October 2, 2013, Category: Alaska, Travel

The drive down the peninsula to Homer is spectacular. Breathtaking scenery and a narrow 2.5 mile tunnel through a mountain. Incredible.

Day 9: Anchorage to Homer

Check out the novel: Trudge On, Soul

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The icy wilderness of Alaska is the perfect place to lose yourself. But Warren doesn’t want to lose himself. He wants to lose someone else.
The book, Trudge On, Soul, is the result of three long years of late nights, critique groups, and editing. If you haven't read the blog, I'd suggest you stop reading and at least click here to read the preview chapters of the book. The blog and pictures have spoilers and the book is a much better read. Think of the website as a documentary, and the book as an engaging movie. Triumph Motorcycles did an article on my Adventure here. A Photo Album of the trip is available here. Click here if you want to jump to the start of the blog with an index of each day.

The Adventure Continues...


DSCN0369-001I’m going to put your mind at ease, right here, right now. Today was spectacular. I won’t be bothering you with rain, broken motorcycles, or other general grumpiness. If you want more of that, reread the past few days. The goal today was to drive south and explore the Kanai Peninsula, first to Homer and then on to camp in Seward. As you will see, that didn’t quite happen. We were on the road by 8:30 underneath some threatening clouds that were holding Anchorage hostage. But with speedy maneuvers, we gave it the slip and escaped into sunshine.

IMG_1347Out of Anchorage, the Seward Highway hugs the side of the mountain and follows the coastline for 35 miles of scenic riding that passed by way too fast, even with a couple of stops. With all the gorgeous roads we’ve seen, you would think I’d get desensitized to the beauty of the waterfalls, green forest, glaciers, and jagged mountain peaks. But no. And today was jam packed with it.

At the Whittier turnoff, we decided to take a look. The sign said 12 miles but my GPS said we had to turn around and go 400 to get there. 12 miles? I decided to trust the sign rather than my GPS. Plus I’d heard there was a cool tunnel. We went through a little tunnel and stopped to look at a lone iceberg out in the middle of a lake. The tunnel wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, I mean, I’ve seen way more impressive tunnels. But we kept going…and then we found the real tunnel.

IMG_1339To drive into Whittier, you have to pass 2.5 miles through the mountain on the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. It is a straight-shot, single-lane road that is shared throughout the day by trains and vehicles. We had timed it just right because it was just about to open for traffic going into Whittier. Otherwise we would have had to wait an hour. I’m not sure how you’d get through if you were backpacking and on foot.

DSCN0386We drove up and stopped at the toll booth. The booth lady came out and gave us very detailed instructions. We’d have to wait until all the cars went through and then she’d send us through on our own, because of “all the motorcycle accidents.” She warned us about the rails and that we had to make sure to keep our speed down. If you watch the video (which takes you in high speed from the Lake through the tunnel) you’ll see how serious she looks about these instructions. By the time she finished I wondered if we should even begin such a dangerous mission! But, it turned out to be no problem and a lot of fun!

The video isn’t fancy, but it lets you ride through the tunnel! We came out and a massive glacier and waterfall greeted us. Winding down the road, we passed a cruise ship and then rolled into the windy town of Whittier. It was so windy I had to flip my bike around so the wind wouldn’t blow it over while it was parked.  Whittier was a cute little touristy town but we didn’t stay long. We had just enough time to take some pictures and saddle back up for the drive back through the mountain.

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DSCN0401We backtracked the twelve miles and then continued towards Homer. Most of the trip was amazing; my jaw just kept falling open. I’d close it, then see something else amazing, and it fell right back open again. Up top it opened up into alpine meadows and gray peaks and I finally just left my jaw open because I was starting to look like a halibut opening and closing it (Homer claims to be the Halibut capital of the world).  We stopped several times, for a snack once and a bunch of times for road construction, and it started to get later than planned. Then we hit an 80 mile stretch that began once you drop out of the mountains and before you can see the coast that was painfully boring. I can’t entirely blame the landscape. We were following a slow pace car and it was during the time of day when my body wanted a nap (which it kept trying to do, despite slaps to the side of my face). But compared to what we’d seen, it was boring. Plus no wildlife, which shocked me. All this gorgeous country and nothing!

IMG_1431Once we hit the coast it got fun again. We stopped to look across the bay at Mt. Redoubt and Mt. ILiamna, two 10,000 foot volcanoes that, because of our cloudless day, were both standing grand and proud on the horizon. We waited and waited, hoping they’d erupt, but no luck. It’s been 24 years, seems like it should be time for another show.

We realized it was too late to make it to Seward and scoped out campsites for later as we continued our drive. We played the construction game several more times before arriving in Homer, and we proceeded all the way out onto the end of the pier (a five mile Florida-key like drive). It was warm, sunny, no wind, and the Seagulls gave it the required waterfront touch with their trademark chatters and cries. The shoreline was dotted with couples, families, and fishing poles. It was perfect. I snapped some pictures, called Curtis, and stretched out my back while Mike took a walk on the beach.

IMG_1486I later found out that this is where Mike put his father to rest, his ashes now forever a part of this amazing Alaskan landscape. I didn’t know his dad well as I had only met him a couple of times, but I can definitely imagine him beyond thrilled to have finally completed his motorcycle trip to Alaska. And what an honorable tribute from his son, to have chosen such a wonderful resting place.

We headed back to the campsite and I went off intercom to call Mikayla. I was having such a great time talking to her I didn’t stop until I lost my cell signal and then hooked back up to Mike. He said, “Hey War, didn’t we pass the campsite?” I had it on my GPS, no, we couldn’t have! We pulled over and looked closer and Mike was spot on. “I think it was ten or fifteen minutes back.” I apologized profusely and we backtracked. It was such a nice spot that we had to go back.

We set up camp in warm sunshine and each had several helpings of mashed potatoes and salmon.

Then we watched the sunset. The video isn’t that great, I used a different picture for the cover. Just to warn you.

It was a long busy day, even though we had only covered 250 or so miles. I wanted to stay up with a chance to see the Northern Lights, but the horizon was still somewhat light at 11:30 and I decided to hit the sack. I wrote the following in my journal before I dozed off:

Today was how I imagined our trip when we initially planned it, sunny, dry, warm, and gorgeous. I think we were very lucky to have a day like this and I hope we’ll get a few more. Tomorrow we have to be in Seward by 11am for our Fjord tour, which means getting up really early. It will be a long day and probably really cold in the morning given that it is so clear tonight. But the Fjord tour will be awesome!

Click here to continue to Day 10


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One thought on “Day 9: Anchorage to Homer

  • By Mama - Reply

    Another descriptive, fun blog post that makes me feel I’ve shared your trip … The easy way.

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