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Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Fairfield, Ohio
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Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

My husband and I flew into Anchorage on July 11th and took a cab over to ABC RV rental where our RV was set up to sleep in. Everything went smoothly till in the morning before they opened I realized the fridge was not working. ABC was very helpful and after some trying to repair the fridge we were given a different RV which was a brand new 2014 that still had temp tags it was so new. So then we were off to Denali

Along the way I finally figured out my MilePost. When I first got it and looked at it at home I was very confused. Once I got on the road with it I suddenly understood and quickly grew to love that book. We stopped along the way to look at wildlife and scenic views as we made our way to Denali. We had amazing weather and it was crystal clear so the mountain was totally out. This was my birthday so it just couldn't have been better. We stopped at one point and watched a moose in a pool of water while her two babies stood on the side watching because the water was too deep for them. The south view park had an amazing view and we hiked up the path and just enjoyed the mountain and weather.

We arrived at 7pm for campground check in and got everything we needed for our reservation at the TEK campground and our TEK passes. We took a recommendation and headed into town for dinner at prospectors Pizza before heading into the park. Great pizza and lots of laughs about their "lower 48 it ain't pizza with reindeer sausage, elk and moose motzeralla. The drive to the TEK campground was quite because it was getting later and the buses were not running. We got a nice spot in the first loop then took a stroll out to the river before going to bed since we had reservations on the very first bus out to Wonder Lake.

Bus came at 6:25am and I was glad for us being that far in the park since others on it caught it at 5am back at the main gate. I was so so so happy though we took someone here's advice and booked that first bus. It was clear and cool and the mountain was fully out again. We saw 13 bears in total. Bus driver said that was really something and that the first bus does see the most wild life since the later in the day it gets the further the animals stay from the road due to the noisy buses. We saw Dall Sheep, several moose including a mama and baby and a ton of Caribou, We even saw a bear eating a kill he stole from some wolves per the driver. When we got to Eilson the mountain was out and it was amazing. We stopped and explored then back onto the bus to Wonder Lake. It was on this stretch I got my best pictures. There 20 feet from the road a pair of bears were trying to mate. He wanted to and she didn't. He kept trying to get behind her and she kept flipping around and trying to bite him. She finally ran off and he sat there on the side of the road and pouted while we all snapped pictures.

We got off the bus just before Wonder Lake and hiked to the reflection pond. We were super lucky the pond was like a mirror and the mountain was still fully out. We took lots of classic mountain reflected in the water pictures then back to the bus. The ride back we didn't see nearly as much wild life but it was super pretty.

That evening some more hiking along the Tek river by our campground and then to bed. In the morning I decided I wanted to go on a hike. I looked in my trusty milepost which suggested the Polychrome pass.Caught a bus and were off. On the bus we met an older man (looked older than my mom) and he told us he was going to hike a trail he had done a few times before in the Polychrome pass and he invited us to join him. Another couple came along as well. He was older so I figured it would be a nice leisure hike. This was a mistake on my part lol. I should have known when we got of the bus and he pulled out fancy collapsible hiking sticks, an altimeter and GPS spot tracker lol. Right up the side of one of the ridges we went. Wasn't a trail as much as it was a game trail and at times nothing at all. took us up to an altitude per his thing of 4300. It was breath taking literally and figuratively lol. That old man is in much better shape than I am. We walked along the ridge at the top of the pass and got amazing pictures and views. The way down there was no path and we saw lots of bear scat as we came down the other side of the ridge. We did have bear spray and my husband had his gun (PTSD makes him paranoid it wasn't about shooting anything it makes him feel safer) We didn't see any bears though. I'm so so so glad we met that older man. It was a great hike and we never would have been so ambitious alone. a highlight of our trip

That night it started to rain so rather than wait and check out by 11am the next day we decided to leave early. A great perk of an RV. We left the park around 7pm and hit the road. We stopped at a campground at Byer Lake that I foound in my Milepost. Nice lake crappy person in charge of the campground. Trash cans were all over flowing and couldn't close which was not cool given there were also signs posted all over about bear sighting recently. Back on the road in the morning we stopped off in Talkeetna for a little tourist trap shopping and to look for the Mayor who is a cat that apparently just roams around. Never found Mr Stubbs lol. Back on the road we were early for our reservation at the Russian River campground so we decided to head towards Soldotna since we heard the salmon were coming in. We found a nice campground in Sterling right on the Kenia river and stayed there.

