Final weeks at Renfros

Our co-workers, Bob & Marna, left Renfros the day after we returned from our last full week off trip to Homer.  Gary had planned a goodbye dinner at the lodge on Thursday, so we all gathered at the lodge.  We were sad to know they were leaving, our AK family would no longer be complete!

Minar and Maddy

Gary pulled out the summers lost and found box and let us take anything we wanted from it.  Some stuff was pretty silly (one sock) but some was nice like this jacket Bob snatched

Marna loved modeling this hat!
Marna and Gary assembling our dessert – homemade strawberry shortcake!

We’ve been keeping busy – I’m sure you’ve all seen our post about running gear and changing the shackles – if not – it’s a comprehensive “how to” for taking care of these items!

We’ve also relaxed and visited some local places we hadn’t seen yet.  We headed north toward Anchorage – stopping at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.   It was a beautiful day!

We also finally got to Indian Valley Meats for some reindeer sausage.  Thankfully they have samples!

Next stop was Sam’s Club and Walmart in Anchorage.

view from Anchorage Walmart

On our way to dinner – we got a very special unexpected treat – we saw a bunch of people pulled over on Turnagain Arm, which is not unusual, but it seemed they were very focused on the water so we pulled in to see what they were seeing – BELUGAS!  A whole huge pod of them!  At least 20 – probably more – right near shore!  I started snapping away but they were moving on, so we had to move as well!  Off to the next pull-out!  We stopped 4 times – waiting for them to catch up – it was amazing to watch!  These are the best pics I could get!


no belugas here, but notice the rainbow!

Last, but not least, we went out to dinner! It was the day before our anniversary and Gary recommended a place in Girdwood – Double Musky.  It was highly rated on TripAdvisor also – so we decided to try it! They offered an eclectic menu with a Cajun focus.  For starters we had Scallop and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms that were really good!  Bill ordered the Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya and I had to try the lamb.  Both were fantastic and we brought half of each home!  Dessert was delish as well, Bill devoured his Chocolate whip cream pie thing (can’t remember the name at all!) and I had my fav Creme  Brûlée.  A wonderful meal for sure!  And – bonus – interesting place with all kinds of Mardi Gras memorabilia all over the walls and ceiling.  Thanks Gary for suggesting it!

We’ve also been getting some things done here at Renfros.  Bill has trimmed some trees that were too close to the roof on a few cabins.  Speaking of a roof – he also fixed a leak on one – water was getting in!  He also had to fix (again) a septic tank clean-out b/c someone had hit it with their car.  The biggest project we’ve completed has been adding a pulley system to raise and lower the shade on the upper windows of the lakeside cabins.  The system was redesigned a couple of times before finding a way to get it to work.

As the weeks passed there were other things to do to get ready for Gary to close up for the season.   The last few days were especially busy.   We had all the cabins to clean and ready for the winter.  We also had to call 911 for one of our guests.  They were fine, thankfully.  It’s just a bit complicated because there isn’t any cell service here so one of the guests had to come find Gary (who was out working on the property) so he could go up to the lodge and call.   Then someone has to wait by the road to lead the EMT’s and next the ambulance to the cabin.  We all worked together so we could get the guest the help he needed.

boarding up the windows

draining the water heater tank

insulation to keep the cold out

We met a full-time wanna-be couple, Leslie and Matt from Anchorage.  We enjoyed campfires with them and shared our story of how we came to be living and traveling full-time in our RV.  One night they made yummy deserts!

Gary’s neighbors, Bonnie & Steve, own the local homemade fudge shop, Moose Drop, in Moose Pass.  We’ve been waiting til we were getting ready to leave to go visit them there and get some fudge.  It was worth the wait – and it’s probably good we waited – their fudge could be addictive!

