Saturday, August 8, 2009

Valdez to Haines Alaska

It did take us a little longer than we expected to get to Valdez. Linda came down with a bug that took about 48 hrs till she felt like traveling so we did spend a few more days in Palmer.

We traveled to Valdez by way of the Richardson Highway. What spectacular scenery, considering part of the way was obscured by smoke from the forest fires that are all around us. We drove thru the Wrangell Mts. and Chugach Mts. There were beautiful snow capped mountains and glaciers galore. At the Big Delta Bridge; Tanana River/Pipeline crossing was a view of the pipeline suspended across the river and river boat traffic. Still signs all over beware of Bear, Moose and horses crossing. There were two beautiful waterfalls, one was the Horsetail and the other was the Bridal Veil.

Sadly all along the way are many tourist stops that people told us we should stop and they were closed or for sale. Everyone is hurting.

The weather is still cooperating, after a few days of rain we are back again to sunny and depending on the wind clear days.

Valdez was sunny when we arrived at the Sea Otter RV Park. Our site again was backed up to the water on Prince William Sound. What a view fish jumping, sea otters giving us a show and a seal doing his flips, not to forget the many fishing boats coming and going into the harbor. Next to us was the Peter Pan Fishery, they employed a lot of people. Their dorms and the mess hall were next to our park. There was the cutest little ice cream truck(really a golf cart) that came into the park twice a day. It was a young girl who had the business.

Before the 1964 earthquake Valdez was 4 miles east of it’s present location.

Across the water from the RV Park you could see the trans Alaska pipeline that ends at the Marine terminal at Port Valdez. The tankers came in daily, you could see them slowly lower into the water as they filled up. In March 1989 the Tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef (30 miles from Valdez) causing an 11 million gal. Oil spill.

This was their big Gold Rush Days weekend. There was a lot going on, the open market with crafters etc. They even had a can can contest. The last day they had a parade and a town fish fry which we couldn’t attend because Linda shared her bug with Bob. So we will spent extra time

They have a Valdez Historical Museum which depicts lifestyles and workplaces from 1898 to present .There is also Prince Williams Sound Community College and Whitney Museum that houses a collection of animal mounts and native dolls plus much more.

Also before you reach the pipline terminal you come across the Allison Point fishery created by the Salmon Gulch Hatchery. What a site, thousands of Salmon swimming to their demise. You could watch them separate the male and females, taking the eggs from the females and the males went back into the water. What a struggle for these fish, but they never gave up.

We stayed in Valdez till the 3rd of Aug . then started heading toward Tok. We are doing some back tracking now. We stopped at a pull out along the Glen Highway/Tok cut off for the night. It was about 52 miles from the Canadian border. There were 3 other RV’s there and a cute fox looking for a handout. We had a view of the

Midway Lake and the Wrangell Mountains. The smoke was really bad on the drive, there are over 2 million acres burning. We did stop at Wrangell St Elias National Park and Preserve, we wanted to fly into Wrangell-ST. Elias National Park and Preserve to tour the Kennecott mill and mine, the largest copper mine of it time. Do to smoke and the fires it wasn’t going to happen. We did get to see Mount Sanford(elevation 16,237’).

When we got to Tok we stopped for gas did some shopping and had a great dinner at Fast Eddie’s. Great food.

Now we are traveling on the Alaska Highway and guess what? Another time change. We have three cocks and our watches and they all have a different time. Thank goodness we don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time. We did get to see Trumpeter Swans as we passed many small lakes.

The Border patrolman that past us thru the border was very talkative, seems his parents live in Scranton, Pa, which is about 2 hours from our hometown. We were heading to Destruction Bay and passed Burwash Landing where they have the World’s Largest Gold Pan and yes it is large.

Our stop for a few days was the Cottonwood RV Park. We wanted to stay at the State Park but it was closed due to bear occupancy, seems like the fish and berries are on their minds right now, and they’d be the only ones filling up on these treats.

This was a very very nice park and again we were backed up to the Kluane Lake. Bob did some fishing but did not do to good. It was more or less just a relaxing stop. The scenery was beautiful all around us.

We left there on the 7th of August and headed to Haines. We saw many icefields and to the west they were the largest in the world outside the polar ice caps. Haines is about a 150 mile detour to this seaport city-15 miles across to Skagway by the fast ferry and about 350 miles by road.

We are at the Haines Hitch Up RV Park Very nice and they are very particular about a lot of things. We made reservations to do the fast ferry on Sunday to Skagway so we can do the Whitepass and Yukon Route train. Will tell you all about it next time.

The original name for Haines was Dei Sku(end of trail) referring to where the Chilkat and Chilkoot Indians met and traded with Russian and American ships at the end of the peninsula.

Fort Seward is south of Haines City center on Portage Cove and is a National Historic Site. Name was changed to Chilkoot Barracks 1922 to avoid confusion with the town of Seward. For 20 years it was the only Army Post in Alaska. The buildings are now residences and business. Some are under restoration at this time. The hospital is now the home of the Alaska Indian Arts. Behind and down the hill is “Soapsuds Alley”, small homes for non commissioned officers whose wives did laundry for the men.

There is a Hammer Museum, with close to over 2000 different hammers. The outside hammer is modeled after a Maydole hammer made in 1923, it is 19’ long a 26’ in diameter spruce log for the handle. The oldest hammer in the museum is 800 years old. Talk about an unusual museum.

Dalton City is housed in the “White Fang” Disney film set at the fairgrounds. The former movie set now houses a microbrewery (not very Disney like). There is a market day every Sat. at the fairgrounds during the summer. They had crafts, food and entertainment. Sure different than what we are used to.

We took a ride along the river where there are some RV sites, they are really tight. We think you have to come in and your in for the season. You can park along the road to go fishing and if your lucky you might be fishing with the bears. We didn’t see any but we were told they are there.

Haines is also know as the Valley of the Eagles. Every Oct. Nov, The American Bald Eagles numbering up to 3500 arrive and gather in the Chilkat Valley. This is the largest congregation of the Eagles in the World.

The Fish and Game Dept. operate Fishwheels along the Chilkat River. Scientist use the wheel to scoop up the fish, tag and measure them then return them to the water.

Yes we’re finally done for now. We’ll be here another day then it will be back to Whitehorse and get good internet service so we can do pictures.

Everyone stay healthy and enjoy the rest of the summer.

From the dogs. Blazer went into the lake where Bob was fishing, but only till his chest got wet, then it was back on dry land. They won’t let me, Lilly, go in. It was a steep bank and I wouldn’t be able to climb back up. Or well I’ll just take a nap. Its great being in this place called Haines, they have grass. It seems like most of Alaska has gravel. Hope the next place has grass.

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