Thursday morning (August 19th) brought another day of beautiful sunshine! I was up and on my way to Anchorage a little after seven o'clock. While I was still in Seward on Tuesday the “Malfunction Indicator Light” in the van had come on. The owner's manual says it is part of the onboard diagnostic system that monitors engine and automatic transmission control systems. It further stated that certain conditions such as a loose or missing gas cap or poor fuel quality could illuminate the light and that the vehicle should be serviced if the light stays on after several typical driving cycles. What is a typical driving cycle? I removed the gas cap and put it back on in case it had been loose, but that didn't help.
Well, the light came on every time I started the engine, irritatingly beeping at me each time as a reminder. Not that I needed a reminder with that silly light staring me in the face! So, along with an oil change, which was past due, I needed to get this Indicator Light checked out. I had located a Dodge dealer in Anchorage, via the internet, and got there without any problems. It took them a while to get me checked in (the young man definitely was not computer savvy) and then it was another four hour wait.
Turns out that the malfunction code had something to do with the emissions system and the people that do the oil changes (quick maintenance, they called it) don't work on that stuff so I had to go talk to another fellow. He seemed to know what he was talking about. He said that they could charge me $100 to run diagnostic tests or I could simply get a new gas cap! Apparently, Dodge Vans have a problem with gas caps... so for $26 the gas cap was replaced and they cleared the code. The indicator light hasn't come back on so I'm hopeful that the problem has been solved.
It was rather frustrating to wait there for nearly five hours with such a beautiful day outside. I drove through Anchorage just to get a feel for the place. There was a lot of road construction going on but it was still relatively easy to get around. I found my way to Earthquake Park, an area set aside to commemorate the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake which devastated southern Alaska. On clear days it offers views of the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet and Mount McKinley, only 200 miles away. On this day McKinley was visible, but just barely. It was rather ghostly looking and melted into the sky.
At Earthquake Park I connected with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which is a paved bicycle and walking path that meanders along the coastline. I followed it for a couple of miles, nearly getting run down by several cyclists, but the weather was beautiful as were the views that I could see through the trees.
Expansive views of Cook Inlet were not to be seen since much of the trail that I walked was tree lined on both sides. It was just nice to be outside with no rain! Anchorage has an extensive park and trail system (120 miles of trails) as well as many other attractions and activities, but I was being lazy and didn't do much of anything.
I hadn't yet made up my mind as to where I would go next so I returned to the campground at Bird Creek, 25 miles southeast of Anchorage. It is a lovely drive along Turnagain Arm and the paved trails in that area offer some nice views.