Thursday, August 8, 2013

Valdez, Alaska

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(Chuck & Jan) Saturday was our day to leave Anchorage and drive to Glennallen and then south to Valdez. With it’s breath taking views and vistas on Highway A4, especially the last 30 miles, the bumpy road could be tolerated. The numerous waterfalls in the mountains along the way were absolutely thrilling. Add to that several glaciers, Thompson Pass and T? Canyon and it was really one of the prettier drives we’ve 010taken in Alaska.

We arrived in Valdez on a gloomy, rainy Saturday afternoon and parked our RV at the Elks Club. We were definitely in the right place at the right time, though.  Valdez was celebrating Gold Rush Days and on Sunday we got in on a really cool parade, a free fish fry dinner along the waterfront and boat races on the pond.  They even had Elvis singing for entertainment during the Fish Fry! Valdez is a working town with many young families; there were kids everywhere! It was so much fun to be a part of.

075Boat races!
054Parades + Candy = Kids! 063Elvis!
092In 1964, the epicenter of the 9.2 Earthquake that stuck Alaska, was just 12.4 miles north of the Prince William Sound. Valdez has an excellent museum that tells the story. We were also able to drive out to the original town site where 30 people lost their lives when the city docks sunk as the soil liquefied beneath them and slid into the bay. Valdez, founded in 1898 by gold seekers, was situated right on the beach between the water and the toe of the glacier simply because it was the shortest route up the glacier to the gold fields. Most of the town remained standing but was damaged by the tsunami waves washing in that were caused by the collapse. The Corp of Engineers found a stable site just 4 miles away and 2 years later the entire community of Valdez was moved. The picture of Chuck with a grounded barge was taken at the Old Valdez site. 026

Valdez is the terminus for the Alaska pipeline and it’s tanker loading facilities are situated across the bay from the town of Valdez. The terminus is closed to the public. We were able to catch sight of the Pipeline several times on our way here.

003 - CopyWe were in Valdes in time for the return of the Pink or Humpy Salmon. The pink salmon are not highly prized by the sports fisherman but are a mainstay for the commercial fisheries. Most of the Pink salmon is canned. The stream was thick with Pinks along the creek bed as they 010were returning to the hatchery waters. Click on the photo at left to enlarge.

Our drive out of Valdez on Monday was delightful. We again got to go up over Thompson pass and see all of the waterfalls & glaciers. The northern section of Highway 4A runs along the western edge of Wrangell-St. Elias NP and Preserve. The park system encompasses 22.9 million acres of wild lands and wilderness, the second highest peak in the U.S., Mt. Elias, 18,029 feet along with the greatest collection of glaciers and largest collection mountain peaks over 16,000 feet. But there are very few roads in the park. We were able to stop at the Visitors Center to see the exhibits and watch a film about this colossal park.

Our drive that evening ended in Tok, our last night in the amazing state of Alaska.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

You are so right about the trip to Valdez, beautiful! Thanks for the memories. Enjoy!

 
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