Thursday, June 19, 2014

Whittier, Ak / Williwaw NF Campground

Every once in a while you find one of those places that just seem to hit you.
A place where you say.... "I can spend some time here"
Williwaw Campground in the Chugach National Forest is one of those places for us.

But again... I get ahead of myself.

On Tuesday the 4 of us drove down to the Turnagain Arm to try and catch the Bore
Tide.   We sat there for 3 hours but mother nature decided not to cooperate with us
and there was no wave.  Just an amazingly fast rushing incoming tide that would rise
36' in the next 6 hours... but no wave.

Maybe next time.

Yesterday - Wednesday - having had our shot of civilization and gotten our errands done,
we packed up camp and headed south into the wilds of the Kenai Peninsular.

Our destination was the Williwaw Campground and I had been looking forward to
this place since I first learned about it.   I was not disappointed.
No hookups but that is the way we like it....
Nice and natural.

This is a view in the campground.  
Our two sites are straight ahead and
to the left.

A short 2 hour scenic drive along the Turnagain Arm brought us to our home for the
next 4 nights.  I've tried not to move camps over the weekend so as to not worry about
anywhere being too full so we will stay here till sunday then head to Seward.

50' or so behind our site is this salmon spawning stream.
Our site is upriver on the left.

A self portrait taken as we walked the campground loops.
Notice snow capped peaks in the background

Our site: glaciers above us, streams next to us....
Nothing but the sound of the wind and the water.

Our site is good and sunny so I make more solar power than I could ever use.
We were making plenty last night at 10pm (and it was cloudy)

There is so much to do in the immediate vicinity.
On the suggestion of Dave & Linda we bought our Alaska Saver Books
for $99.  It is loaded with 2 for one deals.
We used our first two coupons today and already have paid for the book + some.

This morning we took a 1 hour cruise (2 for 1) on the MV Ptarmigan on Portage Lake and
got up close and personal with the Portage Glacier.

A national forest ranger accompanies the boat and explains the geology of the
glacier as well as the history of the area.

It was a fantastic way to kick off the day.

Next we headed about 6 miles to Whittier.
It would be a simple drive except for this gigantic glacier covered mountain
that stands between where we are and Whittier.

So...  we have a 2.5 mile one lane railroad tunnel that gets us there.
On the half hour you leave Portage for Whittier.  On the hour traffic flows in the
opposite direction.   
Then when the train needs the tunnel....  well the train gets the tunnel.

We arrived in Whittier just in time to see one of the Alaska Ferries arriving with a load
of passengers and vehicles.

Meanwhile we saw our first Sea Otters feeding in the cool ocean waters.

After a delicious lunch in a local seafood shack we walked to the marina
and secured tickets for our Glacier Boat Trip on Prince William Sound for tomorrow.
(another 2 for one deal - saved $119 on this ticket alone)

While we were at the marina we noticed the big Yellow "Fish School Bus"
The Alaska Dept of Fish and Game fish stocking truck, so we walked over
to investigate just in time to see them pumping thousands of King Salmon Fry
into a netted holding area.

They will keep them here till they get larger and then release them into the wild,
hopefully to grow large and spawn many more dinners.

The Fish School Bus.

Soon it was time to head back to camp and back thru the tunnel we went.
Passing Portage Lake - only 1/2 mile from our camp - we stopped for one last photo.

Tomorrow promised to be a bonus day...  hopefully bright sunshine as we venture
out onto Prince William Sound in search of more Sealife and Glaciers.

To answer some questions...
What are the night time temps like?

Cheryl - it gets cool at night.  Perhaps 40's,  Really good sleeping weather.
Daytime has been 50's to 70's.

How did I research and plan this trip?   

Well that's a bit complicated and I will devote a future
blog just to that.

What Happened to John and Dave?

Nothing...  they are still around.   
They go off on their own for a few days here and there 
then we hook back up when they start to miss the Doodles.

What am I using for internet?

In Alaska i'm using my Verizon MiFi.
It is spotty up north in the sticks but closer to anchorage and on the Kenai
thus far has been ok.   I use an external antenna that I can raise way up high and also
a wilson signal amplifier if needed to increase my signal Strength.

In Canada I am using an unlocked iPhone 4s and a virgin mobile sim card on a 
pay as you go plan.   I tether the iPhone and have to carefully watch my data usage
as you can burn thru gigs very quickly.

There are places up here where there just is no service... period.
You have to work around that.

Other places - Like Skagway for instance - had service but when the cruise ships hit
town all the folks hitting the tower slowed things to a crawl.
I found it easier to work online late at night then when all the ships were gone and
speeds picked back up.

Since it's still bright as day at 2am it's not as bad as it sounds.

Since I still work full time from the RV I have to plan my stops as much as I
can around having data accessible.   That is an easy task in the US but has been harder
here and the source of some stress when I am without service too long.

Over all - with some resourcefulness and willingness to work late hours you can either find
what you need.


  1. Ah yes, the Tour Coupon Book.... glad you got yours. We certainly benefited from ours.

    Williwaw... that places was full of mosquitoes when we were there. Some of the worst we and in Alaska (the other bad spot was a campground on the Denali Highway). Funny thing though, day after we left Williwaw our friends Mike and Terri Church stayed there and didn't have any mosquitoes. Strange!

    We took that ferry from Valdez over to Whittier. Costly but save us time and miles and we saw whales and had a nice time on the ferry with beautiful views.

    The sea otters were my FAVORITES! I absolutely fell in love with them.

  2. I can't imagine doing that trip and still working, but you've managed it well. I know how I feel if I don't have internet. How do you plan on where to stay and the availability of the internet?

  3. Greg and Kate: Again your photos are so beautiful and spectacular. You need to make the 2015 Alaska Calendar, I want one! I agree with Jan, your schedule with working and managing the office and all you do with that has to be very difficult most of the times. Heck, it is hard enough to work remotely when based at home at a desk and office, it is 10 times harder working this remote. I give you tons of credit for do that. Amazing. Again, I love the blog set up and the way you flow the stories into the photos and progress. It is PERFECT. Thank you for a great adventure.

    Hayden on Radeen's PC

  5. Wow, the photos are awesome! I keep going back over the blog & looking at them. Such a gorgeous place. I would love to see a glacier up close. Looking forward to the next blog, until then, safe travels!


  6. Greg:

    First - work is way overrated (hear me - I'm working on IP's all summer including my own!)

    Second - If you gotta work do it on your own terms (you are).

    Third - Otters - Lesley's animal! Feel free to post as many Otter pics as you can - she will in no way object!

    Look forward to our next get together - Lewis and the Doods!

    Stay warm.........


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