Hello from smoky Alaska!
We arrived in Anchorage early Wednesday morning (1 am) and went to the motel for a very short night. Early Wednesday (combining our trip to Europe with the following trip to Alaska, our body clocks are really messed up) we got a taxi to go pick up the van for the trip back to Kasilof. On the way there was a heavy layer of white clouds, fog or smog laying on the mountains over Anchorage. Jan said “is that smog?” I said “it must be fog!” Nope the taxi driver said, “it’s smoke from the forest fire on the Kenai.”
WELCOME BACK TO ALASKA!!!!!!
At breakfast we got the newspaper and found that a fire had been started along Funny River Road east of Soldotna on Monday afternoon In an unpopulated wildlife area called the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. We went to Costco for our yearly purchase of supplies for the park and then headed down the Turnagain Arm through thick smoky clouds until we got into the Kenai Mountains.
As we arrived in Soldotna we could see the smoke clouds above the town and they were growing darker and darker as the fire built up.
The fire had grown by Wednesday afternoon to 22000 acres and stretched from the Funny River Road south of Sterling to Tustumena Lake (see map). It was getting close to us just about 10 miles east and slightly north (the park is located just about where the r is in the Sterling Highway on the map.
By Friday evening the fire had grown to the east and the west and was now about 4 miles to the east of the Sterling Highway just opposite of the town of Kasilof on the map. It was still on the north side of the Kasilof River and wasn’t a real danger to us yet, but could be if the wind changed to the northeast.
This was the photo Jan took as we were heading to the Elks for dinner Friday evening. This is about 4 miles north of Kasilof looking to the east of the Sterling Highway. This bank of smoke extended south as far as we could see and as far north as 10 miles.
Things were not looking good for us if the wind came out of the north on Saturday and the fire jumped the Kasilof River. We had decided to gather our essential things and if we got word to evacuate, we would just get out of the area.
Saturday morning dawned sunny, cool and DRY again. However, the wind was very calm and the smoke from the fire had calmed down during the night. The morning paper indicated that the fire had now consumed more than 70000 acres and had inched slowly further toward Kasilof, but hadn’t got any closer to the Kasilof River. Good news to us, so we went back to Soldotna shopping.
As we started home, the wind picked up again, but this time it was out of the southwest very strong. Bad news for the homes in Funny River, but great news for us as it drove the main part of the fire away from the Kasilof River and us! The photos on the right are the clouds caused by the increased buildup of the fire driven by the strong winds out of the southwest. They look like the huge thunderheads of a Kansa summer rain storm.
We are setting here in the park hoping that the fire continues to move away from us. We are ready to leave if things change for the worse. The Flagstaff trailer can be quickly connected to the black Chevy pickup. We can load the essentials quickly and get on the road away from the fire. We would probably head to the Soldotna Elks and stay in their parking lot if necessary.
The winter this year wasn’t very good to the park. We were lucky and managed to get the van started in Anchorage without any trouble and then got to the park with the threat of the fire. Things went downhill after that. There were 5 trees knocked down by the high winds last fall, four along the back of the lot and one dropped on the edge of the well house knocking a hole in the roof. Another next to Ryan and Cheri’s trailer took a nose dive off the front of it. Fortunately, it missed it by about 2 feet and the only damage was 2 scratches and the lost of both yellow running light covers on the top front.
When we arrived at the park, the batteries for the drill to removed the screws from the front gate were all dead (including the one I took from home??) and the key wouldn’t unlock the paddle lock on the gate. Some friendly persuasion from the van’s front bumper manage to convince the gate to let us in!
The KIA’s battery was dead so we had to jump it and then after getting it out of the front of the Conex, it died and wouldn’t start again. A long clean up job and charging finally got it started. The battery in the 4 wheeler was also dead and it is still in the Conex (part of the reason for the trip to Soldotna today, new battery). Finally we got to the water system and blew the antifreeze out of the front row water lines for the RV pads. That went ok, but when we started to clear the water system to Park Model and the front area leading to the front row water lines, the pipe was broken at the cleaning table. After digging out the pipe and replacing it, the Pierce’s arrived with their camper for the summer so we spent the evening getting them set up.
Next morning we turned the water on to find another gusher coming out of the ground beside the dump station. Richard helped me dig down and replace the pipes to get the system running again. Finally on Friday afternoon we had water all along the front including the Lodge without any more leaks!
SO NOW IF THE FOREST FIRE WILL STAY AWAY FROM US, MAYBE WE CAN GET THIS SUMMER STARTED!
We have lots (4550) photos from our trip to Europe and when I have time to reduce them to something reasonable I will add another blog of our trip. Hopefully, I can get it down to the best 15 or 20. We had a great time there, but 27 days on the road is way too much for us old blue hairs. Maybe now that we are in Alaska, we can relax! HA