That night the fish came in hard and the over flow lot filled right up. We realized that there were no fish up at the Russian so again changed our plans and stayed in Sterling. We discovered we had no clue how to snag Salmon in the mouth and it was harder than it looked. Some locals had my husband very frustrated and I just wanted to go hit one with a stick because they were jumping EVERYWHERE and we couldn't catch them lol. Next day we went out of a sockeye charter and were quickly taught by our guide Ty from ninilchik charters what we were doing wrong. I think my husband was digging me in those sexy thigh highs lol. We each caught our bag limit of 3 fish (darn limit went to 6 the next day) Ty cut the fish up nicely for us we put it on ice and headed to Seward

First stop in Seward was Captain Jacks fish processing to start a fish collection. Then we changed plans and rather than stay at Millers Landing (we felt it was not convenient at all) we found an opening right on the water at the water front city campground. This meant we could walk to our charters and leave the RV there rather than trying to get a cab super early or packing up the RV and trying to find parking. We enjoyed the dock area and got a bite then went to bed.

The next day we were up early for our charter with The Fish House. We went on a combo Halibut and Silver Salmon charter. I will admit I did not enjoy halibut fishing at all. It was rocky at sea and foggy. The fog kept me from trying to fix my sight on land or the horizon and despite Dramamine and sea sickness bands I was very green. It took a while to find the halibut and they were smaller. I am the queen of catching Dog Fish. I caught 6 to throw back before I got my bag limit of 2 halibut. I could have tried for bigger ones but I felt so sick I was just happy to have my fish. My husband was having a blast though unaffected by the rocky seas. I did much better when we headed to calmer seas to fish for salmon. They were on us fast and I caught my bag limit of 3 pretty fast also picking up a few more dog fish along the way.

The Fish House was fine but we were disappointed with the fact that they cut the fish up on the way back inland rather than hang it on the hooks for pictures on the dock. They didn't seem very concerned with the experience t was more like get everyone their fish so we can get home. Also I feel the fillets were sliced thin with some meat wasted due to the rocky seas. I watched the deck hand (who was great) cut the fish and it looked like he was going quite thin tossing carcasses with a lot of meat still on them over board. Our fillets for 6 silver salmon weighed in at 15 pounds while our 6 sockeye which are suppose to be smaller on average v silvers was 22 pounds of fillets for 6 fish. I'm no expert but that did catch my attention.

Once back at dock the fish went off to Captain Jacks for processing and we headed back to the RV to clean up. We then wandered around town again before going to bed.

The next morning we had reservations to Kayak out to the Kenai Fjords to Aialik Bay with Kayak Adventures Worldwide. I was super excited about this trip because of the reviews here. The evening before I called and asked about the risk of high seas because our fishing captain had told me if I was sick that day it was good I wasn't going out the next day when it was going to be worse. I was told they would know if it was ok in the morning. The next morning they said we were go so we headed to their office. We were given a briefing collected gear then off to the water taxi. 2 guides were going out with 8 of us. There was no one else on the water taxi which I didn't think anything off till the girl on the taxi said there were normally other kayakers to but they were not going that day apparently. It wasn't until half way out that the guide mentioned that if it was to windy we might not be able to get out on the water. Now this is a $400 per person excursion. They tell you if they cancel you get your money back. No mention of what happens if you get out there and can't go out on the water. So the seas were very choppy but it was very clear out and nice and sunny but windy. The water taxi stopped and pointed out various wild life which was fun.

We got out to the glacier and it was VERY windy. The water that was suppose to be like glass had white caps from wind coming right off the glacier. We got the kayaks ready and they were going to try it anyway. My husband and I got to be the testers and went out first. Within a minute we were pushed sideways and washed back on shore. We later found out the wind was gusting at 35 knots and there was a small craft advisory with many smaller fishing charters canceled and other kayaking trips canceled. So we sat on the beach and ate our lunch while we waited for the water taxi to come back. It fist stopped off to save some other kayakers that did try and go out and got stuck. While eating lunch (funniest part the only time my husband didn't cart that gun with him) a black bear snuck up behind us in the tall grass. He was less than 20 feet away when we noticed him. We all got in a group together and he looked more curious about out lunch meat sandwiches than aggressive or dangerous in any way. I got some cool pictures of his head sticking up through the grass :)

Water taxi took us back and to try and make it up they took us out to the glacier closer then looking for whales and wildlife for a bit. Back at the office we had to ask (it wasn't offered) if there was any kind of refund. They reluctantly offered us back $50 of the $400 per person (plus there was tax and a booking fee so really I spent $850) They said they are tied to the water taxi and if it goes out they go. I found this very frustrating because I basically spent $750 for a half day Kenai Fjords and wildlife tour. Upon getting home I argued with them some more and have been offered to go again when I return in 2015 to go for only the cost of the water taxi. While I'm still unhappy about this I guess I need to take what I can get. They do need to change the wording of their trips though because no where does it mention that you can get out there and not be able to kayak and then your out the full amount. NOT COOL.

