Into Alaska; The Turnagain Arm

June 27, 2008

Bill and I were up prior to the butt-crack of dawn and on our way to the airport by 4:15 a.m.  After quick flight to Chicago and a 2.5 hour layover and we were on our way to Anchorage, Alaska!  I must have looked like a kid in a candy store.  I was so happy I was beaming ear to ear.  The gentlemen seated next to me on the plane struck up an easy conversation and within minutes Bill and I learned he was an old “blue-grasser”.  He plays banjo and of course, even had CDs to sell.

After 5 hours of a lengthy 6 hour flight during which the airlines showed films on Mongolia, frogs, and apparently one on snakes (which thankfully I slept through) Bill nudged me to look out the window.  He’d been observing as we followed the Rocky Mountain Range and the Al-Can Highway from the air; miles and miles of vast uninhabited spaces.  But at this moment, below us the sky was clear and vast rivers of ice flows were visible as they made their way through the mountain ranges.  I thought we must be over Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  We could see several glacial pools in the body of the ice flows that were as beautiful blue as any waters could ever be.  Oh man, it was incredible.

As we flew into Anchorage, I wept a few tears as the realization that “We’re really here!” crept more and more into my consciousness.  After about a 20 minute wait in the airport, we were picked up by Great Alaskan Holidays and whisked away to their RV rental site.  We had about a 45 minute orientation on “how to drive and care for your RV” and away we went in our 22 footer.  Well, almost.  We missed the turn for the Carrs grocery store and ended up taking the scenic trip through a small bluff in Anchorage.  Apparently these were homes were the poor folks do NOT live.  Lovely views of the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet.

After we had stocked our new home with groceries, beer, and a fan; we finally headed down the Seward Highway toward Turnagain Arm.  Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet.jpgBy then it was about 5:30 p.m. Alaskan time (9:30 Eastern).  Turnagain Arm is thus named because Captina Cook was said to have had to turn (again) multiple times while exploring the area.   Turnagain Arm has one of the world’s most remarkable high tides with the water rising as much or more than 33 feet.  As we drove further into the arm we could see this bore tide rushing out into the ocean leaving behind flats of silt that act like quicksand to unknowing beachcombers. Bore Tide Out Turnagain Arm.jpg We pulled into Beluga Point were lucky folks sometimes see the white Beluga whales coming back in with the tide. Beluga Point, Turnagain Arm.jpg No whales, but we did see our first bald eagle, and spot a herd of mountain goats that looked to be about a mile up the mountain beside the road.  We were also struck by the Alaskan Railway that ran right along the coast for miles and miles.  There’s relatively little area between the water and the foot of the mountains leaving one quite grateful that the road builders new their business so well.

Our first choice of close-to-Anchorage-camping-accommodations, Bird Creek, was filled by the time we arrived; not surprising since the native Alaskans also enjoy camping on the weekends.  We rather wearily drove around the Arm, enjoying the views even through the skies were grey and clouds hanging low.  There are many places where campers can just pull over and sleep along the road but we were still hoping to find an actual campground so that we didn’t have to listen to traffic all night long. 

We finally scored a campsite at Bertha Creek USFS Campground.  Bertha Creek Campground.jpgAfter many embarrassing efforts to level our little RV using the blocks provided, Bill finally managed to maneuver it to a level-enough spot in Campsite 9.  We were home!  Our little RV at Bertha Creek Campground.jpgThe campground only has 10 sites but also has a lovely little waterfall on the west side.  We made a delicious meal of Nathan’s dogs – that was it; put aluminum foil over the vent above our bed to block out the light, and headed to be by around 8:30 p.m.  By now we’d been up for nearly 24 hours straight.  As I snuggled under the covers I could hear a nearby campsite chopping wood.  I hoped quiet hours would come soon. This is the life!  Finally in Alaska!.jpg Not to worry.  I was close to comatose within minutes and didn’t hear another peep until morning.


Bill and Kelly crop.jpg
View from our RV at Bertha Creek Campground.jpg
Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet.jpg
Alaska Railway on the Turnagain Arm.jpg

1 Comment

August 28, 2008
Excellent! Should reading! Thanks so much for the opportunity to peek into your great Alaskan adventure.............

sister pat
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