Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Girls Are Coming, The Girls Are Coming
Actually, the girls are already here and have been since last Thursday night, having flown into Anchorage about 10 pm. The B&B we were staying at, The Alaska House Of Jade, loaned us a van to drive to the airport and pick them up so we wouldn't have to do it on the bikes. The next day we spent driving around Anchorage in the van doing laundry, having lunch at Snow City Cafe, and shopping for wine at Cosco. The girls didn't have to get on the bikes until Saturday morning to head up the road to Talkeetna. They were totally spoiled by then, and would have been happy to keep the van for the entire trip. Our hosts Dee and Yves at the House Of Jade really set the standard for lodging on this trip. Dee whips up amazing breakfasts. Penny has already posted some of her recipes on her food blog.
We decided we didn't have to worry about carying emergency fuel for the remainder of the trip, so we ditched the spare fuel bottles and replaced them with wine. It's like the fuel holders were designed with wine in mind.
We rode up to Talkeetna on Saturday. It was Tulin's first real experience of riding for an extended period...until then, she had only ridden for an hour or so. She did great, and is really enjoying herself. Penny is a pretty old-hand at this stuff and is having a good time.
We stayed at the Meandering Moose B&B in Talkeetna.
They say Talkeetna was the model for the town in Northern Exposure even though the series wasn't filmed there. This is Main Street Talkeetna.
After dinner at the West Rib, we rode over to the Talkeetna Lodge in hopes of getting a glimpse of Mt. McKinley. The Lodge has a nice terrace facing Denali Park and offering good views of the mountains. It's about 10:30 pm in this shot, but see how bright the sun is.
The distant mountains, which include McKinley, were shrouded in clouds when we arrived, but after a half hour or so the clouds began to thin and we were treated to this view of McKinley sticking up above the clouds.
McKinley, which the Indians called Denali, meaning "the high one", is the highest peak in North America at 20,320 ft compared to Everest at 29,029 ft. However, Denali has a greater vertical rise from its base to its peak than does Everest...18,000 ft versus 12,000 ft, making it both challenging and popular with climbers. A world-class German climber, Dr. Olaf Rieck, was staying at the Meandering Moose with us. He had just led an expedition of 13 international climbers to the peak of Denali. This interesting veterinarian has climbed all over the world, including Mt. Everest. Here he is showing me his website which is in German, but interesting nonetheless.
I asked Tulin to take a photo at midnight to show the amount of light still available...here it is. We find it hard to go to bed and to sleep at a normal hour with so much daylight.
From Talkeetna, we traveled southward back through Anchorage and on down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer, the Halibut capitol of the World. The Cook Inlet was on our right a good part of the way.
This is a small part of the harbor at Homer.
Inspector G and I had to try halibut fishing. We went out on the charter boat "Wild Thing" with Captain Mike. This is the hook that is used to fish for halibut.
The hook is rigged with a 2 lb sinker, baited with herring, and fished on the bottom in about 150 ft of water. It's a major work-out just to check your bait, let alone to haul in a fish.
The current limit is two fish per person. The day before, one of Capt. Mike's customers landed a 90 pounder. Today, the best we could do was the 25 pounder caught by Gadget. The rest of the fish we kept were in the 18-22 lb range. That's Capt. Mike in orange putting a fish in the box.
Along with Gadget and me on the boat were two couples from Carson City, NV. Here we all are with the day's catch.
I'm sad to say this fish, tipping the scales at 165, was caught by someone else. To keep us from feeling quite so bad, they tried to tell us that fish this large don't taste as good as the smaller ones.
The Salty Dog is an iconic bar on the Homer "spit". It sits right at the entrance to the charter boat dock and is a required stop at the end of a day of fishing.
The interior is decorated with a few more signed dollars than Larkin's Bayfront Tavern in Lake Lure.
We added our bill to the collection. It's right there between Tulin and Penny, just above their heads.
Here's a closeup. Not to be outdone, we used a 1000 won note from Korea, worth all of about 98 cents.
We finished the day with a visit to Lands End Restaurant at the very tip end of the "spit" for a drink and a late lunch of French onion soup and seafood chowder.
Lands End sits right at the entrance to Kachemak Bay. This was shot right behind the restaurant.
Tomorrow (Wed 6/15) we are on the road again, back up the Kenai Peninsula to Seward for the night. Then on Thursday we return to Anchorage for one night and on Friday we put the girls back on an airplane to Juneau while we ride to Haines and catch the ferry to Juneau. This is a change in plans caused by the terrible condition of the Alcan Highway south of the Alaska border down to Haines Junction, Yukon Territory. On the way up, after encountering this section of highway, we decided it was too rough to ride two-up with the girls. We plan to rendezvous with them in Juneau on June 19 and continue with the ferry on down to Vancouver Island.