit Glacier. We live on the Kenai Peninsula so Seward is less than two hours away. Two hours by car in Alaska is unlike anything I’ve experienced, picture perfect vistas every moment of the journey.
Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, Exit Glacier is part of the Harding icefield and a top attraction in Alaska. Well-kept hiking trails offer a one mile round trip trek across streams, though woods and finally to the base of the glacier. There is also a more strenuous eight mile trail that takes you further up the glacier, but can be closed off due to flooding concerns. We opted for the one mile hike.
There are signs along the route showing exactly where the glacier once ended along the journey. Exit Glacier didn’t disappoint. We didn’t want to leave and decided to travel into the town of Seward for lunch.
There are plenty of waterfront restaurants and shops. We plan to eventually return to kayak to Aialik Glacier.
Another popular destination on the Kenai Peninsula is Homer. Located at the southern tip of the peninsula, Homer is best known for the “Spit”, a four and a half mile thin stretch of land that juts out into Kachemak Bay.
Quaint shops, restaurants, and bars line this unique stretch of landscape.
Known as the Halibut fishing capital of the world, Homer offers countless half day and full day fishing expeditions. We took the advice of a neighbor and caught a boat from Homer to picturesque Halibut Cove.
The one hour boat ride took us past Gull Island. As the name suggests this small habitat is home to seagulls, puffins, cormorants, and several sea otters. The real treat on this journey was turning into Halibut Cove, which is only accessible by boat or seaplane.
Our reservation on the Danny J, a former fishing vessel that now serves as a passenger ferry, came with dining reservations at the Saltry Restaurant.
A steep gangway leads you from the dock directly to the Saltry where staff is waiting to seat you. I love restaurants that not only offer fabulous food but fantastic views.
The seafood is fresh and delicious. We shared the fish tacos and muscles with scallops added to the mix.
After lunch we wandered along the boardwalk until we came upon a path that led us to a small cemetery and bluff overlooking the cove. We could have spent longer than the three hours we were allotted to eat lunch and explore.
After a quick walk to the coffee shop we headed back to the boat for the 45 minute trip to Homer. If you do travel to Alaska in the summer put Halibut Cove on your list of priority destinations.
Before we made the move to Alaska we debated on whether to purchase an RV or 4 wheelers. After coming across a great deal for 2 ATV’s we passed on buying an RV. This has turned out to be a great decision in our minds.
In the three months that we have lived in Alaska we have ridden our ATV’s on the beach at Captain Cook State Park twice and made an unforgettable trip up the Crown Point Mine Trail near Moose Pass.
This twelve mile round trip trek started down in the forest, then zig zapped through fields above the tree line, and finally some five thousand feet up near the mine entrance.
We picnicked next to a glacier and stood in amazement at the splendor of Alaska.
We have jumped in with both feet and embraced Alaska.
Our small town comes alive in the summer when salmon return to spawn in the Kenai and Russian River. Tourists from all over the world descend on our peninsula for several weeks to catch the prized King Salmon. Unfortunately this year King salmon fishing was shut down for a good portion of the summer.
Gregg and I did manage to catch Sockeye salmon and have started to get an impressive fillet count in the freezer. In the coming weeks Silver salmon will grace our river and we hope to add to our fish count.
Looking at images of the Tuscan countryside and hearing from friends in Italy still tugs at my heartstrings. I will miss Italy more than words can ever express. I have no idea when we will be able to return for a visit, but know that Alaska has helped heal my heart in ways I could have never imagined.