* The Sun here plays games with your internal clock. People who live in a place for a while can generally tell the time of day by the sun, ie early morning, late afternoon or late evening. When you get someone from the Maryland and have them to tell time in Alaska, that person is usually off by 3-4 hours. When we think it’s 5pm,- the sun is a couple of hand-width above the horizon,- it’s actually 8-9pm. When you see the sun setting over the mountains, it means it’s 11:30pm, not 8-9pm. This has been playing havoc with my sense of time, I can usually tell what time it is down to the 30min-1 hour range without looking at my watch, here, I’m usually off by at least 2-3 hours.
* Kayaking in Aialik Bay in Kenai National Park was a blast. Dave and Marty had dry suits and I had my basic synthetic clothes. We were dropped off in Bear Cove and the water was so clear and calm. This was awesome because the previous day we were practicing in 2 foot waves and choppy water. We kayaked and enjoyed the scenery and arrived at what was supposed to be our first stop, the Aialik ranger station. However the beach on which we were supposed to camp was covered by 5-6 foot of snow and the Ranger Station was still boarded up. We did find this flat spot that we were sure was above high tide and had minimal snow. However in the process of moving our gear, Marty noticed bird eggs in the middle of the rocky beach. We debated whether we should setup camp there or not; whether the birds had already abandoned the eggs. We decided to go a ways a bit and eat lunch and see if the birds came back. If they did, we’d move on and find another spot, if they didn’t we’d have poached eggs for dinner. The birds, which we later found out were endangered Oystercatchers, did return to their nest. Because of that we decided to head to our 2nd night spot a day early, the Aialik Cabin. This cabin we found buried under 6 food of snow and still boarded up. The outhouse was completed covered with snow and was un-useable. Upon examining the heater we found that the thermostat was busted but Dave managed to jerry-rig the thing with a safety pin making it stay on the whole time and thereby making the cabin unbearably hot. That night (10pm in broad daylight..) Marty had to return to the kayak to fetch something for Dave, on the way there she surprised a black bear less then 30 feet away from her. They both freaked out and the bear ran away as Marty slowly backed away towards the cabin. The three of us returned to the kayak a bit later and found the bear 200-300 yards away foraging for food. The next morning I went out to dig a hole and lose some weight... on the way back I noticed tracks in the snow that crisscrossed mine. On the way out, I was sure that I had the only tracks in the snow, upon examination of the tracks I realized they were bear tracks; so I had a bear walk less then 50 ft away from me while I was taking a dump... That day we explored the area and glacier. We even kayaked through the mini-icebergs, termed growlers. We watched the glacier calve while we had lunch. We had a blast over the next two days, as we had to be picked up a day early because of inclement weather; they weren’t sure they’d be able to pick us up if we didn’t leave a day early...
* There are two pictures I’d paint that would define this kayaking trip. One is me at 11:30pm walking out of the cabin in my boots, pants and t-shirt to brush my teeth. I walked up to the edge of the snow as it met the beach (6-7 ft drop-off as the tide washed the rest of the snow away..). Standing there brushing my teeth, I watched the sun set behind the Aialik Glacier, watched the birds swoop in and out and a random seal poke it’s head out of the water. Then I’d rinse my mouth with filtered snow-melt and then walk back to the snow covered cabin and go to sleep in daylight. The second picture I’d paint is the three of us would be kayaking and we would notice at least 1, if not more, seals would be stalking us. They would play this game of peek-a-boo; they’d poke their heads up just long enough for you to notice and the disappear back under the water and they would do this for a fairly long time and distance before they’d leave. They were also especially interested in Marty; we’d joke that Marty had a stalker.
* Our kayaking adventure wasn’t exciting enough we decided to have a gas adventure, this is where you run the gas tank down to the fumes in Alaska. According to my GPS the was only 1 gas station between us and Anchorage and that was a 10 mile detour off the highway to Whittier. We arrived at the junction exit and our uber-smart car told us we had 10 miles left in the tank. Then on the way into Whittier we found out that you have to pay a $12 toll to use a single lane tunnel that is also sometimes used by trains. The ironic part is the gas in Whittier costs $4.60 a gallon and the reason we didn’t fill up earlier was because all the stations we passed charged $4.30 a gallon and I knew Anchorage at $3.87 gas. So instead of saving money we had a 10 mile detour, paid 30 cents more per gallon for gas and had to pay a $12 toll. Dave has instituted the half-tank rule; we must fill up when the tank is less then half full.
* Food here is just expensive, a basic house salad (in most places would be considered side salad) costs $3.00, a cup of soup $3.00 and a bottle of Moosejaw beer $4.00, making a very light dinner $10.00 plus tax and tip. A full dinner in Alaska has been easily costing me $30, just crazy!