Monday, July 22, 2013
Days 16 through 21
When I woke up I did my writing, had a light breakfast, did my yoga and was about to leave when I saw that my computer was installing some 132 updates and was on 83. I didn’t want to risk messing up the installation so I decided to go bike riding at the University of Alaska and that was a good idea. Rain threatened but stayed away and I was able to ride for a full hour. It is a decent campus and I rode past the botanical garden which looked pretty tempting. After my ride and doing my recycling, I drove back to the super 8 and found the computer still stuck on 83 so I turned it off and hoped for the best. I drove slowly toward Denali and I got there around 4 so I headed off to Highway 8, the one that cuts across the state, and after driving in about a mile I found a tempting stretch at a bridge that had obviously been heavily fished but I didn’t care. I got a couple of small grayling and a lot of hits on my royal wulff from small fish but I gave up after about 45 minutes and decided to drive further on 8. I saw a nice section but it was posted all around so I headed back and found a decent looking stretch that was steep to get to. I walked along the rough trail and when I thought I was far enough I started fishing and got a couple of decent fish. I moved further up and realized that I was very close to where I had fished before. I kept fishing and ended up with 11 grayling with perhaps three decent fish. Now it was time to head back to the very developed Denali and check in. That went quite well and they recommended Nenana café in the Denali Chalet Hotel and it was very good especially the bacon wrapped potatoes and the halibut. I took a walk along the river and then decided to head to the Alpenglow Resort up on the mountain to have dessert. The view of the Nenana was impressive but the service was very slow. I did work on a new poem about returning to Alaska after five years of bring cancer free and how much more relaxed this trip has been. It was time to head to my camp site and I dropped off quickly with almost no mosquito problems. The next day I got up early, hoping to shower and perhaps do the laundry before my bus tour, but the staff wouldn’t let me in until 7 and that seemed too close for comfort. I instead dipped into Riley Creek and it made me both clean and very cold. I got to the wilderness access center in plenty of time and at 8 we were off, 10 of us and a talkative and informed bus driver. I leaned quite a bit but the animal viewing was a disaster. A couple of moose and a caribou. No grizzlies. It was overall pleasant enough but I was glad it was over and after a good nap. I was ready to head to Homer. I stopped to fish a couple of times but the first stream was too fast and the second, though absolutely perfect, yielded not a hit. I fished for a good hour and went almost a half mile so my knee is doing quite well. The salmon were in on the Kenai so traffic was pretty slow. I stopped at a combination Laundromat/shower place and did my laundry and took a very needed shower. After a nap I played 9 holes at Birch Ridge with 3 fellows who invited me to join and were pleasant enough to play with. I drove on toward Homer and ran into some road construction so I didn’t get out to the end of the spit until around 7, and it was time to ride my bike back to the mainland and back to my truck at least 9 miles. Dinner at the Harbor Grill followed and it was a decent enough seafood sampler. I did some writing and after I finished it was 10:30 and I ended up at the Town campground on the ocean side for 8 dollars. I awoke early and was on the road by 6:30 hoping to miss the construction traffic and I did, working my way toward seward. I finally stopped at Ptarmigan Creek and met a fellow from Virginia Tech who had left Floyd in 1978. We chatted amiably and he advised a small nymph. I worked my way to the Creek and it was too fast but I did find a few spots and had on fish on using a small royal wulff and a hit on the little nymph. Not very productive but very pretty. I napped and then drove into Seward, finding it a pretty little town with plenty of camping right by the water just like on Homer’s spit. I went for pizza (I’ve had too much fish) and the place the guide recommended was not very good. Rather bland to be sure. After dinner I took my bike ride through the touristy section and on out of town and it was good enough. When I returned I had dessert and coffee and worked a bit on my writing, then headed off to find a campground, eventually ending back at Ptarmigan Creek where I couldn’t find a site but paid and slept in the day use area. At 6 I started my drive to Whittier, the rain started and I stayed in the rain until I got to the tunnel. Riding through that tunnel is pretty intense and if you were claustrophobic, I would stay away from the tunnel: one lane, rocky walls right next to you, a railroad track sharing the pavement. Intense. Once through the tunnel, I stopped at the first café and got breakfast and coffee, my first cup of the day. Luckily I was able to get my phone internet to work and I saw that Tiger was tied for first in the British Open after 10 holes in the third round. I didn’t plan well so my kayak trip will be during the final half of the final day. It would be stupid to miss the kayak trip so I will try to stay up with the first few holes and then wish Tiger well. I did my bike ride—riding against perhaps the strongest wind I have ever ridden against—and then went for a terrific shave, shower and double shampoo, well, well needed. Then it was time to get ready for the ferry and I drove over there and fixed things up a bit and then got on a little before 1:45. The ferry was not that big but the scenery was immense: glaciers regularly appear and we saw a couple of humpback whales breaching. I have time to relax and I worked a little on my novel and thought a little about proposing something for the conference in the spring with the theme of horizons. I met an interesting guy from New Zealand and I gave Rex my e-mail and number and invited him to visit. He also invited me to visit New Zealand. My attempts to fish didn’t work out but I did have a nice walk in the Valdez harbor. I ran into Rex again and we had a nice chat. An interesting guy, an engineer with a wife and six kids and an 8,000 acre farm. The next morning I lucked out since the restaurant next to the kayak place was open and the owner let me come and have breakfast with the tour bus and watch the british open. When I left at 8, it was clear Tiger wasn’t going to win (Phil did). The kayak place was awful. They were condescending and I finally backed out when they told me I had to go in a double kayak, which was not mentioned in the brochure. They agreed to refund my money but the guy said some very rude remarks about me giving back their dry bag and the female guide accused me of stealing it when I had already given it back. Awful.