Saturday, July 06, 2013

Valdez back to Tok!

Yesterday we spent a little time wandering around Valdez. It continued to rain, but Valdez still had their parade and other 4th of July activities. We talked to some people who said this was very typical weather for Valdez and they just plan on it. In addition to being rainy, it was cold, probably only in the low 50's or maybe 40's, but not freezing. But Valdez still has snow on the ground! We found this pile of it in town! We also found this trailer across from us to be interesting. It was obviously home built, but very nicely done. The biggest problem, however, is that with all the rain we had, when they wanted to be in out of the rain, their options were their car, or lying down in their trailer.

We took in a shop or two and then the Valdez museum. We had been to the museum annex where we saw a movie about the 1964 earthquake. Today's main museum was about the history or how the town began as a camp and later as prospectors came, others arrived to offer services, etc. It's so hard to comprehend that people took steamships up to Valdez from Washington, then climbed up over the Valdez Glacier to the Klondike goldfields on the other side. A lot of them didn't make it, but most of those who did found there were no gold claims left. It is an interesting history. There was also a stores called Anne's Sugar and Spice which showed free movies of both the earthquake and the building of the pipeline.

The museum also covered the earthquake in 1964 and the building of the pipeline from 1973-76. I found one fact of the pipeline interesting. They buried the pipeline in some places because they found out that the caribou would not go under it, thereby depriving them of being able to relocate to their wintering grounds. So the pipe was buried so the caribou would be able to traverse the areas they needed to. Other animals were not bothered by the pipeline. We have seen more pipeline on the way down to Valdez because the Richardson Highway, the route to Valdez, is the "Pipeline Highway." All the oil taken from the Prudhoe Bay area goes down the pipeline to the terminal at Valdez.

We also learned that cruise ships, long a boon to the local merchants, can no longer come into the port at Valdez. That occurred due to 9-11. My guess is because they consider the Valdez terminal to be a possible terrorist target. Just my opinion.

Today we drove out of a still rainy Valdez. Before we left, however, we took another look at the salmon fish hatchery. The tide was out and we were treated to a very cool view. Sitting on the stumps out in the mud were EAGLES! There was one on every stump. Some were adults, with their white heads and tails, and others were juveniles which look sort of spotted or mottled. Terry got one picture of several sitting on a spit and counted 3 adults and 3 juveniles.  When we left there we drove  up through the Thompson Pass and up the highway. We passed GlennAllen, where we had come in from Anchorage the other day, and proceeded north. We came to the Tok Cutoff which is the name they call the road that goes from the Richardson to Tok.

We did stop at the Worthington Glacier again. This time we got out and walked down the path a bit. You can hike all the way to the glacier and touch it, but we didn't do that. It looked like some rugged climbing and I couldn't do that. But we got some great pictures of the waterfalls and the blue ice in the crevices. Really cool.

We did see some moose again today, none close to the road. That is good, as I sure don't want to hit one, but it really makes photography difficult. Really have to zoom in and then getting a steady shot is harder.

We had a leisurely drive today because we had some bad road. One section on the Tok Cutoff was built on permafrost and it went back and forth from undulating to potholes, to gravel. It means slowing way down in order to keep everything in the cupboards.

We arrived at Three Bears Outpost about 4:30. We were here a few weeks ago on our way down from Chicken and on the way to Fairbanks. We are the ONLY ones in the park.

Tomorrow we head to Beaver Creek after crossing the border into Canada.

Till next time. . .



Bill said...

Wow, you are leaving Alaska early.

Dale said...

We are passing through Canada to get to Haines, Bill. Then we are ferry hopping down through the inside passage. So we aren't leaving yet.