Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25, 2010

South to Valdez


We headed south this morning to Valdez, the southern terminus of the Trans Alaska Pipeline.  The southern end of the Richardson Highway is often described as the most beautiful road in Alaska and compared to the Swiss Alps.  In a state where just about every road has beautiful views that is a pretty big billing.  It is beautiful and the views are ever changing and almost nonstop.  There is very little road that has a ‘dull’ view.

Our first stop was the headquarters for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. 

20100625-5 Wrangell-St. Elias visitor center

This is the largest United States National Park.  It is also, like Denali, pretty hard to get into.  There is one long, gravel road that goes to the Kennecott Copper Mine ruins.  The rest of the park is reached by plane or hiking.  We toured the visitor center for a while and then moved on.  We may stop again on our way back north.


20100625-26 Pipeline 

Alaska Pipe Line




20100625-28 Mts


About thirty mile from Valdez we came to the Worthington Glacier viewing area.  This glacier is one of the closest to a road in all Alaska.  With a bit of a hike one could get to the base but it is not advised.

20100625-52 Pete and Sue at Worthington Glacier

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Shortly after the glacier we went over Thompson Pass 20100625-67 View from Thompson Pass, south

and then began a twenty five mile descent to Valdez through some very pretty country.  Rugged, snow covered peaks, green hillsides,


20100625-80 Bridal Veil Falls

20100625-87 Horsetail Fallswild flowers, waterfalls,   mountain lakes, fjord like bay, and more.  All in less than twenty five miles.


20100625-90 fileting fish at the campground


Filleting Pink Salmon behind RV park office.  They treated the whole park to a fish fry this evening.




DSC05326 Campground fishfry

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010

Short Drive to Glennallen


We could have gone further but the drive to Valdez is supposed to be the most picturesque in all of Alaska (if that is possible) and I didn’t want to rush through it. 

01 Chucach Mountains 02 Knob Lakes

We found a nice quiet RV park with lots of space and trees (unlike most around that are parking lots with power poles) so we spent the afternoon catching up on things.

06 Glennallen


Glennallen, AK

Note the road looks like a roller coaster.  Frost heaves.  All the way through town and for MILES in each direction.  Make interesting driving.


Tomorrow back to travel mode.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23, 2010

On the Road Again.

We said farewell again to our good friends.  They treated us wonderfully.  Thank you Denny and Linda. We hope we get a chance to reciprocate in the future. 


See the gray tree sticks on the right of the picture?  Those are called ghost trees.  The earthquake on Easter, 1964 caused the land in many places sixty miles north to sixty miles south of Anchorage to sink six to eight feet or more.  That allowed salt water to reach the roots of trees that had been just above the fresh water/salt water interface.  In spots there are whole forests of ghost trees.20100623-10 Glenn Hwy to Palmer

North a few miles we stopped in Palmer, AK.  Quilt Shop :).

Palmer is the home of the Alaska state fair.  A couple of months from now those huge vegi’s. will be on display.  To look at gardens now you wouldn’t think that possible.  Lots of leaves but no fruit/flowers. 

A few more miles and a stop at a Musk Ox farm.

20100623-24 cows and calves 20100623-31 Papaya, injured bull

The musk ox are being raised for this:

20100623-36 Qiviut, downy fur under long hair

Qiviut is the under coat that the musk ox grow each winter.  It is so dense that the musk ox actually thrive in the extreme low temperatures above the arctic circle in winter.  It is VERY fine and VERY soft.  And VERY expensive. 

The qiviut is collected each spring, cleaned, and spun in to a very fine yarn.  The yarn is provided to native peoples who knit it into scarves, hats, blankets, jackets, etc.  A ski hat style cap that covers the ears costs $185.  They are having a raffle for a blanket for $5 a shot.  The blanket is valued at $10,000.

About half way between Palmer and Glennallen is the Matanuska Glacier.

20100623-56 Matanuska Glacier 20100623-66 Matanuska Glacier

Probably the smallest glacier we have seen in Alaska and it looks like it will not be around much longer.

June 22, 2010

Shopping and Restocking

We spent much of the day wandering around Anchorage, sightseeing, shopping, and restocking.  We will not be near an even medium sized town for several weeks.

June 21, 2010

  • Return to Eagle River



Back across the top of the Kenai Peninsula.

At the end of Turnagain Arm is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  This facility rescues animals that can not live in the wild.

14 Bison

Wood Bison

06 Moose, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center


10 porcupine, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center


09 Elk, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center 


12 Musk Ox, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center 

Musk ox

Up the Arm and through Anchorage back to Eagle River to the driveway of our good friends.

June 20, 2010

Father’s Day, Sunshine, and Bears!

First of all,  Happy Father’s Day to all to whom that applies.  Thanks to my kids for remembering me today.

This morning we woke up to something we haven’t seen for a couple of weeks.  Sunshine!  Very good omen.  Our drive down to Homer was very different than the previous two visits.  We could see farther than several hundred feet away.  Much farther.  The view across Cook Inlet to the chain of volcanoes was spectacular.  No clouds, just huge white mountains with blue sky behind them.

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A few clouds when we got to Homer but no big deal and no rain.

When we got to the hanger the plane was outside, another good sign.  We were good to go.



Don’t think I can properly describe the day so I will just post pictures with some comments.



Airport we just left from.








Small fishing village across the bay from Homer.







This is pretty neat.  Circular rainbow with shadow of plane in center.  Click on it to blow it up.






That is a mountain (caldera actually) completely covered by a glacier.  Not quite large enough to be called an ice field but it does feed several finger glaciers.





Glacier covering mountain.  Note that we are below summit.






Glacier from upper end with glacial lake at bottom.







Hallo Glacier







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Bear with another tour group in the background.







Medium sized paw print with reference.







Pretty good sized male.








Sow and cub.  We watched this pair for some time from several spots.






Do they seem closer?







Closer yet?






Closer yet?

IMG_6594 IMG_6595 IMG_6596

They came within ten feet of us.




And then moved on.






Nursing cub







Mother and child.








Intrepid adventurers







Right:  Intrepid adventurers

Center: Michael Hughes – Pilot/Guide

Left: Couple from Netherlands





Duncan Hughes, Michael’s son





Time to head home

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WARNING !!!  This next picture is X-Rated.  Do not scroll if offended.


















Probably more than you all wanted to see but have had requests for us to share.