Saturday, October 8, 2016

usbackroads destination- Valdez, Alaska

usbackroads destination--Valdez, Alaska

travel dates--August 14th and 15th, 2016

It was a long drive to Valdez and I was thankful that Blueberry Campground, 20 miles, short of Valdez was available for camping. The next day I made the drive down to Valdez.

Valdez is a working town. It is the end of the Alaskan pipeline. This is where the the oil gets loaded onto tankers for the trip to the lower 48 and your gas tank. Well, most of the time. That one tanker the Exxon Valdez did not quite make it out of Prince William Sound.

Here is the Wilkipedia entry: The Forest Service got involved in the clean up efforts and it was interesting to hear the stories. Exxon also got the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 passed which limited liability to oil companies to 75 million.

Times do change. Exxon managed get their total costs of the spill down to about 4.3 billion dollars. The costs for BP's Deepwater Horizon are 62 billion dollars.

As noted, Valdez is a working town. Oil and fish. They don't mix well, but they do coexist in Valdez. Here is a picture of the returning salmon to a commercial fish hatchery just outside of town. It appeared that an area of 10-20 acres was covered with fish as they waited their turn to go up the fish ladders to the hatchery....and their processing. The bears were well aware and stroll down to "fish" and do the seals on the water side. An interesting spot if your timing is just right.

You can increase your odds of catching a salmon by fishing them from the campgrounds along the sound. It does have a certain charm to it, but I prefer my fishing a bit more primitive. Of course, given my poor track record at catching steelhead and salmon on the Snake River in Washington, maybe I should have moved the Casita down from it lofty perch at Blueberry Campground and joined the crowds.

There is a nice bike path in the area that runs back into town.

The original town site was destroyed in the Alaska earthquake of 1964 and the resulting

This video covers the quake in Alaska:

I was in Anchorage in 1994 driving towards the Kenai and kept looking at the landscape wondering if it was bad highway construction or what caused the environmental conditions along the road. And then it dawned on me that 30 years later this was result of the 1964 quake. Truly a historic event.

Valdez was moved to a new location. I suspect much of the charm and history went out to sea on that day in 1964. It was laundry time and shopping for groceries.

Seafood was also on the agenda. You can catch your own or save a whole bunch of money and just buy it. We bought our seafood here just as they were closing the "outlet" store for the season: The snow crab was great as was the other seafood. They were located down by the dock. Ask for will find it, eventually.

Stopped by this place and got some salmon eggs. The kind you eat not fish with! Somewhere in my youth my parents could not longer afford sturgeon caviar and we switched to salmon caviar. My father was able to buy sturgeon caviar on a minimum wage salary in the 1950's. On a pretty good middle class salary I hesitate these days when buying salmon caviar. However, place an order and try it on real french bread with butter. You will never look a salmon eggs as bait ever again. Solomon Falls:

On  humorous note this is how you tell native Alaskan's from the tourists. Native on left. The tourist must be from Maine. I do like the LL Bean boots with shorts look.

The road into Valdez is pretty special with glaciers and waterfalls. This must have been what Yosemite Valley looked like 10,000 years ago.

Just north of town is a glacial lake with ice bergs. The only people taking advantage of  the scenery and lake were kids learning to kayak.

Valdez is a pretty special backroads destination. Today, it is little know. However, a town where you can see more than two dozen glaciers from downtown is a pretty special spot. It is slowly being discovered as the blog site notes: Go now before it is "discovered" and becomes a tourist town rather than a working town.

Then you can always sound like a old-timer and state "it was much better before Oprah built her summer home here". Valdez is a must do part of ANY trip to Alaska. We only spent two days there this time. Next time it will be a week or more.

Leaving town this is the view in the rear view mirror. That will make you come back.

1 comment:

niko the wolf said...

I think you left out "not" in

"That one tanker the Exxon Valdez did quite make it out of Prince William Sound."