What a packed day! We packed up this morning and headed back up the Glenallen highway a few miles to the Nova Rafting company. The kids have all been rafting before but it took some convincing to get Dan and Jane in the boat! The Matanuska River is fed directly from the glacier so the water was going to be cold. We were fitted with drysuits, booties, helmets and gloves. We rode the bus 12 miles up river and put in at Moose Creek. After 20 minutes of safetly talk, we were ready to go!
Our first task was to walk across a shallow part of the creek and boy was it cold! We loaded up the rafts and down the river we went. Being August, the water levels were low so we bounced on the bottom a few times, had to avoid overhanging branches and learned how to paddle together. After the scenic Moose Creek, we joined in the Matanuska River and were ready for the white water rapids! Everyone got wet but no one took as much water to the face as Celia! Jane was smart to sit in the back and only got wet when the guide spun us around backwards down the river. There were a few big holes that we went in, but luckily we were able to paddle through and didn't tip the boat. After the larger rapids our guide Jack asked if anyone wanted to "ride the bull." This consisted of sitting on the very front of the raft and holding onto a rope as we went through some smaller rapids. Of course the boys gave it a shot first! Kevin got on and after the second big wave he fell back into the boat. Cole got on next and was able to hang on through his set of rapids. Keely gave it a shot next and fell back into the boat before the first wave even hit! Then as the waves hit she was laying in the bottom of the boat, feet up getting the waves right in the face! She finally made it up and rode a wave, and then it was Celia's turn. Celia also pre-empted her first set of waves falling into the boat before getting the hang of it and riding out the waves. What a great experience! On the float to the end of the trip Jack allowed people to get out and float a bit. Everyone jumped in the icy cold water to float for a bit, luckily Keely and Jane stayed in otherwise getting back in the boat might have been more difficult. As it was, Keely had to pull Celia back into the boat, and then they tag teamed to get Kevin in the boat who was able to get Cole and Dan. We all made it back in one piece! We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day, it was a clear sunny day and it even got into the upper 60s!
After the rafting we grabbed lunch at the Long Rifle Lodge that had amazing views of the Matanuska Glacier from the dining room! Finally, we got in the car to start the 6 1/2 hour drive to Homer. About an hour and a half down the road we wanted to stop to check out the Independence Mine State Park. It was about 25 minutes off the highway, and the drive itself was worth the trip. It was a sunny green valley that wound around a small river. As the car climbed we started to see some of the historic buildings that are still standing from the mining days. We walked around the park for a while, reading about how they used to mine and what the families did that were living there. It sounded like a pretty difficult life, but an exciting one!
Back in the car we continued our drive to Homer. We tried to stop at the Moose's Tooth in Anchorage for dinner, but the place was packed so we kept going figuring we would find something on the way. Along the Turnagain Arm Cole spotted a mountain goat standing on the side of the cliff that bordered the road. A couple of hours later we found the Kingfisher Roadhouse, which had a great salmon special and a beautiful view of Kenai Lake as we ate. After finishing dinner we all moaned a bit when we realized we wouldn't get into Homer until about midnight.
Cole took the late shift of driving and did an amazing job. First we saw some cars pulled over and realized there was a grizzly bear in the stream next to the road - only in Alaska! Once it started getting dark we saw about 12 moose and most of those were actually standing in the road or right next to it! It was pretty scary. We even passed a small moose that had just been hit by a truck just a little bit ahead of us. Luckily, Cole has eagle eyes when it comes to spotting animals by the road, and we were able to avoid them all. We got into Homer and followed the directions up a winding road up the mountain above the town trying to find our house in the dark. Of course it was foggy which made it difficult to see the road as well as the signs, but we finally made it.
Our house is called Stier House. The driveway lights weren't on so we thought we were at a dead end with no house! We finally found the stairs down to the house, and were very happy with how large the house is and that we all have our own rooms on our own level. It's a five bedroom log home on the side of the mountain, with windows and a deck overlooking the Homer Spit. Kevin and Dan started playing ping-pong even before unpacking the car, and it was midnight! Luckily there was nothing planned for Tuesday, so everyone could sleep in!