Part VI: Sterling Hwy

222 miles of Sterling Highway connects the end of the road town of Homer and the largest city in the state Anchorage. While we already made several stops on the way to Homer, we had plenty left for the way back.

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We make our first stop at the pullout overlooking the Kachemak bay with informative bay and a large sign “welcome to Homer – a Halibut fishing capital of the world.” We keep driving north and soon take a side road to Anchor Point, the most Westerly highway point in North America, home to a state beach park and several camping grounds. Now I have already been to the Southernmost point in the U.S. in Key West, Florida and have driven the Northernmost hwy in the U.S. – the Haul road, a subject of my future post, leaving only the Easternmost point untouched at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine. I like extremes as you can probably tell by now.

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Continuing on we skip a nearby Russian old believers village of Nikolaevsk, to where old believers escaped after the Communist revolution and even today continue to speak Russian and wear traditional clothing, and instead visit a small state fair in Ninilchik. Full of award winning crafts, vegetables, and cattle, the fair mostly serves as an attraction for young kids enjoying pony rides, llama encounters or a ride in a mini amusement park. It keeps raining on and off while we are exploring the fair and soon many passageways get wet and muddy, almost impassible without rubber boots. We decide to take advantage of a short break in the rain and keep driving, leaving Ninilchik behind.

Passing Soldotna and Sterling we park at the Russian river trailhead, a popular fishing and camping spot where salmon runs throughout the summer and brown bears are frequently seen fishing from the banks. We drive up to the lower falls trail and descend to the river via a paved trail that continues along the waterway with marked access points leading into the stream for fisherman. Several fisherman examine their catch on the opposite shore and a flock of birds nips on a large salmon carcass on one of the rock formations.  Salmon are already past the spawning stage and are slowly dying coloring the Russian red and providing an easy meal for the wildlife.

We make no further stops until we are mere miles away from Anchorage, rounding the Turnagain arm, where we pullout for a splendid sunset view of the mountains and the ocean colored in soft golden light. Passersby climb over the Alaskan railroad tracks running just parallel to the inlet and into the rocks to get a better view of the sun reflecting in the calm ocean waters but determined to make it to Anchorage before the end of the day we just snap a few quick photos and continue on our way.

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We finally get to Anchorage and meet our host by late evening. He quickly gives us a tour of his house while his puppy is on a mission to lick every guest to death, and introduces us to another couple from France and two guys from Germany also staying at his place.  The French couple just bought a van in Alaska and planned to take all the way across the Americas on a half a year two-continents journey.  And one of the German guys came for an exchange program to spend a semester in the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, while his companion only joined for a few days.

We drop the luggage at the house and drive downtown to get an apricot chicken celery carrot pizza at the Moose’s Tooth, a well-known and loved Anchorage pub. Who knew this combination of ingredients could result in an absolutely delectable pie and most importantly it included no tomato sauce, which instantaneously ruins any pizza for me.  Back at the house we finish up leftover salmon salad with baked potatoes and head to bed to get some sleep before a long drive the next day.

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