After Jake had eeked out his last minutes of beloved wifi, we left Stoney Creek and beautiful Seward to make our way back up the Seward Highway and then across the Sterling Highway to enjoy the sights of the Central Kenai Peninsula. As always, incredible views accosted us from all sides. Once again, although the day started out a little foggy, the clouds broke and the sun shone through affording us a beautiful scenic drive.
Dave S. had discovered a couple of months ago, in our planning stages, that the Kenai Watershed Forum was hosting their 22nd annual Kenai River Festival at Soldotna Creek Park. We were able to enjoy a fun, free, and entertaining afternoon. They had some fabulous kids' activity booths including making and launching a rocket, archery, voting booths, Great Horned Owl information, fish painting, puzzles, rock climbing, and free books. It was a phenomenal community informational event and resource which we were lucky enough to be able to incorporate into our trip.
As an added bonus, there was a beer garden featuring local brews, food tents, and a band. Without question, a fun afternoon was had by all.
We love chatting with the locals and one lady, who happened to be representing Alaskan State Parks, mentioned a couple of local campgrounds and also told us we had to check out the bakery across the road: ‘The Moose is Loose’. Feeling that it would be rude not to, we followed our noses and bought some delicious treats.
On our way to the campground, we stopped off in Old Kenai to admire The Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church which is a National Historic Landmark constructed in 1894. We assumed it would be fairly easy to spot as the pictures we'd seen tended to give the impression that it was quite tall with a dramatic blue spire. Sometimes pictures can be misleading! Thankfully the data plan on the iPad was working. and we managed to locate it hidden away in amongst houses and campgrounds – it was smaller than expected but quite pretty.
Given our proximity to the shore, we wandered down for pictures across the Cook Inlet of one of the ‘Four Sleeping Giants’. These are four active volcanoes which currently lie dormant but could potentially erupt at any time; this area is known as the ‘Ring of Fire’. Mount Redoubt is most prominent in stature when overlooking Cook Inlet however we planned to view Mount Spur, Mount Iliamna, and St Augustine later in the trip. These volcanoes are part of the Aleutian Mountain range which extends southwest along the Alaska Peninsula, eventually entering the Pacific Ocean and forming the Aleutian Islands. This Mountain range houses the majority of Alaska’s 130 active volcanoes and volcanic fields. Since 1970 Alaska has averaged more than two eruptions per year!
The kids spotted a path down to the beach and were pulled by an invisible thread toward the lure of the water! As Karen and I followed the kid crew, the Daves returned to the RVs to move them further along the shoreline and closer to the water. We were shocked by the speed at which the tide came in. Curiously, we watched a boat filled with fishermen, wondering whether they were stuck when in fact they were waiting for the tide to quickly turn. In no time at all, they were back on water! The boggy mud really grasped the kids’ feet and sucked them in. Naturally Jake had to try it out WITH his sandals on, sigh….with no water hookup or any place to wash them, his father was less than impressed!
Back on the road, we followed the Kenai Spur Highway all the way to its end at Captain Cook State Recreation Area. A number of the local volunteers at the Festival had recommended this location for camping. Discovery Campground was remote yet beautiful with an unfortunately large mosquito population. At $12/night, it was quite a deal though.
After dinner, we walked along the cliff footpath and descended down to the rocky beach below. The kids had an absolute blast skimming and throwing rocks into the water and climbing over the rocks. Ours have a definite obsession with water - if it’s there, apparently the younger two are required to be in it! Nate had his shoes off in no time and spent an hour in the ice cold glacial water! Once again we commented on the speed at which the tide encroached toward the shoreline.
It seemed almost cruel to tear them away from their fun, but despite the fact that the sun was still pretty high in the sky and shining brightly, it was after 10pm and beds were calling. The endless daylight certainly affected our body clocks; it was bizarre.