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August 18, 2016

It’s Prettier in Whittier, on the road home …

It’s time to say goodbye to the Homer Spit and begin the return leg.  Leaving the Spit behind we stopped for a wine tasting at Bear Creek Winery.  I figured I’d be SoCal ‘cute’ and ask for a dry red – no way to grow grapes up here! – dang they fooled me!  They bring in grapes! and make some very pleasent dry reds including some mixes with their ‘estate grown’ berries and rhubarb!  Nice stop!
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Laundry at the Washboard, including Rufus at the neighboring car/truck/boat/RV wash and we were done for the day.  A whooping 5 miles to the Ocean View RV Park.  The best TV reception of the trip, ok WiFi and cell, but it was nice to catch-up on the Rio Olympics.
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Retracing the route toward Soldotna there is SUN!  OMG – SUN!  Blue Sky and the long lost SUN!  We stop at Safeway to replenish and enjoy a lunch with a view in the city’s Soldonta Creek City Park.  The park is divied into several sections offering safe access to the river, including fishing platforms.
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Heck with travel plans we pull into Beluga Lookout RV Park in the SUN!  We can walk on the beach, watch Olympics, use WiFi and do it all under a SUNNY sky! 
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Adjacent to the park is a trail leading down tot he beach along the Cook Inlet. 
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There are two historic churches an easy walk from the park.  The Chapel of St. Nicholas is built over the graves of the team that brought the smallpox vaccine to Kenai.
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The Russion Orthodox Church claims to be the oldest ‘continous use’ Orthodox church.
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This is only our 2nd rain free day, but alas it does not last.  Still a most welcome stop.

We again pass the Russian River Ferry … in the rain.  If you can stop here it is $12 to park, and the fee for the ferry, but there is ‘rumored’ to be a great waterfall 2.5 miles from the far shore … Maybe next time.
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Cooper Landing is along the most scenic sections of the river, offering hiking, float trips and of course lots of fishing opportunities.   Alas we chose not to stop (in the rain) but to push on toward Portage Glacier, trying to get ahead of the rain.
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That plan did not work, it’s raing heavy at the Visitor Center!  Not the torrents we have had, but enough to want to avoid it. 
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Our Whittier-Valdez Ferry is still a day away, giving time for the rain to let up.  The Williwaw Campground is a short backtrack and we’ll see what the morning brings.  Situated under Middle Glacier and offering 60 sites its an easy choice for a night’s stay.
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Waiting out the rain turned out to be one of my better ideas!  Altho it poured all night, the wind gently rocked us to sleep.  But by morning the storm was just a whimper of what had been.

The Byron Glacier Trail is a very easy 1.6 mi R/T to the view point. 
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The timing was perfect to catch the morning cruise on the Ptarmigan to view Portage Glacier.   Note the blond ‘eye candy’ on the upper deck?  That’s our captain!

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The 3 mile Whittier Tunnel is one of those unique multi use tunnels.  Traffic to Whittier pays a toll ($13 +) and can use the tunnel on the half-hour.  Traffic from Whittier pays no toll and has use of the tunnel on the hour.  Either traffic flow will be disrupted if the train wants to use the tunnel. 
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We knew Whittier was small, but it’s really downright tiny!  More of a village than a town.  All the activity is centered around the waterfront.   It offers cruises and fishing opportunities in Prince William Sound, a few resturaunts and gift shops and one fish monger.  But best of there is SUN on this side of the tunnel!  SUN!!!
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There really is only one option to stay in Whittier – Creekside Campground.  A GWAD aweful dry site for $20.  But it’s tucked into the trees at the base of the creeks and easy walk to town.
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Tomorrow we’ll be taking the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez
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