Monday, August 18, 2008

Ninilchik and Kenai

After spending three nights in the same place, we felt we exhausted Homer, and started to make our way up the peninsula coast. And so after breakfast, we set out.

Goodbye breakfast in Homer

Homer parting views

The idea was to head toward Kenai, which is the third big attraction area in the Peninsula. Our first intended stop was a big art gallery of some local artist. When we arrived it turns out that it opens late in Sunday, and we had more than an hour to wait, so we continued on.

Our next stop was the town of Ninilchik, a small village that dates back to the early day of white presence here. There is a nice russian church on top of the hill overlooking the original town, and a small picturesque collection of wooden houses below.

View of Ninilchik old town

The town today is known for salmon fishing in the two creeks that run through it, and for clamming. The beaches here are sandy and shallow, and so are perfect home for the local clam. To get it people go at the lowtide with shovels and dig the clams out.

We came at the middle of the tide cycle, and so the beach was quite deserted, except for some sea birds and ravens.

Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

We had a nice stroll along the beach searching for finds --- beachcombing is the proper term (which I like for its literal meaning). We found a lot of smooth river rocks (strange that English does not have a term for them), remains of fish (some of them pretty big), and cleaned out fish bones. It was nice to stroll along the beach and watch the birds fly around.


A Flock of Seagulls


Another Raven

After our beachcombing experience we continued north. We reached the main road that cut back toward Seward and Anchorage. Roughly at the intersection there is a road that leads to the Visitor Center of the Kenai Wildlife Refuge. This refuge covers much of the interior of the west part of the peninsula.

At the visitor center we saw movies about bear behavior, and a scary picture of moose after it was hit by a car (the moose was essentially on top of the car with its head breaking the rear window and its hips the front windshield). It turns out that road kills are major problem here (hundreds of accidents per year), especially during the winter, as the mooses cross the main highways quite a lot.

From the visitor center there was a nice short path that lead to a lake, so we did nice hike in the wood. To my disappointment we didn't find berries (there were fewer bushes and these were cleaned up). To Yael's relief we didn't encounter a bear, although we did see what we think are bear footprints on the muddy shores of the lake just next to the trail... The wildlife we did encounter were a squirl, a kind of local bird (aka as stupid chicken by the locals), and big dragonflies.

Lake in Wild Life Refuge

Energized by the hike and a midday snack, we continued our way to Kenai. Our first destination was the visitor center that has an adjoining museum of native craft. Yael was hoping to learn on techniques used by the natives in making their artifacts. We arrived at the visitor center and while I got suggestions about local activities Yael bought tickets to the museum. The museum was a big disappointment, to call it a museum is over-optimistic.

We decided to continue to the next attraction - the historic old town. We took the car and drove there. It turns out that the "old" town looks like a run-down neighborhood that has few old cabins that are close to hundred years old between newer buildings that look just as bad. There was no grace or interest in what we saw. We did stop at a look out point to see the beach, which was nice.

View from Beluga Point, Kenai

Sitting on a bench atop the beach in the afternoon we discussed our plans. We realized that this side of the peninsula does not have much to offer to people that are not fishing enthusiasts.

Where should we go next?

We considered our options as we had one more full day of vacation and wanted to have a nice finish. Yael suggested we return to Whittier and do one of the activities we skipped over when we passed through there. We got back into the RV and drove to the campground outside Whittier that we camped earlier.

Road to Whittier (note height of snow markers)

We got there rather late, had dinner and went to sleep.


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