June 28 – Valdez, Alaska

Wow! Wow! Wow! The scenery along the road is fantastic. Mountain after mountain, peak after peak, tree after tree – you get the point –

I really did enjoy the drive and it wasn’t too rough – the road that is. It still had it bumps and heaves but not as intense as other roads in Alaska.

We did stop at the Worthington Glacier and hiked as far as could – we could go further but we weren’t prepared for an intense hike.

Had some construction in the Thompson Pass – elevation 2678.

Notice the poles on the edge of the road to mark where to plow – they are 20 feet tall.

Then we stopped at the Bridal Veil Falls and Horse Tail Falls in Keystone Canyon – beautiful!

Arrived at Eagle’s Rest RV Park after lunch. Noticed a “Caravan parking” sign and knew that one of the Alaska tour groups was in town – yes about 20 Newmar Coaches in the campground.DSC_0091

Huge park with gravel roads and level sites with full hookups and cable TV – finally get to see the news.

Bike trail adjacent to park waiting for me.

Valdez is such a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains and sitting on the Prince William Sound.

Did the visitor’s center and then explored the harbor. Lots of small boats – Did see Marmots – see my Rocky Mountain blog last year about this creature.

This is the farthest Alaskan north port that doesn’t freeze over.

Walked a trail along the duck ponds.

Thursday is 50 and drizzle. No bike ride.

We ventured out to do Museum investigations – every northern town has a museum – and sometimes they are beginning to look alike. But what else do you do on a drizzly day.

Did see Peter Toth Indian Carving.

First museum was the Valdez Museum – had a fee – but it was a good modern museum with two movies. Watched the Earthquake of 1964 and Recovery and one on the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill of 1989.

Second museum was the Old Valdez museum which told the story of the town before and after it had to relocate (4 miles west) due to unstable ground after the earthquake – see above. No damage from the earthquake or the Tsunami it created.

Finally ended with the Maxine and Jessie Whitney Museum. She had a gift shop and collected native items and sold them as souvenirs to the tourists. It was amazing the stuff she collected – now much of it is illegal to collect – ivory, arrowheads etc.

Still drizzly out.

Friday still raining but lightly. Not too motivated to ride bike – I did tell you there is a bike path right out our door. I think Valdez is a lot like Seattle – rain rain rain.DSC_0003

Finally we took off for a trip to the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery. Too early for the salmon to be spawning this area but it was interesting to see the building and self-guided tour.

Did get to see the Alyeska Oil Marine Depot. Couldn’t get too close as it was a restricted area.DSC_0021 (2)

Then visited the Old Town Valdez. It was muddy so we didn’t walk around too much.

Went up to the Valdez Glacier and the lake.

Back to the Harbor and walked along the boardwalk and visited stores.

Did buy some canned salmon from Peter Pan Seafood – yes that’s the name. Mixed with whipped cream cheese and crackers and scarfed it down.

Saturday drizzling again and 50 degrees. It slowed up and I really needed to get out on the bike. Rode about 5 miles and the rain was coming down harder so headed home.

I did see a mother black bear and cub which crossed right in front of me on the trail – I slowed but not enough time for a pic.

Brenda walked the same trail and she was warned by a passing motorist that there were bears ahead and she shouldn’t proceed – she did turn around even though she is armed with Bear Spray now.

Sunday is 50 again and drizzling – kind of stuck in a rainy pattern. It seems like it rains in the morning and afternoon is just overcast.

We did head out for a hike or two this afternoon.

First one on the Mineral Creek Trail was along the Mineral Creek and the other side was the back of residential houses. Did it for a while and returned to the car.

Second one was on the Shoup Trail up to the Shoup Glacier – did I tell you there are a lot of glaciers in the area. The trail got pretty muddy and we returned. There was also the warning sign about bears and it was a little scary as the trail was not too wide and I kept waiting for a bear to jump out.

Third trail a little bit more successful – the Homestead Trail along the Mineral Creek. It was wide and gravelly and we ended up arriving at the Prince William Sound – wow! Let the dogs loose and they went wild running the shoreline.

We did see a couple of eagles waiting for their dinner.

Monday is our glacier trip. We signed up earlier with Lu-Lu Belle as recommended by another camper. Shuttle picked us up at the campground and we were delivered to the boat in the harbor.

Smaller group going because of the rainy and cooler weather.

Captain Fred was quite the story teller – 8 hours and he never stopped with his stories – it was very enlightening, entertaining and educational. Every aspect of Valdez and the Prince William Sound he had stories and information.

He even accommodated a woman who wanted to scatter her husband’s ashes in the Sound as he had been a crab fisherman in this area for 40 years.

What was especially good was the fact he took his time and made sure we got to see what we came to see – wildlife and the Columbia Glacier.

Saw some sea otters.

Saw waterfalls and mountains

Saw a commercial fishing vessel transferring its load to another ship by sucking the Salmon out of the net.

Saw more sea otters on an iceberg.

Saw lots of sea lions.

Saw puffins. He even went into a cave to look for them.

Saw an eagle or two.

Saw icebergs.

Saw the Columbia Glacier. Air temp was 32 degrees.

This glacier is 250 feet tall.

DSC_0595Saw the glacier calve – large chunk of the glacier fall off and come crashing into the water.

Saw another commercial fishing boat pull in their loot.

And we returned without incident. But we did not see any whales.

Tuesday we celebrate the 4th of July and Brenda entered the Uncle Salmon 5K run (she will probably walk) in Valdez. She finished in less than one hour.

No public fireworks and it doesn’t get dark until almost midnight. Anchorage is having fireworks at midnight.

They did have a parade and other activities but Brenda was napping so we didn’t go.

We did attend the “free” community picnic and had supper – burgers and stuff. They also had a blues band that was playing. Good time.

Saw Uncle Salmon.IMG_3388

Did you know that Valdez has no sales tax? I guess oil does pay off.

Wednesday is heading toward the Kenai Peninsula.

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