The next day was our last. We had a flight home at 11pm. We pack up the RV and go get out fish from Cpt Jacks. 60 pounds coming home as checked baggage. A nice mix of Halibut, Sockeye and silver salmon. We then took a ride out to exit glacier and hiked up to the edge of the glacier. enjoyed the view for a bit then back to the RV. We drove back to Anchorage stopping to look at scenic views taking our time. Got back shortly before the ABC RV's closed (we could have returned after hours but catching the shuttle seemed easier) ABC handled everything great I was very happy with them. Got us to the airport where we checked our bags then put our carry ons in storage. We then took a cab into downtown Anchorage and shopped a bit and had a nice dinner. I was so sad to head back to the airport to fly home but missed my kids. We are now planning for a return in 2015. ABC RV's gets their RVs from Indiana. we live in Ohio so it isn't to far. We plan to rent one and drive it with out kids (by then 9, 12 and 15) all the way cross country and around Alaska. We enjoyed out trip so much I can't wait to go back.

Fairfield, Ohio
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1. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

If you just want pictures I took WAY to many. Every where I turned was beautiful. I made my album public :) https:/…

Duluth, Minnesota
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for Cabo San Lucas
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2. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Great report! Your Denali experience has me thinking about finally taking the plunge next year and heading up there, but those darn fish make it hard...:) Glad you were able to get on the reds, it's cool to be there when there are so many jumping around, but I hear you about the frustrating part till you figure out what you're doing! Pity about your kayaking experience...I hope you can take them up on a 2nd try. All in all sounds like a great trip:)

Edited: 30 July 2013, 11:48
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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3. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

What a great trip you guys had . . . thanks for sharing the experiences with us via your trip report & photos! Yes, it's a shame about the kayak tour and the fact that they didn't clearly explain their policies to you. The bear photo is pretty cool though, glad you caught that.

As for the fishing, all I can say is WOW. You guys did great and have a lot of yummy fish for back home.

USA
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4. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Incredible views of the mountain! Glad you got the reflection pond view. From your great pics I see I've hiked up that Polychrome ridge- quite a hardy hike! Lucky you!

Thanks for the great report.

Edited: 30 July 2013, 15:10
Fairfield, Ohio
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5. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Thanks. It was an amazing trip. I'm really looking forward to going back. We had wonderful weather and really aside from the kayaking it could not have gone better. I am a huge fan of having an RV. Ours was a little 19 footer which was a great size for the 2 of us and easy to maneuver due to its smaller size. The flexibility to change plans on a whim was really nice. I admit having a bathroom along with us for the ride is something my husband just can not appreciate at the same level that I can lol. Being able to fix food in the kitchen was a real money saver too. We just hit Fred Meijer before we left Anchorage. Another tip for anyone from out of town. If your grocery store is a Kroger of Fred Meijer or part of that chain and does fuel points you can use them in alaska at Fred Meijer. Saving a $1 a gallon filling up an RV is VERY nice :)

Chantilly, Virginia
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6. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Thanks for so much information. I till be traveling from VA to Alaska next summer in an RV with my 11 and 13 year old. Glad I am not the only one. Everyone has been telling me I am crazy.

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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7. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Karin - you won't be the only one - trust me, it is a very popular way to explore Alaska but not everyone tells about it on travel forums. :)

haines, alaska
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8. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Karin you will have a great time and your lucky kids will have many wonderful memories !......Please take the time to write up a trip report when you get back.......it would really help other travelers with children who are considering this option......oh, and tell everyone you are definitely not crazy !

Las Vegas, Nevada
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9. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

Karin, there are travel blogs you can read that will give you sense of the routes people take, places they visited, campground recommendations, sights, activities, etc.

www.mytraveljournal.com is one site. Select ' Best Trip Journal" , then find the US and select Alaska. People blog and post photos to let family members follow along on their travels. There are trips that start in Florida, or the midwest or the west coast. There are hundreds of them for Alaska. Have a wonderful adventure!

p.s. be sure to buy The Milepost for your trip thru Alaska. Great resource to have with you.

Edited: 18 October 2013, 00:26
10. Re: Trip Report- RV July 11 - 22nd Denali, Soldotna, Seward

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