We also made our way over to Soldotna and Kenai one day.  We wanted to say goodbye to Mary & Rollie (friends we met through RVillage) before heading out.  We met at St. Elias Brewery for lunch! We had all heard it was good – and the reviews were right!  We had pizza and Bill of course had beer! He liked it ok, but he and Mary also wanted to try another recommended place, Kassiks.  Friends of ours, Jim & Barb, visited a lot of breweries on their trip up here this past summer and Kassiks was their fav, so it was on the top of Bills list.  Turns out it was one of his fav’s also and he filled both growlers before we pulled out of the driveway.

interesting decor at St Elias

more St Elias

Bill chatting with the owner of Kassiks

The weather has certainly changed quite a bit over the last few weeks, since we’ve been back from Homer.  It’s getting very cold at night (in the 30’s) and we have not seen above 56 during the day for the past 2 weeks or so.  BRRRR!  Leaves on the birch and cottonwood trees have are yellow and are falling off at an alarming rate!  Earlier in the month, we woke to see snow on the mountain tops across the street!  Gary called it termination dust – the termination of hope for warmer temps!  It has proven true!  That first dusting of snow was gone within 24 hours.  Since then it has snowed a few more times and I believe it’s here to stay! It has not snowed down here YET and we are hoping that it doesn’t until we are on our way out!

Termination dust – this as taken Sept 8


this was taken 9/27

Our time here at Renfros Lakeside Retreat has been so wonderful!  We have loved every minute of it!  Gary is a great guy, very sincere and genuine, and has been awesome to work for. I would not hesitate to recommend working for him.  He is already on the hunt for 2017 Workampers!   We have grown to love this place and Gary along with it.  He has created this place that allows one to enjoy all the peacefulness and beauty of the mountains and Kenai Lake, and I’d say 90% or more of his reviews mention what an awesome host he is.  When we accepted his offer to work here – we didn’t know what to expect – but expectations were high!  They were met and more!  How often does one get to say that?!  Sadly, not very in my experience.   This summer will be hard to beat.

where else can you see a moose on the way to the recycling center?

Well, its official, we pulled out of Renfro’s Lakeside Retreat today, a little past 2pm.  We weren’t in a hurry to leave b/c we were only going about 130 miles, to Fred Meyer in Eagle River.  We’ve stayed here before, and wanted to get a few items before the LONG trek out!  We’ve said our goodbyes and exchanged hugs all around.  After getting in the truck, there was no stopping the tears.  We will have to return someday to our Alaskan home at Renfros!  Gary – thanks for everything – we love you and will miss you!


17 thoughts on “Final weeks at Renfros

  1. What a great summer you guys had and to top it all off by seeing those Belugas! Glad you liked Kassik’s. I would have loved to see the look on your faces as you pulled up as it does not look like any other brewery that we visited this summer. Safe travels, hope to see you down the road!

    1. We did have a great summer! We did wonder where the heck we were going on our way to Kassiks – to pull in and be like “this BETTER be it!” I’m sure our paths will cross again!

  2. Isn’t it funny how the weather flipped like someone hit a light switch? Same thing happened by us. Safe travels south…again, so glad you have new shackles to ride back on. Looks like you had a great summer, Kelly and Bill! 😀

    1. It was crazy! What takes 2 – 3 months in PA – was only 3 weeks in Seward! Bill definitely feels safer with the new shackles – and so do I!

  3. I’m so happy everything worked out for you at Renfros, it’s a great place and I’m glad we got to visit you there. Be safe on your way south, can’t wait to hear how you like Haines in the fall.

  4. Wow you guys kept busy. That’s a lot of to pack in. Very cool about the whale sighting . Have a safe journey coming down. So glad bill got to did into some projects!!

    1. Thanks Tracy! We were very busy! Bill preferred the projects for sure! Gary was so excited to have help closing up, as the last 2 years he didn’t! It was awesome seeing the whales!

  5. Glad the belugas cooperated for you! And glad you had time for us before you left! By the way, it was 60 and sunny today! But the nights have been getting colder, heavy frost the last 3 mornings at our place. They turned off the water and we turned on the furnace finally. A week fromMonday we move to the apartment.

    1. It was FREEZING in Eagle River and then again in Tok, not as bad here in Haines. We had frost in Seward for 2 days before we left! Good luck with your winter in AK! Keep in touch!

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