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3 days in AK?

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#21
DHappel

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So, today was my first full day in Alaska. I learned that the state motto appears to be 'closed for season'. Seriously, the weather isn't bad or anything but every park, every tour, every everything is closed. Tried to see Portage Glacier today. Visitor center was closed. Tour boat to take you to the glacier was closed (and pulled out for the season). Trail was closed. This is not starting out well. At least I saw a small iceburg on the lake - it was very blue and very far away. Mostly it just made me want more!

We were going to drive down to Seward tomorrow morning and do the hike out to Exit glacier but you guessed it - the road is closed. There are Sno-Cat tours that run and will get you out the road so you can hike or snowshoe the rest of the way to the glacier, but they don't start running until December. They open the park to snowmobiles, but only after there's a good 15" of base down. There's maybe 6" now, at least in the areas we've been to along Turnagain Arm.

Not cool man!

I may try to find a fishing charter and just go out to sight-see. Of course up here fishing is religion, so I might have a hard time explaining that I don't actually want to fish. (You don't want to fish? You mean you don't want to fish here? You want to go over there to fish? No? I don't understand?)

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#22
ROVRMAN2

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See if Kenai Peninsula is open to Homer, at least the drive is pretty.
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#23
DHappel

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Yes, the road is open to Homer. No reason for it not to be - there's barely any snow on the ground and not a drop on any roads! I think they are all just shut down 'in case' it snows. Tomorrow morning we're going to just throw the bags in the car and head to Homer and play it by ear from there. We have to be back in Anchorage from Michele's meetings on Monday night, so we're free until then.

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#24
DHappel

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I'm not much of a photo-taker. Plus it's been rather overcast today.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Don
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#25
TomOwen

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Look up Alpine Air Alaska, great outfit and amazing tours. If faster holds but you speak to someone, ask for ideas. Also, check out Akyeska Resort. Near alpine air, beautiful place and you can take a team to the top and look down on turnagain, etc... Restaurant on top quite good as is a cool visitors center/giftshop/lookout..

:lr:
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#26
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I'm not much of a photo-taker. Plus it's been rather overcast today.


Nice photos Don -- is the picture below the start of an off road trail? ::yellowlandy::

Posted Image

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#27
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(edit - can somebody move this to my Alaska thread - I wasn't paying attention and posted in the wrong place)


It's a part-time 4wd; SR5 I guess is the version. It drives OK. It's amazing how low my standards have gotten now that I drive the van and the Rover. If I was still driving the 335, the A4, or one of my Alfas I'd be ranting about what a POS this thing is.

It hasn't gotten really cold. I think 28 is the lowest I've seen on the thermometer. This morning we left Anchorage around 7 and it was about 30-32. The roads were clear but wet as we headed south on hwy 1 and I was thinking 'OK, even though the roads aren't frozen bridges could be so keep that in mind'. About 20 minutes later we were following a small SUV with about a 20' aluminum river boat on a trailer when he crossed a bridge and lost the trailer. (it was sill dark out so he didn't see that it was iced over) He fought it to the bitter end, but once the trailer started whipping around he had no chance to recover it. The oscillations got worse and worse until the trailer jack-knifed and spun the truck 180*. Amazingly, he didn't hit anything. He did break the tongue of the trailer which let the outboard skeg drag, but over all he got off pretty darn light. I didn't look at his truck, but he likely had some minor damage to the bumper or rear fenders from the trailer hitting them as well. That'll wake you up better than a shot of Columbian in the morning!

We sort of tip-toed after that for the next 45 minutes. It had started snowing again and we were seeing a fair amont of cover on the road for a while. But an hour later it was clear again and starting to warm up.

We did a short hike on the south side of Turnagain Arm in Hope, AK, then headed on to Homer where we are now. It kept getting clearer/warmer and by the time we got to Homer it was 40* and bright sun. We're staying at the Land's End at the very end of the Homer Spit tonight. $120 for a water-view room - not bad for a walk-in.

Tomorrow we're staying at a B&B (groan) in Seward, so we'll probably leave here around 10 or so. Just as well; it's not light out until like 8:30-8:45 anyway.

Edited by DHappel, 25 October 2014 - 07:07 PM.

Don
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#28
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(edit - can this be moved to the Alaska thread? admin: moved to AK thread)

View out the room as of about 7:00 this evening.

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Walked up the beach a bit - looking back toward the hotel.

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Homer small craft harbor

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Looking out at the spit from above. It sticks out into the bay about 4 miles I believe.

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I believe this is Mt. Iliamna as seen from the east side of Cook Inlet.

