After an amazing four days in Homer, Tim and I packed up and headed north on July 28. Because we needed to be in Anchorage in time to complete a few errands before my flight to Portland on July 31, we had to forego some of the stops we had hoped to make. Oh well, that leaves more for us to see next time.
We did make time for a visit to the town of Kenai, where I wanted to explore the town’s Russian history. There were several buildings to see. Built in 1895, the Holy Assumption Orthodox Church is the oldest standing Russian Orthodox church in Alaska. Nearby is the rectory, the oldest building in the Kenai region, and the 1906 Chapel of St. Nicholas. Kenai was the fifth Russian outpost to be established in Alaska, so it was not much of a surprise to learn that the town’s oldest buildings reflect this heritage.
|Holy Assumption Orthodox Church|
|Chapel of St. Nicholas|
When we arrived at the church, we were surprised at the buzz of activity. People were scraping, painting and repairing the exterior of this simple, but lovely, village church. We talked to a man and his wife who explained that they were a part of a group of Southern Baptists from West Virginia and had traveled to Alaska to help with the restoration of this historic church. For them a church was a church. It didn’t seem to matter what the denomination was. That was nice to see.
|The People and Scaffolding Aren't Great for Photos,|
But I Was Happy to See the Restoration in Progress
We weren’t sure how far we would drive after leaving Kenai, but the rain made the decision for us. We don’t like to drive in the rain, so we started looking for a campground north of Soldotna. Because the Kenai River parallels the highway, there are quite a few public campgrounds from which to choose.
We decided to check out the Izaak Walton Campground in Sterling, and that turned out to be a perfect place for us to stop. This is a nice state campground located within the Kenai River Special Management Area, but it can accommodate small rigs only. Located where the Moose River flows into the Kenai River, the campground attracts a lot of fishermen, although it was fairly wide open when we arrived.
While Tim and I were eating dinner, we felt something give the RV a good shake. With visions of the bears at Katmai fresh in my mind, I immediately assumed that a bear was checking us out. A bit alarmed, we peered out the windows but could see nothing. We couldn’t figure out what had happened, but we didn’t give it too much thought.
|A Little Bit of Shaking at Our Riverfront Campsite|
It wasn’t until the following day that we learned that we had experienced our first earthquake! And not just a tiny earthquake, but a 6.3 magnitude one! Wow! The earthquake hit just south of Mount Iliamna, one of the volcanoes we had seen on our way to Homer. The quake had struck at a depth of 73 miles, thus reducing the amount of shaking. I guess that’s why we experienced only a brief jolt. It was reported that the earthquake was felt across South Central Alaska and as far north as Fairbanks. Apparently, it was unlike any to hit the Cook Inlet region in decades. When I was hoping for new experiences in Alaska, an earthquake wasn’t on the list! Luckily, there was no damage, just lots of stories to tell.
We left in the morning to make our way back to Anchorage. Since we really didn’t need to arrive until the next day, we thought we would stop at a pullout along the Turnagain Arm and hang out for the day and evening. We had thought it would be cool to watch the huge tides come in and out. For some reason, however, we just kept driving and found ourselves in Anchorage before we knew it. With no plans, we headed to Cabela’s, which permits RVs to park overnight for up to 48 hours. Very nice. The double rainbow that we saw shortly after we set up was a nice bonus.
|Not a Great Foreground, but the Rainbows Were a Treat|
|If You Don't Need Hookups, Cabela's May be the Nicest Place to Camp in Anchorage|
It was early the next morning when I learned that my friend Jane had passed away. I was a mess, but I had to pull myself together to get ready to fly to Portland the following day. Blogs like this one sometimes lead people to believe that full-time RVers lead a carefree and charmed life. Sometimes that is true. However, we are not immune from life’s tragedies and have to deal with them just like everyone else.
Tim and I needed to move to a commercial campground so I could do laundry and pack the few things that I would need for the weekend. Golden Nugget RV Park seems to be the only park recommended by RVers who live in Alaska, so that’s where we headed. It was ok, not great, but it had lots of washers and dryers and decent showers. We completed our chores, and I was able to take the time to sit back and remember Jane and the wonderful times we had shared.