At Tern Lake, the only highway on the Kenai Peninsula splits in two directions. In one direction, Seward is at the end of the road, and in the other direction lies Homer. The road was built starting in Seward leading north to Anchorage, long before the Sterling highway connected the highway to Homer via Sterling. We visited and camped at both Homer and then after that Seward.
As described in one of our previous stories, we also explored the tiny town of Hope at the north end of the Kenai Peninsula and made a quick day trip to Seward. Overall our favorite campsite was along the Sterling Highway at Quartz Creek where we had a wonderful stay.
Quartz Creek is a small stream that feeds Kenai Lake. Kenai Lake has such a beautiful turquoise color. The next photo is of Tami kayaking on Kenai Lake. Here is a link to the story. Alaska’s playground is the Kenai Peninsula
Back to Quartz Creek
We liked the Quartz Creek Campground so much that we stopped there on our return trip northbound on the Sterling Highway. Also on our northbound trip, rather than stopping at the Harvest Host location in Sterling, we stayed at Johnson Lake campground sixty miles north of Homer. The campground at Johnson Lake was good and we camped about ten feet away from the creek. All night long we could hear the creek outside the window. The lake was beautiful.
Our departure from the campground was interesting. It was so interesting we used the horn. Typically we almost never use the horn. The air horn on our RV is loud enough that it startles us when we use it. We used it when exiting the campground getting on the Sterling Highway and waiting for the traffic to go by.
Leading this traffic was our friends who we last saw in Homer. They had a large group of followers who undoubtedly wanted to pass them. Our friends made an early departure from Homer intent on traveling all the way from Homer to Seward in a single day. As they went by, I honked the horn.
Four forty-foot-long Allegro Buses with their tow cars drove by, followed by about twenty cars. There was no way for us to pull out into traffic. About a mile north of the intersection, our friends all pulled over at a slow vehicle pull-out to let traffic behind them go by. Since we were behind all the traffic at the end of the line, we just kept going. I almost used the horn again but restrained myself.
The funny thing is we didn’t see our friends again that day. Once past them, we drove at our normal pace and probably had green lights in town in our favor. They were going slower, because it is much harder to get four large RVs through the stop lights than it is for the first one. Or perhaps they stopped for a cinnamon roll and maybe we missed it.
Fishing at Quartz Creek
When we were southbound we stayed at the Quartz Creek Campground for a week. During our stay, we made friends with the camp host. We met after our difficulties parking at our reserved campsite. You can look at the story noted above for the details. This time on our trip northbound, however, we only stayed two nights.
Sockeye salmon were running at the Russian River and Alaska-style “combat fishing” was in full swing. For those familiar with Sockeye fishing, the term swing has a double meaning. The camp host from Quartz Creek taught me how to fish the Russian River for Sockeye Salmon. It involves swinging the fly through the salmon holding water, either hooking a fish or followed again by a quick cast. Fishing Sockeye in the Russian put quite a few fish in our freezer.
During our previous trip southbound on the Sterling Highway, on a rainy day, we made a day trip to Seward to check out our upcoming campsite. This story is also in the story mentioned above. The short of it is that that bridge was too scary. That bridge is the reason we stopped at Quartz Creek instead of going to the campsite closer to Seward.
Seward is one of two ports on the Kenai Peninsula. Seward is at the head of Resurrection Bay. Resurrection Bay leads directly to the Pacific Ocean. On the west side of the Katmai Peninsula, Homer and Anchorage lie on the Cook Inlet. If you count Whitter as one of the major ports (it is for cruise ships), it lies on Prince William Sound along with Valdez. None of these ports are close to each other either by water or by road. Above all, Seward is known as a commercial fishing town.
At Seward, our campsite was right on the water (the best picture is at the top of this article). The location of our campsite is at the starting point for the Iditarod National Historic Trail. The trail commemorates the first dog sled teams that made the run from Nenna to Nome in 1925 carrying life-saving diphtheria serum.
In 1925, there was a Diphtheria pandemic in remote Alaskan villages. These villages were cut off from normal transportation except for dog sleds. Twenty pounds of serum was delivered to doctors in these remote villages by a combination of movement of trains (from Seward to Nenna) and dog sled teams from Nenna to Nome in less than six days.
Next time we visit Seward, I want to stay more than four days. They were four fast-paced days. We had to leave to get back to Anchorage so I could visit the VA hospital. VA health care in Alaska is rare. I first tried to get this chore done in Fairbanks in the middle of June. Then when we were southbound through Anchorage I tried again and failed again. So northbound through Anchorage was my last chance and I needed a couple of days to get it done so we left Seward earlier than I would have liked.
To calm any apprehensions, I was only trying to go to the lab and get some blood work done. It was so hard to accomplish because I was from out of town. I had to be very persistent to get it done. A simple blood test took nearly two months to accomplish. It wasn’t like I was asking for a kidney or something.
Seward was occupied first by the Qutekcak Native Tribe, then by the Russians. After the purchase of Alaska from Russia the ice-free harbor town was named Seward. I cover the history of this purchase in this story. Why Russia sold Alaska to the United States
In the development of Alaska, Seward was more important than Anchorage, and decerning people can find out the reason just by the names… I am not that decerning so it took me a while. The reason Seward was more important than Anchorage is that when a ship went to Anchorage is that it had to anchor and couldn’t make it all the way into the port. Anchorage had an ice problem along the coast in the winter. Seward, Whittier, and Valdez are ice-free ports.
In Seward, the Alaska Railroad built its southernmost station. Unlike Whittier, it didn’t require a mile-long tunnel to connect the town to the rest of Alaska. Here is a link to my story about that tunnel and Whittier. It is beautiful in Whittier
Like most of coastal Alaska, Seward was devastated by the 1964 earthquake which destroyed most of the Alaskan Coastal cities.
Seward lies at the north end of Resurrection Bay. While in Homer we took a day trip to Halibut Cove. We did a similar boat trip to Fox Island while in Seward. It was a great trip. Most of the pictures in this blog post were taken while we were on this trip to Fox Island. Here is a link to my story about our visit to Halibut Cove. It really is a magical place. I think the pictures are great and really tell the story. Halibut Cove
Unlike Halibut Cove, Fox Island was not as low-key. Rather, they were feeding multiple boatloads of visitors each day. I am glad that we had a much more relaxed visit to Halibut Cove during the previous week. I am also glad that our boat arrived at Fox Island first.
Arriving first meant that we were first in line at the buffet, first to hit the dessert table and first to depart. The building at Fox Island looks great but really we could have skipped the lunch and instead packed our own lunch. It is not that it was bad but when you feed hundreds, there are limitations in the quality department. Oh, speaking of the boat and the boat ride, this boat was much nicer than the one at Halibut Cove.
Although we didn’t get to see whales, the rest of the boat tour of Resurrection Bay was great.
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