Lots of Rain

Sunday morning (7/16) we woke up to lots of rain at the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing, an outstanding spot at the confluence of the Kenai and Russian Rivers.  This world-class fishing area is known for salmon runs and bears. It was one of the prettiest campgrounds we’ve been to so far, with large, level, wooded sites with new asphalt pads.  Unfortunately, it was raining hard during most of our visit.  Lucy and I hiked down to the river area, but we didn’t see any bears or salmon.   We heard something large moving around in the woods near our campsite, though.  Maybe it was a bear, or maybe it was Bigfoot?  

We had a large, double site tucked back into the woods. Too bad for all of the rain!
The rafters floating down the Kenai river provide perspective on the size of this beautiful, emerald colored river.

We left the Cooper Landing area mid day.  Our original plan was to drive through the one-way tunnel and visit the coastal town of Whittier, but we decided to skip this stop. We had received a tsunami warning the night before due to a nearby 7.5 magnitude earthquake, giving us second thoughts about visiting a costal city with limited evacuation options (especially since Laurie was still recovering from her recent bout of sea sickness).  We decided to drive up to the Turnagain Arm area instead.  We didn’t stop much along the way due to the rain and overcast skies. However, the views were still enjoyable and the drive was pleasant.  We decided to spend the night at the Bird Creek Campground, just west of Girdwood, right along the water.

Bird Creek Campground is part of the Chugach State Park. It's a rustic campground, near the water.
The weather prevented any great photos, but Lucy and I had a nice walk along the Turnagain Arm.

Monday morning ended up being overcast and rainy, once again.  We broke camp and headed up to Anchorage.  After gathering some groceries, we visited Anchorage’s Earthquake Park.  This park is located along a fault line from the 9.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked Alaska back in 1964.  Several well-designed placards along a paved wooded path tells the story of the largest earthquake ever experienced in North America.  It reminded us of the trauma experienced by the people in Southern Turkey earlier this year.

Plenty of large displays explained what happened when the 1964 earthquake struck this area.
Lucy didn't care about the displays in Earthquake Park. She was more interested in going on the wooded paths.

As we left the Earthquake Park, we saw a mother moose with her calf.  We were not able to get any photos, but we had to laugh.  After driving through thousands of miles of pristine wilderness and seeing very few large animals, we run across moose while within Anchorage’s city limits!  We drove to the nearby Forty Ninth State Brewery, Anchorage location for lunch.  This restaurant chain has become an Alaskan favorite of ours.  We enjoyed a tasty bowl of seafood chowder. 

Forty-Ninth State Brewery in Anchorage has great food and beer.
The seafood chowder had large chunks of halibut and salmon, a perfect lunch.

After lunch, we left Anchorage and drove north to the Palmer area just as the weather started to finally clear.  We stayed overnight at Paradise Alaska RV Park.  After four straight nights with no electricity or RV hook-ups, we needed a stay where we could refresh our systems.  This is a small RV park with friendly, helpful owners, located just outside of Palmer with views of nearby mountains.  

We got the last spot available in the RV Park.
Lucy was more interested in the cows in the pasture next door than viewing the mountains.

On Tuesday (7/18), we had a delightful time visiting the Palmer Musk Ox Farm before leaving town.  This non-profit research facility provides a 45 minute walking tour of their farm.  We enjoyed learning about these magnificent animals.  

The Musk Ox Farm is located just north of Palmer, with a nice view of mountains in the background.
72 of these graceful herbivores make up their herd.
This skull weighs 22 lbs. (The musk ox skull, not Steve's)
Of course we took the opportunity to do another Silly Selfie! What did you expect?

After the Musk Ox Farm tour, we drove northeast along the Glenn Highway.  The weather turned rainy and cloudy again.  What a surprise!  The drive took us back into central Alaska, where large shallow, braided rivers come together in wide open valleys.  We were fascinated to see the color difference between two merging rivers.  Each stream has a unique color depending on the finely ground mineral content of its glacial source.  The winding drive also took us past the Matanuska Glacier.  We stopped for the night at The Ranch House Lodge & RV Park, west of Glenallen.  This is a newly remodeled RV Park with nice sites along the Tolsona Creek. 

This photo captures the stark color difference between two glacial streams coming together.
Several overlooks along the road offered views of the Matanuska Glacier.
Our campsite at Ranch House Lodge & RV Park was at a bend on the Tolsona Creek.
Lucy enjoyed walking along the clear flowing creek that meandered through the campground.

Tomorrow we head to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and then we plan to go on to Valdez, AK.

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