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Looking across Cook Inlet

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And the angry space-alien that is our mount for the week. Don't look it directly in the eyes or it will eat your face. Seriously, what where the Toyota designers smoking when they did this thing? That's a face not even a mother could love.

Posted Image

Edited by RedRover, 27 October 2014 - 05:56 PM.
moved on request 10/27

Don
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#29
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Off road? Well yes, in that it's a foot trail that's not a road. ::cheesy::

We won't be doing any wheeling on this trip I'm afraid. I did run the yota in 4-hi for a while on a snowy paved road after watching a guy jack-knife his boat trailer right in front of me this morning, but that's about it. Maybe I'll make up some excuse to try 4-low just to try it.

Don
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#30
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You rented a Toyota?....... Oh no

#31
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You rented a Toyota?....... Oh no

Don't worry Pedram it's a safe vehicle.......except for the airbags!������
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#32
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Is this the new rav4?

Posted Image

Edited by Pedram, 26 October 2014 - 10:04 AM.


#33
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A few comments about the angry insect that is the '14 4Runner.

We have an SR5 model. Part time 4WD w/lo range but no lockers or fancy traction control algorithms. It's the V6, not the V8. It's running a basic all-season sort of light truck tire (Bridgestone?).

The exterior:
Well, as long as you don't see the front of it it's not so bad. Nothing special to make it appealing, but nothing horrible either. It suffers from a common Japanese care malady of late - headlight/taillight bloat. For some reason the Japanese seem to love making the lights bulge out of the bodywork in recent years. The high floor/low roofline does make for poor visibility out; you feel like you're driving a pill box compared to a Disco/LR3/L4. And whoever designed the rear hatch needs a demotion. You have to reach over a good foot-deep sill to get into the thing. Of course, that area is filthy from all the road grime so you basically get dirty every time you try to get something out of the rear.

The interior:
Again, OK. It has another Toyota-esque feature I've encountered on the Camery and the Tundra where they just try to make everything bigger instead of making it better. All the knobs for the HVAC for example are gigantic. It feels like the Fisher Price 'my first 4x4'. The door handles on the exterior feel like cheap thin plastic - the same sensation I get from the Tundra. Remember the old line about how the doors on a Mercedes closed like a bank vault? Not so much here. As I mentioned, the exterior visibility isn't great because the roofline is relatively low so you can't see out as well, though visibility to the rear is decent for backing. I think it has a 3rd row seat but I haven't actually looked. Heck, we only put bags in the rear seats so I can't even say how they are. The step-in height is more than I expected but not a problem, though I could see that somebody buying it as a mall crawler might be annoyed. The (front) seats are firm with good lumbar and comfortable, but very wide and flat. Perhaps good if you're in need of a visit to Jenny Craig, but a little lateral support wouldn't hurt.

Driving:
Not bad - if you judge it as a truck. By car standards the steering is way too light and numb with no on-center feel. It inspires no confidence or desire to explore it's limits and you have to stay focused or you'll find yourself easily drifting around in your lane. But it's not bad as a truck. And given this is one of the last body-on-frame SUVs, I'll say the chassis is tuned decently. The ride is firm but not harsh. Not too much body roll. All in all, better than I expected.

The same can be said about the V6. Granted, I'm not demanding a lot of it on this trip; driving a lot at 50-60 mph on flat or moderate hills, but there's plenty of power for passing even going up-hill. Honestly - and I can't believe I'm saying this - I don't think the V8 is needed unless you're towing or at elevation. OK, my opinion might change if I were at home where 85 mph is normal, but over all it seems fine. There is one issue with the motor, and that's the awful sound it makes under any load. Rev it past 3000 rpm and it just sort of moans and feels like you're trying to kill it. It will still pull, but you won't enjoy the experience and it will do everything it can to convince you it doesn't like it either!

So far I'm showing a bit over 20 mpg on the dash meter. Again that would be lower if we were at home driving in a city or on a freeway or in stop and go traffic. We've had nearly perfect conditions for maximizing economy with rural low-speed 2 lane highways much of the time at 50-60 mph.

Off-Road:
Well, I don't really know. I've driven in a bit of sand and some loose gravel on the beaches, and a little icy/snowy/slushy pavement. In both cases I was in 4-high, though I could have done either in 2wd I'm sure. I didn't want to take any chances with a rental, alone, with no recovery gear, so I'm not pushing any limits. I may yet find a trail or two, but I'm not counting on it. I was hoping to get out into some snow (the main reason I booked a 4wd) but there's just not much snow on the ground around here at this point.

