Just Back From... a Motor Home in Alaska


Keith Stevens at the harbor in Homer

Keith Stevens; his wife, Mary; her sister; and her brother-in-law rented a motor home to explore small towns and national parks full of grizzlies and bald eagles—and to do it at their own pace.

Great local meals... Alaska king salmon, beautifully prepared and presented at Anchorage's Simon & Seaforts restaurant, where we also enjoyed spectacular views of Cook Inlet. Then at Chair 5 in Girdwood, we had fresh grilled halibut for lunch—they really know how to cook it.

Fun surprise... The shops by the harbor in Homer [PHOTO] and the town's public library. When we stopped to check our e-mail, we came upon a wonderful library with a great view of the Kenai Mountains and quite a collection of books in Russian. We had spotted a Russian village along the Sterling Highway on our way to Homer. [PHOTO]

Our favorite part... The float trip down the Kenai River. Captain Nolan took us from Cooper Landing to Jim's Landing. The river rolled high and fast, the soaring bald eagles were out in force, and the endless row of fishermen casting for salmon was an unforgettable sight. Did we see 100, 200, or more? We lost count!

Wish we'd known that... We should have turned the furnace on in the motor home we rented from Great Alaskan Holidays. [PHOTO] On the first night, we went to bed warm and toasty only to wake up desperate for more blankets. Once we located the thermostat, we solved that problem.

Worth every penny... The six-hour wildlife-and-glacier cruise from Seward to the Aialik Glacier and back. Within minutes of leaving the dock—and still within sight of the city of Seward—we spotted a whale in Resurrection Bay. We encountered several pods of orcas that seemed to be congregating in the inlet, saw sea otters, harbor seals, gray whales, humpback whales, porpoises, sea lions, and, finally, puffins perched on cliffs on the islands off the Aialik Peninsula.

We're still laughing about... The wildlife we saw in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge—it amounted to a single gray squirrel. He was cute, though! We had better luck during a bus tour through Denali National Park & Preserve on a clear, blue-skies day. We spotted grizzly bears, [PHOTO] Dall sheep, and Mount McKinley in the distance. [PHOTO]

What we should have packed... A hairdryer. It would have made the cool mornings more pleasant for my wife. Cool weather, wet head, not fun.

Hotels we liked... Comfort Inn near the Anchorage Airport and the Hampton Inn Anchorage. Both were clean and offered a nice breakfast and great shuttle service.

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