A sign welcomes travelers to the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign welcomes travelers to the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: From Anchorage to Soldotna for the 1st time

Beauty overwhelms on initial drive

The decision to move to Alaska was an impulsive one. Nearly fresh out of college, I accepted with no hesitation an exciting job just over 3,800 miles away from my family. It’s how I found myself making the beautiful drive to Soldotna from Anchorage last week.

Alaska is an impressive place. This probably isn’t news to folks who live here, but it’s what I was thinking in all caps when I rounded the first bend on the Seward Highway outside of Anchorage.

I’d been naively marveling at the cluster of mountainside homes on the edge of the city when the frame of my windshield filled suddenly with the imposing stature of cloud-cloaked mountains. Like dominoes, one peak followed another, which followed another into what seemed like oblivion.

I looked around my empty car excitedly to see if my nonexistent passengers were beholding the same beauty as I. My cat meowed from her carrier.

After several well-intentioned, but blurry, photos taken through my window, I pulled into one of the turnoffs conveniently designated by blue signs with camera icons on them to stop and take everything in.

I realized I was in a very different kind of place. I realized I was a guest on a positively primordial piece of earth that was home to people, cultures and traditions whose roots ran deeper in this land than those of the trees sprouting out of Beluga Point. I FaceTimed my parents and was disappointed at how spectacularly my iPhone dwarfed the scene before me.

Pulling back onto the two-lane Seward Highway, I followed bumbling campers and trucks loaded down with kayaks and mountain bikes slowly along the northern outline of Turnagain Arm before dropping down to the Kenai Peninsula.

I stopped to take a picture of the wooden “Welcome to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula” sign, while chilly rain pattered against the trees behind me. I was glad I’d brought my rain jacket.

Continuing toward my destination, I drove parallel to rushing rivers that were turquoise and turbulent, past carefully carved wooden signs advertising fishing trips, lake view lodges and wildlife viewing. I was struck by the irony in embracing a place that, though new to me, was as old as the planet itself; that had existed for lifetimes before me and that would exist for lifetimes after me. How humbling!

Never once during my drive was it lost on me how lucky I was to call this place home for the time being.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in Sports

Kenai volleyball sweeps Nikiski

Kards still haven’t lost a game in a 5-set match

Kenai, SoHi runners split up borough honors

Championships require overcoming adversity

Kenai volleyball sweeps Soldotna

Kards prevail on SoHi’s home floor

Kenai Central’s Tucker Vann is congratulated by Soldotna’s Brayden Taylor after scoring a touchdown Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, at Ed Hollier Field at Kenai Central High School. Soldotna won 58-14, but Vann explained after the game he’s knows many Soldotna players through Pop Warner football. "We’re buddies whether we’re rivals or not," Vann said. "They take care of me and I take care of them." (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai-Soldotna football games canceled

Kards pull out due to non-COVID illnesses

Kenai River Brown Bears defenseman Ryan Reid battles Ignat Belov of the Maine Nordiques for the puck Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
NAHL releases schedule

Brown Bears plan to return in January

Runners dash from the start of the 5-kilometer race Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at the Kenai River Marathon. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River Marathon set for Sunday

Race makes changes to mitigate coronavirus

Refuge Notebook: New trail makes Ski Hill safer

Path welcomes all nonmotorized user groups

The Kenai River curls to Skilak Lake, as seen from the Hideout Trail on July 5, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Burn it all down

The plastic paradox and rockwork on Skyline Trail

Homer netters top SoHi

Mariners rebound from Friday loss

Most Read