Chasing Dreams from Fairbanks to Anchorage – August 2018

After Fairbanks and the North Pole, we decided to retrace our steps down the Parks Highway. We learned that the bore tide south of Anchorage in the Turnagain Arm is supposed to be very unique and can be magnificent to see, so we thought we’d head back down and give it a shot.

The bore tide often happens during extreme minus low tides (but isn’t guaranteed). The one in Turnagain arm is one of the largest in the world and the only one bordered by mountains on both sides. The timing looked good as the next several days had promising tides.

As we retraced our steps along the Parks Highway, we of course passed the Denali National Park entrance. We considered going back and checking for any openings in either the Savage River Campground or Teklanika. We pulled in to the entrance, got some internet and checked the weather. Although the weather was decent today, it was supposed to get rainy again for the next few days. With heavy hearts, we decided to move on.

We saw Denali again, but not much of it.
Some more Alaskan construction. Nearly all of the construction in Alaska and northern Canada required waiting for a pilot car (or occasionally a traffic light), with wait times of up to twenty minutes common.

It was a partly cloudy day and we were hoping to get lucky to see Denali from one of the state park viewpoints. Our first stop was at the North Viewpoint. Nothing. Just clouds. We drove on and stopped at the South Viewpoint. We stayed there a little while and took a short hike there as well. In the time we spent there, we were finally able to see a small slice near the top third of the mountain. I guess we can say we saw Denali again. But it seems that our best view was definitely from Talkeetna the week before.

Big Bear was a decent campground with a mountain backdrop.

We did a lot of driving that day and finally found a site available at Big Bear Campground and RV Park in Palmer, a short distance away from Anchorage. After kicking someone’s toad out of the campsite we were assigned, we settled in for the night.

The marsh was in a beautiful setting.

The next day was a bit more leisurely as we drove through Anchorage and down to the Turnagain Arm. We stopped at the Potter Marsh boardwalk. Although the salmon were running and there were quite a few waterfowl, there were no bears or moose visible during the couple of hours we spent there.

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Why would you run across the tracks right in front of this short, fast moving train?

From the marsh we headed to Beluga Point to hopefully catch the bore tide. Although there is a viewing area at the parking lot, the better locations are across the railroad tracks on a small outcropping. Crossing the tracks is technically illegal but not enforced. That said, I am often amazed at the stupidity of people. A fast-moving passenger train came through, and three people were so worried that they might have to wait twenty seconds for it to pass that they rushed across the tracks right in front of the train. Had they tripped or been a little slower, Alaska would have been short a tourist or three. I just don’t understand risking your life to save twenty seconds.

We were hoping for a wave of a few feet, but got a few inches.
Kite surfers were enjoying the wind.

The tide was a tad late, probably because of windy conditions. More problematic is that we did not get a bore tide. Waves up to ten feet are possible, and but we barely noticed when the tide started coming in. We briefly considered hanging around and trying again the next day, but it was the weekend, good camping spots nearby were full, so we instead started our journey out of the state.

Alaskan decorating

We ended our day close to where we started, at Matanuska River Park in Palmer. Despite it being a weekend and a classic car show happening in town, the campground was emptier than when we stopped here after leaving Valdez. We grabbed the same spot we’d had last time and started planning our next destinations.

Day 81 (Day 47 in Alaska)

Miles: 351*
Driving time: 7:00
Roads: Richardson Hwy (AK-2, to North Pole), Parks Hwy (AK-3)
Road conditions: Good except for construction
Overnight: Big Bear CG, Wasilla, AK
Weather: Partly cloudy (45/68)
Total miles in Alaska: 2,153*
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 4,713*
Total miles: 6,281*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle, mileage includes side trips.

Day 82 (Day 48 in Alaska)

Miles: 128*
Driving time: 3:00
Roads: Parks Hwy (AK-3), Glenn Hwy (AK-1), Seward Hwy (AK-1)
Road conditions: Good
Overnight: Matanuska River Park, Palmer, AK
Weather: Cloudy (51/64)
Total miles in Alaska: 2,281*
Totla miles since crossing Canadian border: 4,841*
Total miles: 6,409*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle, mileage includes side trips.

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