On Thursday, July 7, we left Chicken, AK at 9:15; Acey has 88,353.9 miles and Thor 104,596 miles. We have a relatively short drive to the end of the Top of The World Highway (State Hwy 5), which Jim says is more of a path than a highway – lots of gravel and dust – and narrow at places, rarely are there guardrails even with steep drop-offs along the way! Our destination today is Tok, AK.
As we got on the highway in Chicken, there were several rather wide cracks in the asphalt, unlike anything we had seen before! The ones in the photo are small in comparison.
And soon, the road was gravel again. In Canada and Alaska, the highway maintenance folks put orange flags along the side of the road to alert drivers to bad road conditions – potholes. bumps, etc. But they don’t warn of ALL bad conditions!
The road continued to alternate between sections of asphalt and gravel.
The beautiful scenery continued on and on!
Hwy 5 ended at last! We turned on to AK-2 and then GPS told us to turn on AK-1, locally known as the Tok Cutoff, (taking us 10 miles out of the way). When the GPS said we had arrived – alas – no campground! We had cell phone service, so we tried apple Maps and Waze – they could not find Tundra RV Park – so we turned back to Route 2 after consulting the maps that our caravan folks provided and found our spot for the night. We arrived at 1pm, got set up, made lunch, and got 2 loads of laundry done and Linda worked on the blog. Our group went out to dinner at Fast Eddy’s. Linda was able to get internet from her phone to finish the last blog and got it posted in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Friday morning, we left Tok at 8am with Acey’s mileage at 88,459.2 and Thor’s at 104,623. We headed down AK-1, on purpose this morning, on our way to Valdez!
Bob and Joyce were behind us and took this photo of Acey heading down the road!!
A moose was on the road in front of us!
As we drove along, Jim said – this is the kind of stuff you don’t see on a cruise ship!
The road had been paved up to this point, with some frost heaves, potholes and cracks, but now we have some gravel again. We are following a fellow caravanner…
This is probably Mount Blackburn — at 16,404, it is the highest peak in Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains and the 5th highest peak in the United States – 12th in North America.
We saw more bicyclers today
Around 11:30 we passed 10 bicyclists – guessing they are travelling together – similar jerseys on a few of them and there was a “sag wagon” carrying their gear.
Welcome to Valdez!
We drove through Keystone Canyon
Bridal Veil Falls
We arrived at Eagle’s Rest RV Park and Cabins in Valdez at 1:30 – we have full hookups here with 50 amp service! our 11 RV units were all parked in a line together.
After lunch, we did some cleaning. Our son had sent a package to us at this park, so we got some mail to go through, more laundry (we can’t wash very much in a load!) Jim had a few jobs to do with parts Chris sent him, Linda worked on the blog. In the afternoon, we went to Valdez Brewery with Kim and Lee and we each got a flight to try several beers on tap.
We walked over to have dinner at the Nat Shack – we both had a gyro crunch wrap which was delicious!
After dinner, we walked across the street to see the marina.
We had to get a photo of this boat – Linda’s sister’s nickname is Lulu!
We looked for the boat our group is to go out on Sunday. Stan Stephens operates 2 boats; we went on the Valdez Spirit.
We had a free day on Saturday and visited 2 museums in Valdez.
Gold rushers were the impetus for the birth of Valdez
Both museums had some fire engines on display
Ever seen skis on an airplane?!
We saw a North Pacific Fur Fish!
Two major events happened here in Valdez – the earthquake of March 27, 1964, the largest ever recorded in North America, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 24. 1989; the largest tanker spill to date
One museum was filled with models of Old Town Valdez as it would have appeared in the summer of 1963. They were interesting to look at, but hard to photograph…
More on Oil in Valdez – the pipeline!
this is what the pipeline looks like – sort of – it is 48” in diameter and has an insulating jacket around it. You can read more about the pipeline here!
The first barrel of oil to Valdez was celebrated July 29, 1977
But maybe that wasn’t THE first barrel!
The Exxon Valdez Oil spill happened in Prince William Sound on March 24. 1989 – the museum had some info about it, but the earthquake and other things were covered in more detail.
After visiting the museums, we went to the Old Town site – where Valdez was located before the 1964 earthquake – many of the roads are there, but the area is completely abandoned. The “new town” is located 4 miles to the west.
Several signs indicated what had been there – here are two
This is what remains of the docks that were bustling with activity at one time
Our group had dinner at the diner in front of the RV Park.
On Sunday morning, we got up early and had the opportunity to Zoom with our Sunday School Class – at 6:30am Alaska time! We are studying the book of Acts and the early Christian church.
Then we met our group and went on a cruise in Prince William Sound to see Meares Glacier and wildlife along the way! It looks like a beautiful day to go for a boat ride. We saw some fishing boats anchored along the shore.
The mountains are stunning!
Look closely – The Trans Alaska pipeline ends here in Prince William Sound at Valdez and many storage tanks are here to hold the oil until it is shipped out.
This might be the Shoup Glacier sitting up in the mountain
A few pretty waterfalls cascading down the mountains
A bald eagle spotted! Their white heads make a good contrast in the green trees; fairly easy to spot!
And in the water were some Pigeon Guillemots swimming along
In the mountains above us is the Anderson Glacier and Anderson Falls streaming down from the glacier.
As we cruised on, the sun created a rainbow in the mist!
There had been thoughts of blasting this rocky island, but a channel marker was put atop instead.
Some sea lions like to hang out here
Zooming in, we can see there are seagulls and a bigger black bird.
The Zoom lens comes in quite handy when you spot a bald eagle perched atop a pine tree!
an ice monster?
Mama sea otters float on their back with their kids on their belly!
We came to the end of the Unakwit Inlet and got our first glimpse of Meares Glacier!
The one end of the glacier is advancing, as it is knocking over trees.
The other end is receding, evidenced by the rock left behind.
As we approached the face of the glacier, there was a lot of loose ice floating!
There were baby seals swimming around and sitting on the ice pieces
These harbor seals were a little bigger
We enjoyed our visit to Meares Glacier!!
Stellar Sea lions lazing on the rocky beach – there must have been 100’s of them! We could hear them barking – they love to “talk”!
A couple of Humpback whales spotted! We saw them blow and the camera caught parts of them! This is typical of the photos we get when we have been whale watching; just the “hump” of the humpback.
But not so typical, we caught an arch and then a tail! (Good job on the zoom again Jim!)
Porpoises came alongside the bow to swim and play in the wake of our boat – we have seen this before in Florida and the Caribbean, but these are Dall’s Porpoises and are a bit larger than the ones we saw in the warmer waters! Swim and dive – repeat!
The captain did a great job telling us about what we were seeing – and the crew kept us fed with a late morning snack and a tasty hot lunch!
We enjoyed our cruise in Prince William Sound!
We had not taken the opportunity to see the fish hatchery, and it is open for visitors pretty much 24 hours, unless there is a bear on the walkway! Lee and Kimberly were with us, and they had not seen it either.
The weir on Solomon Creek was the first thing we came upon
There is a bit of a jetty beyond the weir – there were tons of fish in the water that were not photogenic…
A sea lion was busy fishing and sharing his catch unwittingly with the sea gulls. It was fun to watch!
The fish ladder was not running, and buildings were not open, but we enjoyed our visit. You can learn more about the hatchery here.
We had a salad for dinner and Linda worked on the blog. Since the sun doesn’t set till after 11, Jim washed both Acey and Thor; they were both BADLY in need of a good bath, and this campground allowed washing of vehicles.
Tomorrow, we move on to Palmer, then Soldotna, Homer, Seward and then Anchorage!