A Crystal Clear Week in the Kenai Peninsula
KENAI PENINSULA, ALASKA- $99 down, and I was off.
Having sold “the van”, I immediately converted my share of the old hunk-of-junk into a weeklong rental of a 2014 Subaru Outback, replete with heated seats, auxiliary cord, and four-wheel drive. After spending the summer riding around in our decrepit 1994 Nissan Quest with a nearly-blown transmission it was a luxurious upgrade, to say the least. The back seat was big enough that I could spread out my sleeping bag and spend the night in the warm confines of a reliable vehicle, without really having to move any of my stuff—a priceless feature when setting off to explore the Alaskan landscape.
My weeklong adventure on the Kenai Peninsula was off to a good start. I had just wrapped up the summer season working in Denali National Park, which bid us adieu on the 16th of September with a progressively heavy snowstorm. Hauling south in the mini-van, I wasn’t sure if we’d make it, but the further down the Parks Highway we got, the more the snow seemed a distant memory. Margot was still hard at work at Alaska Wildland Adventures, and I was off to spend a week staying with her—my home base for exploring southern, coastal Alaska--the Kenai Peninsula.
I enjoyed my summer in the mountains immensely, but there’s no feeling in the world like being next to a body of water. Driving out of Anchorage, the Seward Highway winds around the Turnagain Arm, a small body of tidal water across which you can easily spot the Kenai. Windows down, music turned up, feeling the fresh coastal breeze whipping through the car…it was a feeling of freedom, unmatched by virtually anything else in this world.
The Kenai is small by Alaskan standards. There are only a handful of roads that crisscross the peninsula, connecting the “major” towns of Seward, Homer, and Hope to each other. Cooper Landing, where Margot lived, is a small fishing enclave located on the Kenai River, in the center of the peninsula, centrally located for exploration.
The weather in Alaska is a fickle bitch, with intense periods of rain, snow, sleet, drought, forest fires, and cold. Yet I was fortunate enough during my week in the Kenai to have seven straight days of sunshine, free of clouds and cold. It was really quite a feat, and left a fond impression on me…Alaska as a place where I could drive wild and free, with no traffic or cars impeding my progress, at one with the landscape I was so fortunate to drive through, no tourists or riffraff to get in my way.
I could sit here and wax philosophical about the clean, pure landscape of Alaska in late autumn, overusing descriptive terms that have long been played out by other writers before me, but a week in the Kenai is best seen through a photo journal. I invite you to enjoy mine.