Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cooper Landing Revisited--2014

Every summer I look for an excuse to head to Cooper Landing for a vacation. There are just so many trails to hike within 20 minutes of town. Earlier this week Douglas and I took a 3-day anniversary trip there and packed lots into our time. Since businesses change I thought I would give an update on some of the places we checked out a couple summer's ago.

Gwin's Lodging

Cute little cabin we stayed at--Gwin's Lodging

Two years ago Gwin's seemed like a dying business, but the store was remodeled with bright lighting, new doors and tile floor so didn't feel like a dungeon. The Gwin's Roadhouse restaurant was doing brisk business for breakfast, lunch and dinner (Though I will admit I will never go there again for breakfast. My breakfast burrito was mushy, the coffee, for $2.95, was watery, and Doug's apple juice, which they charged $4.95 for, was watery as well. That meal was the biggest disappointment of our 3 days.), partly because the internet routers were located there for wifi. 

Cozy is the word, and while the paneling dates this, the bed was comfortable and the shower was hot (albeit short!)
The price of the cabin was probably about right--$140. They had what seemed like 15 or 20 cabins for rent of various sizes and types, with the price ranging to $200/night. They advertise the wifi, but I think that is deceptive. We could not access the internet from the cabin, and access from the store was spotty and from the restaurant it was just slow. I am taking an online class and was supposed to get on and check it, but gave up. If it had been essential I would have driven to Wildman's and used their wifi.


Speaking of Wildman's, they have taken the little museum/chamber building out of their parking lot and added a casual dining room addition. This places gets crazy-busy, even without a gas station. It is comfortable, they have a decent convenience store food selection, but they also have the coffees, ice cream, basic quick hot food and also boxed lunches to go. This is still our favorite place to stop when going through.

Grizzly Ridge

This used to be Hamilton's, and is the only gas station in Cooper Landing. We saw it had a new name and owner so had to check it out. The restroom is new which is a great improvement, and the rest of the store seemed pretty much the same. It is a cramped space and it hasn't been fully developed yet so it is a work in progress. They do have ice cream, and they stay open till 10 p.m., which is a bonus.

Kingfisher Roadhouse

Looking out the window to the outdoor seating section (aka, smoking section)

The decor keeps me looking around the Kingfisher
For our anniversary dinner we opted to go to the Kingfisher Roadhouse, which doesn't look like much from the outside but has a sweet decor inside that I thoroughly enjoy. We looked online and a site said it opened at 4:30, but when we got there the hours on the door said 5:00. We'd had an early lunch and were hungry but had to wait till they opened. The food there is very good, though it seems overpriced. On the other hand, to keep fresh ingredients in a place 1 hour from Soldotna and 2 hours from Anchorage would require some coordination. For a special occasion, it is worth it.

Cooper Landing Museum

 We've driven by the Cooper Landing Museum before and I don't know if I've ever seen it open before, but we had time as we were driving by and I'm glad we stopped. A local was manning the museum and he knew some folks from Homer. A Homer school teacher, Sheryl Sotelo, helped Cooper Landing kids reconstruct the skeleton of a bear, which is displayed in the museum. There had just been an article about her in the Homer Tribune a few days before we left and Sheryl had mentioned helping the kids reconstruct that bear had been a fun highlight in her educational career. I would not have even known about the Homer connection with that skeleton if I hadn't just read that article.

An interesting mix of things in the Cooper Landing Museum (open 10-2 daily in the summer)

The old post office and store is filled with clothing, quilts, photo albums, and other relics of the community. Just behind the store is where, supposedly, a bridge once spanned the Kenai River

This is the old post office and Cooper Landing store with a WW II relic in the foreground

A huge section of tree from Montague Island with a commentary on the history of how it got here

History of a tree slab

Summit Lake Lodge

While Summit Lake Lodge is not part of Cooper Landing, it is only 10 minutes up the road and it has a nice restaurant that we enjoy, so we drove up there for dinner. The grounds of Summit Lake Lodge are beautiful and I just want to soak them up. They have cabins there as well, which I'm sure we will check out someday.

Hope Turnoff Bike Path

And just 10 minutes or so past the Summit Lake Lodge is the 7-mile paved Hope Turnoff bike path. Apparently climbing Slaughter Ridge wasn't enough for us so we went for an after dinner 14-mile bike ride as well. This time we were prepared mentally that it was mostly uphill going out and would be downhill coming back, but that was balanced by the wind, which was on our backs going out. It was great having no traffic on a bike path and being able to bike side by side and chat.

Besides our sightseeing, we also went on 3 hikes in the Cooper Landing area, which I will write about in a separate blog post.

I still love Cooper Landing and haven't gotten enough of it. Most folks converge on it for the fishing on the Kenai or Russian Rivers, but we are completely indifferent to fishing and are there for the hiking.

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