As we neared Anchorage, traffic increased but the roads improved. We Stayed at the Shipcreek RV Park near the railroad tracks on the industrial side of town. When we write "near" we mean the tracks were about 6 feet behind the RV. Although the park was well maintained and clean, the surrounding neighborhood was a little sketchy so we made sure to lock everything.
Anchorage has a large homeless population and we heard drugs are a problem in the area. We also heard about a hobo camp near Wasilla, an Anchorage suburb, having nearly 1000 homeless teens living in it. Even with the trains at our back door, we were able to relax knowing we were now on our own schedule. No work until October 26th when we report for duty at Bosque Del Apache NWR in Socorro, NM.
Tuesday, we drove down the coastline along the Cook Inlet. The coastline is beautiful with train tracks following the waters edge. At Beluga point, we saw large areas which we thought were schools of fish. Later, we discovered they were actually pods of beluga whales. We drove a little farther to see the Kenai peninsula better. Being on the road and already thinking of the miles ahead to the lower 48, we decided we didn't need to drive another 100 miles to go to the preserve so we turned around and headed to the battery shop where we were going to buy new house batteries for the RV. Kathy wanted to scope out the location to figure out to get in and out of the parking lot.
We stopped at another pullout and, while Joy took more photos of the inlet, a beluga whale surfaced right in front of us along the shore. We watched it swim along the coast away from us until we couldn't see it anymore.
Kathy had been talking for years of getting another tattoo but wanted to find the artist who did her first two and let him do the third. She's been searching for him without success. She decided it was time to trust a new artist, researched the studios in Anchorage and decided upon Primal Tattoo in Anchorage. She had already decided upon the tattoo - a Tlinglit raven modeled after one observed in the Denali visitors center. We stopped in to the shop, discussed the work, paid a deposit and made an appointment for the next afternoon.
Wednesday morning, on our way out of town, we had the batteries installed and then headed to the tattoo shop.
Kathy's tattoo was completed by noon after taking about 3 hours. We drove to Palmer to have lunch with Joy's childhood friend and neighbor, Erin, at The Noisy Goose Cafe. It was fun seeing Erin and having a real Alaskan give us tourist tips that were actually helpful. Erin is a photographer and took this great family photo for us.
We continued driving back toward Tok, completing the circle of Alaska roads joining Tok, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks. We again saw Denali - other side - this time at sunset. That means we are way more special than the regular 30%-ers that get to see the mountain on a clear day. We saw more glaciers as we drove into the sunset and decided to sleep in a pull out and dry camp. We used our new batteries - and our heater - without any problems. Thanks again to Ruth and Jim for taking such good care of us!
The next morning, we stopped at the VC, our home for the previous two months, on our way to the Yukon. We found Alesha there alone with no electricity and reduced generator usage. We talked her into cranking up the generator making us some fresh coffee because we have priorities! We drank coffee, hung out in that beautiful buildding for awhile, said goodbye and hit the road. We departed Alaska two months after arriving, changed for the better and with a lifetime of experiences.