Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

Cook Inlet panorama

Mt. Redoubt

Mt. Iliamna

ships passing

campground view

fireweed

wildflowers

more great weather

Russian church

Old Nilnilchik


The bustle of Soldotna soon gave way to the spectacular shoreline of Cook Inlet. Between the pines glimpses of a huge volcanic mountain covered with snow lured us on. After a short drive we pulled in to a small twenty site campground on a bluff overlooking Cook Inlet with views of four snow covered volcanic mountains. The campground owner met us with smoked salmon which he had prepared himself. He gave us a tour, explaining that when he first came up here with the intention of buying land for a cabin, he came to this spot and could not stop looking at it. We totally agree. He's only here in the summer and spends the rest of the year working so he can afford to come here in the summer and lose money on this campground. With these views, his decision makes perfect sense. People come here planning to stay a few days and end up staying weeks on end. Ferry reservations will cause us to move on, but we'll have to drive right by again on the way north. We'll see...

The dominant mountains looking right across Cook Inlet from the rig window are Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna, both over 10,000 feet high. Although they are fifty miles away, it feels like we could reach out a hand and touch them. Huge cargo ships sail by and look like canoes in the distance. These mountains begin the chain known as the Aleutians extending west over 1,700 miles beyond the International Date Line to the Bering Sea, separating the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Mt. Redoubt has erupted quite often since 1989, causing havoc with flight schedules and sprinkling ash as far away as Anchorage. Through a viewing scope we could see a plume of steam rising today.

With a little warmth and sunshine the wildflowers are really starting to perform. The campground is full of fireweed. As its name implies, it's one of the first plants to appear after an area has been burned, but it also functions as a weather forecaster. It started blooming bottom up and when the blossoms at the top bloom as well, it's a signal that it's about to snow. Right now it provides a beautiful frame to the views of Cook Inlet, but we'll keep an eye on those top buds.

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