Williwaw Campground to Eagle River Campground, AK
Monday, August 5, 2013
Heavy overcast, 52 to low 70s

The off-and-on, all night rain left us with heavy clouds obscuring the glaciers above our campsite. We headed just a mile or so to the Portage Glacier Gift Shop and Café where we purchased tickets for the short, Portage Glacier, boat tour. The tour runs up and around a corner in the lake, left behind as the glacier began retreating, to the current face of the glacier.

Portage Glacier Tour Boat Dock

The whole trip takes only an hour but it was really a neat little cruise. We passed lots of lovely waterfalls along the way and the ice, when we got near the face of the glacier was a really intense shade of blue. The captain said that cloudy weather does seem to intensify the color. One of the things the crew does is to bring a piece of glacier ice on board so people can feel it and chop chunks off to cool their beverages. Sandy asked if we could keep the remainder for our ice chest and they said, "Sure!" So now we have glacier ice in our cooler.

Blue Hued Bergy Bits Grounded by Wind

Only a Tiny Portion of Portage Glacier Still Overhangs Lake

Our Portable Cooler Gets a Chill From Glacier Ice

We stopped, again, to check to see if more salmon were running at a nearby observation platform that we'd stopped at on our arrival and saw about the same amount of action as we'd seen earlier. We also took a short walk to a small fish ladder on a nearby lake hoping to see some fish climb the ladder but all was quiet.

Three Salmon on Their Way to Spawn

Salmon Anglers Line Bird Creek Shore at Low Tide

Returning to the Anchorage area we stopped at Potter Marsh, part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife refuge and just south of the city. The marsh is an accidental impoundment created when the road was built along the edge of Turnagain Arm. There is an extensive boardwalk and we walked it looking for wildlife. We didn't see a lot but there was a bald eagle as well as some waterfowl.

Are Autum Colors Already Beginning to Show on Potter Marsh?

Not wishing to use any of the sad excuses for RV parks in downtown Anchorage, we continued past the city and settled in at Eagle River Campground on the outskirts of the city. It was nice place operated by the Alaska DNR.

Dinner was leftover roast chicken, steamed green beans and canned cranberry sauce. The evening was a pleasant one to sit outside and read.

Eagle River Campground to Fox Run Campground, Palmer, AK
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Overcast, a bit of sun, 55 to low 60s and windy

We're headed towards Valdez but there's not much of interest between where we were and there. So, we decided to stay near Palmer so Bill could write and Sandy could find things of interest. We had breakfast at the Valley Hotel & Café on the Old Glenn Highway before making it a short driving day.

We chose to stay at Fox Run Lodge & RV Campground a few miles west of Palmer. While Bill got started on the website stuff, Sandy cleaned the inside and outside of the camper. Then she headed to Palmer, stopping at the visitor center and a few shops.

Dinner was a simple affair of chicken stir-fry with red cabbage, zucchini and onion.

Fox Run Campground, Palmer, AK
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Overcast, mid 60s

Bill did website stuff all day while Sandy did the laundry, food shopping and got a haircut and a massage.

On a couple of trips to town we noticed a train being loaded with gritty gravel. On close inspection we saw that the train moved continuously while an operator turned the flow of gravel on and off. Another half-mile-long train was loaded each day. That's a lot of grit!

Gravel/Grit being Loaded onto Half-Mile-Long Train

Sandy had read about Humdinger's Gourmet Pizza Company in Palmer. It was supposed to make great, gluten free pizza so we decided to give it a try. Great idea! It was a gem of a restaurant and an excellent find in Palmer. It was housed in a tastefully decorated converted gas station/garage. The pizzas were baked in an impressive, wood-fired oven. They made their own dough daily and turned out excellent pizza, gluten free or otherwise!

Fox Run Campground, Palmer to Tolsana Wilderness Campground, AK
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Partly sunny, 64 to 70 and sunny

The idea, today, was to drive about halfway to Valdez, our next major stop. Tonight we would join our friends, Kay and Bill. We got on road about 10:00, starting out driving a loop of the Old Glenn Highway to see a few sights.

First stop was a powerhouse outflow along the Knik River that was supposed to be a hot-spot for salmon fishing. We found lots of fishermen. They were seeing salmon breaking the surface of the water but they were not catching any. Second stop was a local roadside market. We'd hoped to see some of Palmer's legendary monster vegetables. We found a nice, prosperous roadside market but no monster veggies.

Next stop was the Palmer Visitor Center's gardens. They have a pretty spectacular flower garden. They also grow some very nice vegetables but no monsters; not yet anyway.

130808RiotOfColorAtPalmerVisitorsCenterGarden 130808SandyChecksOutSubstantialRubarbInPalmer
Riot of Color in Palmer Visitor Center Garden as Sandy Checks Out Substantial Rubarb a Few Feet Away

Getting serious about getting to our day's destination we again drove by Matanuska Glacier and noted that the once brilliant pink fireweed along the road was beginning to go to seed. Arriving at Tolsana campground, we were pleased to find quiet, secluded campsites with nice amenities. To boot, we got a site next to Kay & Bill so we could socialize easily.

We cooked up a shared dinner. Kay and Bill made excellent salmon tacos while we provided sautéed chard and corn on cob. It was a beautiful evening.