The Frontier State gives up yet more of its secrets!
22.05.2016 - 23.05.2016
Room 104, Best Western Edgewater Hotel
19.45 Monday 23rd May
Firstly, thank you all for your great comments. Judges are studying suggestions for the moose competition. And as for guessing what Bob's meal was, I suspect that most readers felt too nauseous to have a go(!), I can now reveal that it was "Homestyle Beef Pot Pie" so that stuff on top was actually pie crust (pastry?). Bob said it was actually delicious.
Back to the current Blog........ Well, we have a problem! Alaska has been so stunning, we wonder whether we will ever be satisfied with, for example, those plain ole' Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Wyoming etc! It's a blessing that we held off coming here until this our 14th visit to the USA. Otherwise it would have spoiled all the other trips! I am sure this is not right but that's how it feels at the moment. We will have to come back here as there is so much more to explore.
The last two days we have spent nearly 11 hours on boats. The ferry from Valdez to oh-so-much-more attractive Seward (via the tiny port of Whittier).
Not much narrative today as the pictures will do the talking. The ferry had started at 5am in the port of Cordova, then departed from Valdez at 11 as the clouds cleared and the skies, miraculously, turned blue again. We have been so lucky.
Even before we boarded the ferry, Bob spotted this little fella near the dock, a Sea Otter
We had comfortable seats in the front lounge with picture windows but we could also wander out onto the open decks, where we did need to wrap up warm.
Thaaar she blows! SO exciting!
We saw whales and sealions. The whales were difficult to catch on camera. First you look for the "blow" or spouts, where they come to the surface ready to take another gulp of oxygen when you may see a fin or tail (of which we saw several) before popping down to the bottom for a bit more to eat.
Icebergs from one of the several glaciers we saw
The 5¾ hours trip to Whittier passed amazingly quickly.
Although a tying up point for cruise ships, Whittier is even more cut off than Valdez as the only road out is through an old rail tunnel. Until recently, cars had to be loaded onto railroad cars to get through the tunnel. They now have relaid the track so that it's possible do drive over the track, a bit like a city tram track. But it is only a single tunnel and the space is shared between rail traffic and road traffic in both directions. For vehicles out of Whittier, you park up until the tunnel is opened in your direction which, for us, was on the hour, each hour, for 15 minutes. We were in time to make the 5 o'clock "run" so we were all marshalled into the long, dark, narrow and damp tunnel for its 2.5miles.
Whittier was built by the army when the Japanese landed on the Aleutian Isles in WWII. It has since been sold by the government and, until recently, everyone in Whittier lived in this block of apartments!
On the other side, we found yet more amazing scenery as we crossed the Thompson Pass, down to Seward. We could not work out why there was so much traffic going in the other direction. Then we managed to work out that it was Sunday and people we going back to Anchorage after a weekend on the Kenai Peninsula.
A nice Best Western hotel right near the waterfront and away from the bustle of the boat docks. We have a great view of Resurrection Bay.
This couple from Maine we got chatting to on the ferry, then they turned up for breakfast at this hotel, then we saw them checking out, then they were out walking this morning when we were having a wander around.
For today we had booked a wildlife boat tour. The Captain hunted down (just for the camera, of course) whale (Orca, or 'Killer Whales' and Hump Back Whales), porpoises, glaciers, puffins, more whales, a Bald Eagle on its nest on the cliffs, and a mountain goat having a rest. John managed to capture most of these, but, given how much the boat was bobbing up and down (we both managed to avoid sea sickness) there were many duff shots. Onboard was included a buffet lunch of wild Alaska salmon and/or prime rib. Which was very good.
Sea Otter relaxing on his back
An amazing couple of days.
Tomorrow we drive back to Anchorage, back over the Thompson Pass, for one night before our flights to Washington DC.