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#34
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Yesterday we drove from Homer to Seward where we spent the night in a B&B. I was not overly impressed, but then again I'm not really a B&B sort of person. When we arrived it was quite windy and the bay was a mess; this morning it was calm and the bay was flat. I suppose that change is part of why none of the tour/charter boats were running - it's just too unpredictable to schedule anything this time of year.

Seward, even more than most of the places we've been, was pretty much closed for the season. At about 7:30 PM we tried to find an open restaurant for dinner. I though we were going to strike out! We eventually found a Chinese place that was open, though we were the only people in the place. On the plus side, the food wasn't half bad.

As I mentioned before, the road into Kenai Fjords NP and up to Exit Glacier was closed. My understanding, and that of some locals we spoke with, was that they close it when the snows start as they don't plow. But it hasn't yet snowed in Seward - not a flake to be seen - and still the gate was locked. So I've struck out on my hope to get up close and personal with a glacier, though we've seen plenty of them from a distance.

We're now back in Anchorage as Michele's meetings are tomorrow. I may take off and see if I can find something interesting to test the yota on while she's paying the bills. Otherwise we fly back on the red eye tomorrow night.

More photo fun:

I've been looking for a new anchor for my boat. I think this would do the job. (note the weight written on it)
Posted Image

Found this in the local market. Apparently they were expecting me to bring the van.
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Over by Homer again - did I mention they have serious tides here? Second biggest in the world I understand. Around 30' swing. This isn't even at full low.
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More low tide pics. This is Clam Gultch SP. We did do a little driving on the beach but I wasn't ready to risk getting myself stuck in soft sand/gravel with nothing in the way of recovery gear so I played it pretty safe. The beach was also full of small (about 8" across) dead frozen jellyfish. Apparently they only live a year then die and wash ashore.
Posted Image

Remember above when I said the rear hatch of the 4Runner was a poor design? Here's why. When closed it looks like any other SUV, but when you open it you see there's another big step up/forward to get to the load floor. I'm not sure if they are all this way or if maybe this is so they can fit in a 3rd row of seats or what, but it's annoying.
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Resurrection Bay as seen from Seward. I. Want. Boat!
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Those jellyfish over on Clam Gulch beach? They were also in Seward, just not as many and not yet frozen.
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Just a valley on the side of the road north of Seward.
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Portage Pass
http://i816.photobuc...zpspi2hqgzx.jpg


That's about it. I've seen just enough to know I really need to come back sometime more in-season when we can really explore things. We've only seen a tiny part of the state and it's pretty spectacular.

Don
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#35
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Ok - heres a tip for you to plan around. If you are going to be up there in September timeframe, register for this:

http://www.nps.gov/d...oad-lottery.htm

Hands down, you'll see the most wildlife close up. And you will be able to do it at your own pace -- hopefully all the way to Highway 85. Take a gamble and try to spend the night at Wonder Lake, if you can handle the bears!

Denali hasn't been hunted in a long time, so the critters aren't scared of people.
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#36
RON CT110

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Ok - heres a tip for you to plan around. If you are going to be up there in September timeframe, register for this:

http://www.nps.gov/d...oad-lottery.htm

Hands down, you'll see the most wildlife close up. And you will be able to do it at your own pace -- hopefully all the way to Highway 85. Take a gamble and try to spend the night at Wonder Lake, if you can handle the bears!

Denali hasn't been hunted in a long time, so the critters aren't scared of people.


If your ticket is not picked for the lottery, the winner can transfer it. Hmmm. Perhaps an opp to find ticket for sale and maybe the way to go w/the Land Rover trip to Alaska!

Thanks for the tip Chuck!

Great photos by the way Don!

Edited by RON CT110, 28 October 2014 - 07:32 PM.

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#37
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Although the timing isn't great, we may be back again next year if Michele does the same conference again. Of course the weather could be totally different, and we still wouldn't be driving up, but I'll take it if I can get it.

Don
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#38
RedRover

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We've only seen a tiny part of the state and it's pretty spectacular.


Good post/write-up, Don. Every time I read an Alaska post, it makes me want to take the long drive with the Rover... one of these years I will do it.

-Jared

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#39
TigerDan

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I spent two weeks in Alaska the summer I was 15 visiting my sister who was living in Fairbanks at the time. We pent most of the time in and around Fairbanks but took a few days to go to Mt. Denali. I've wanted to go back ever since, and after my mom's trip to see my niece in Anchorage and seeing the pics from that trip, (and Don's as well) I have a renewed interest. Heck, I could happily live there...but it would make travel to band rehearsals and performances and NCLR meetings and trips a bit of a PITA!

#40
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I've been looking for a new anchor for my boat. I think this would do the job. (note the weight written on it)
Posted Image


Thanks -- I was wondering where I left that...

-Jared

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