After pretty much getting skunked fishing at the Copper River we were eager to get to Valdez where we'd have a chance to do other "Alaska" stuff...like hike to a glacier, watch the salmon return to the fishery they were born at, fish for said salmon and cruise the Prince William Sound. Our little threesome of RVs traveled down the Richardson Highway and made an overnight pit stop in the Keystone Canyon so we'd have better access to explore a few areas before getting to Valdez.
|There's something a little WOW about eating your lunch in front of a glacier as it calves...|
A particularly awesome side trip was to the Worthington Glacier. Although we'd seen quite a few glaciers by now they were all off in the distance. At Worthington Glacier you can not only hike to the glacier, but you can touch it...and taste it...if you want. And we did want! It was such a nice hike out that I actually returned the next morning with Nellie so she could touch a glacier too. Unfortunately, she was not as thrilled as I was about getting close to it but she did like drinking the glacial waters. Note: There's RV parking available if you want to stop for a short visit to the glacier (no overnighting here) and there's also an ADA path that's wheelchair compatible. Dogs are also allowed to accompany you so it's a great place to take a break!
|From left to right: The Learning Banks (Beth and Taylor), Gone With the Wynns (Nikki and Jason) and Tales From the Mutiny (Lynn and Clark). Milepost V 15.|
|The gang at the foot of Worthington Glacier.|
|Nellie has her "weird ears" on...she did not like being this close to the glacier (but she did like drinking from it)|
We also hiked the Old Goat Trail that runs above Horsetail Falls...and got rained on in the process. But the forest is so dense here, it's really like a rain forest, that we didn't mind it much. Plus, we got a pretty cool view of our rigs parked way below us at one of the turnouts where we overnighted (but my photos didn't turn out...but I'll post a bad one anyway).
|Sorry guys...I was trying to learn a who new camera set up after my battery died in the trusty Canon. |
|Eielson Ravens forever! Lynn, Thale and Paula.|
We then spent 5 days at Eagles Rest RV Park in Valdez. It turns out one of my high school classmates< Thale, works at this park and another, Chris, lives in Valdez. With a school as small as the one we went to it was like a class reunion (and, funny enough, our school was holding an all classes reunion in Las Vegas around this same time) and, as luck would have it, Thale's mom Paula, who was a teacher at our school, was visiting as well.
|Hanging out with my first ever high school boyfriend, Chris. One of his sisters, Kim, lives in Washington State...and I had the pleasure of hiking with her in both Olympic National Park and the Cascades. |
|Fireworks on the the 4th of July...it doesn't really get dark enough for them but it was fun anyway.|
A big highlight of our stay in Valdez was taking the Lu Lu Belle Glacier and Wildlife Tour. Granted, you'll have to throw down some coinage to catch this ride but it's so worth it...after all, how often are you going to go to Alaska? We certainly didn't travel 2000+ miles to sit on the sidelines and not experience the place. Now, we aren't rich but we knew we came here for the experiences...not to go home with money in our pocket. And Lu Lu Belle was a carpe diem moment (besides, my old high school teacher gave me one ticket free...whoop whoop!). Sadly, since my camera battery was completely kapoot I had no way to capture the cool stuff we saw, aside from my cell. So, you'll have to wait for Taylor or Beth to blog about it since they had the good camera on that trip.
|A beautiful midnight "sunset". If you're gonna stay at a crowded RV park you might as well make friends, eat some just caught halibut and share some great stories.|
I can't compare the Lu Lu with any other tour boat so I have no idea if there are better ones out there. But I can tell you that the staff was excellent, the boat was spotless, the captain had a plethora of information on everything we saw. He was respectful of the sea life, making sure to give whales plenty of space while ensuring everyone had a chance to get photos. When he maneuvered us close (very close) to a fishing boat, so we could see it action, he made sure the fishing crew was thanked with fresh baked brownies (which were passed from bow to stern in a fish net). We spent a lot of time at the glacier for lunch and then each and every person/couple/family was allowed to go on the bow of the boat for photos (some even held signs the crew prepared in advance saying Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah). It was epic.
|The perfect spot for lunch and freshly baked brownies, courtesy of the Lu Lu Belle crew.|
|Any Deadliest Catch fans here? The show (and cast) has caused quite a rift in the fishing community (apparently putting some companies out of business) but I still was secretly thrilled to come across THREE different ships from the show (The Northwestern photo didn't come out...sorry).|
|Another Deadliest Catch ship.|
|Although the locals might not agree, these semi-domestic bunnies that run all over town are freakin' adorable. And everywhere. |
|This town is breathtaking.|
The remainder of our time in Valdez was spent at the dog park, the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum (a must see in my books), the coffee shop at A Rogue's Garden, and hiking one of the many trails in the area. The town and the campground had two separate salmon bakes (free) during our stay and we got invited to hang out with some locals at the RV park and eat all of their halibut too. You just can't beat summer in Alaska...a place where people love to catch the fish, cook the fish and share the fish. We'd also heard about a mama grizzly in the area who had 4 (four) cubs!! We spent one evening, with friends Beth and Taylor, at the old pioneer cemetery looking for her. And while we didn't catch sight of her or her babies we did get sufficiently creeped out hiking around at midnight (it was starting to actually get dark at that hour) purposely looking for a bear...or ghosts.
|Fireweed in the rain.|
|Clark's first catch!|
|Fishermen (and a float plane) on the bay.|
We also spent the day at the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery on Dayville Rd. There is RV camping allowed out here in specified areas and might be a good choice for those who want waterfront (and slightly less crowded) parking. But, the place is popular and attracts a lot of fishermen and tourists who come to see the sea lions, bears and salmon. We spent a few hours watching the salmon and sea lions and then moved down the road to go fishing. There are specific rules on where and how you can catch salmon and it changes in different areas (and with different types of salmon). Be sure to know what you're fishing for and have proper licenses...they do check!
|Taylor and Clark with their salmon.|
|A sea lion enjoying a fresh meal.|
|These are thousands of salmon!!!|
Valdez surprised us...it was a beautiful town with lovely people, lots of activities, amazing scenery and a great marina vibe that rivaled any port we've been to so far. If Alaska is on your itinerary I'd recommend making Valdez not only a place to stop and see, but a place you might want to hang out for a while.
Labels: Alaska, Expedition Alaska, fishing, hiking, Valdez