Saturday, August 16, 2008


We woke up to falling rain. After breakfast we considered our options. Given the weather it seemed a day hike in the park across the bay was going to be a wet event. Similarly a whale viewing cruise seemed like a bad options. We decided to take it easy and start with options in town.

We started with the visitor center that was few blocks from our hotel. It represents natural wildlife refuge throughout the shore and island of large part of western Alaska. They had an impressive movie about the outer islands of Alaska (there is a whole range that starts close to Kenai and goes all the way to Siberia). When we finished watching the movie and the exhibition we saw that the rain has stopped and went out of the center for a hike in the marsh next to it. There were many purple flowers along the trail.

Purple flowers, common everywhere, but still amazing to me

Lior and flowers

The trail led us through wetlands to the beach (the same one our RV park was above). The beach was interesting as a desolate place with many drift woods and birds, and the occasional dead fish. We searched for sea shells without luck, and after a while returned to the visitor center.


Views from the beach

Kelp on the beach


At this point we thought maybe we can see wildlife. There was a recommendation to go to a road on the rim of the hill above town that ends in a small naturalist guided tours. Climbing to the top of the hill took us through posh residential area and then we reach the road. The naturalist place was totally wet (it was raining) and didn't seem appetizing, so we gave up on it. We returned and saw a sign for a scenic view point. We drove there and parked. From the view point we could see a solid white cloud --- the area below us was in one big cloud.

Scenic view point

Since we gave up on activities, we moved on to Plan B, and searched for a coffee house. The book recommended a coffee/bakery just next to our RV camp (we actually passed it on the way to the beach). It is called the Two Sisters Cafe, and once we walked in we were met by welcoming smell of baked good. It was a nice small down to earth homely place, and it had free internet! Yay! so we ordered hot drinks, brownie for Roy and apple cake for all of us, and enjoyed the warmth and the internet. After a while it seemed that we might be overdoing it a bit, and a few of us got restless, so we moved on....

We drove down to the spit to check the boardwalks. They contained a mix of fishing operations that displayed the daily catch of halibut outside their front door, memorabilia places that sold tee-shirts, native artifacts, and local artwork, and food joints that sold cheep food. We browsed the gift shops and the art galleries (not much of a difference between them).

Toward the end of our tour we found a place that was run by a non-profit organization to promote nature awareness or something of that sort. We started chatting with the lady there, and tried to check with her about our options for the next day. She suggested three options: naturalist guided tour in the park (which they organize), to hike on our own (order water taxi to a trailhead, hike, and then wait for the return pick up), or whale watching. She told us that there was a large pod of orcas going through the last few days and we might have a chance to see them. So we went to the whale cruise operation (the only one in town, all other cruises were fishing oriented). The price of the trip was pretty high and also it seemed that they might not have sufficient passengers. The family decided they are not up to 8 hour cruise, and so we decided to go with naturalist guided thing. This meant that we have to wake up early though...

We returned to the camp and organized dinner. After dinner the rain eased and we could see that the low tide was almost at its peak, leaving long stretches of sandy shore exposed below us. Although it was drizzling, Yael and me went on an evening walk along the beach which was very nice. On the way to the beach we passed a tree with a big eagle sitting on top. Yael claimed that she didn't need to go kayaking in the sea to see an eagle up close :-)

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