Roaming Through Retirement



Valdez 2022

Valdez--Beautiful and COOL!

Beings as we have been snowbirds for the past 15 years, we have lived in temps ranging from the 60s to the 90s. So, with temps hovering in the 50s and overcast skies, we had to pull out our winter gear.  Surprisingly, we adapted to the cooler weather easier than we thought.  We divided our trip into six destinations starting with Valdez and ending in Fairbanks. Links to the other five destinations are provided at the bottom of this page.

July 2022
Valdez 2022
Once we crossed into Alaska, we spent a couple days in Tok, to finalize our trip planning. Alaska is home to eight national parks that equal the size of Wisconsin. However, only three are accessible by car.  From Tok, we headed south and drove along the western edge of the Wrangler/St Elias National Park, America's largest national park, six times that of Yellowstone. The two dirt roads were designed for high clearance vehicles, which ours is not.  
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
Nearby wildfires, kept us from capturing Mt St Elias, America's second largest mountain, nor Mt Wrangler one of the largest caldera volcano's in the country. This caldera, like a crater, has a glacier instead of water about 3 miles in diameter.   The visitors Center had this 'fish wheel' used in shallow rivers to catch salmon.  The current turns the paddles and drops the fish in holding tanks. 
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
The drive to Valdez is designate as a scenic highway and one of  the most spectacular road we had ever driven. Hundreds of waterfalls took melting snow and rainfall down to rushing creeks and streams.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
Jagged mountain tops.  As well as glacier lined mountain tops.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
An incomplete railway tunnel to nowhere. Keystone Canyon boxed in this scenic highway for three miles.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
With stunning views of Bridal and Horsetail Falls. And for the next three days, it rained. 
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
Valdez has about 3,800 people, supporting tourism, the Trans Alaskan Oil-Pipeline Terminal and is one of nine principle seaports in Alaska.  This charter boat doubles for church on Sunday mornings, which leaves port at 8:00 am and returns a hour later.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
We got a front row seat, largely because there were only five church goers that morning! The rain and fog were so thick, we couldn't see the shoreline. After church, we suited up in layers and rain gear and hiked some nearby trails.  We were not willing to let the rain stop us from enjoying our excursion.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
Solomon Gulch Creek, one of many creeks that run into the Port of Valdez, is home to a salmon fish hatchery, that yields 15.8 million pink and 83,000 Coho salmon each year.  This sea lion, and other harbor seals and commercial and private fisherman were having a field day as these salmon came home to spawn. 
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
Valdez was one of the hardest hit communities during the 1964 Good Friday earthquake.  At 9.2, it was the second worst earthquake on record.  Of the 131 casualties, thirty-two were from Valdez. The quake and tsunami that followed did so much damage to Valdez, that the entire community was moved four miles west.  Buildings not moved were burnt or demolished.  This plaque is all that remains.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
This port near Valdez is the terminal to the Trans-Alaskan oil-pipeline that stores and transports about 1.8 million barrels of oil per day from the Prudhoe Bay about 800 miles to the north.  In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground and dumped 11 million gallons causing the second largest oil-spill in U.S. history affecting 1,300  miles of coastline and 11,000 square miles of ocean and killing countless sea life and wildlife.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
We took a day cruise to see the Columbia Glacier on this double decker tour boat.  Our captain, filled us in  with facts and cool stories along the way. We left from the Valdez harbor, which is loaded with private and commercial fishing boats.  We were told that one processing plant ships 1.5 million pounds of fish each day.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
This is another picture of the Valdez oil terminal.  The oil cleanup took years, but what we saw was awe inspiring.  Although, we were told that oil still remains in the ground.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
This mountain has dozens of waterfalls. These fishing boats are docked and waiting for tomorrow, as one day per week, they are not allowed to fish.  Our captain told us that a storm they had the day before, took a toll on these sea lions and that is why they were all resting on shore.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
This iceberg is a calve from the Columbia Glacier. It is said to be the size of our boat, about 90' long and that we can only see the top 10 percent of the iceberg, meaning that the remaining 90 percent resides under the water. At this point we are about a mile from the Columbia Glacier, said to be the fastest retreating glacier in the world, having retreated 12 miles since 1980. To put this video in perspective, the wall of the glacier is about 400 feet tall.

 
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
Alaskan Sea Otters can grow up to five feet long and weigh as much as 100 pounds.  Their fur is thick, about one million hairs per square inch. Russian and American hunters are said to have captured up to 300,000 sea otters for fur pelts, leaving them nearly extinct and they still remain on the list of endangered species.

With its vast expanse, Alaska is home to the largest concentration of black bears, estimated to be over 100,000. We spotted a few from the roadside, one with a baby cub following its mom.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
With Valdez's unfortunate history, city leaders are committed to showcasing its past with three museums with artifact such as this 1886 hand pump fire engine.  One museum is dedicated to both Indigenous art and crafts made from the trappings of furry creatures for their meat, plus material to keep out the bitter cold.
Valdez 2022
Valdez 2022
The creativity and craftsmanship that went into all these products were awesome.  Six day later, we boarded this ferry for a five-hour cruise to Whittier, on the northeastern part of the Kenai Peninsula.


Map
Map
Map
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Map
Seward
Homer
Anchorage
Denali
Fairbanks




Valdez's web page includes July 16 through July 20.