The highlight of our first night in Valdez was dinner at the Fat Mermaid. All restaurants in the area have two things in common. They are all expensive and they all serve fried food with french fries.
It was raining when we arrived yesterday and its raining today. Forecast is 100% chance of rain all day. Consequently, although there are beautiful Mountains surrounding this town most views are not seen because of the rain, fog, and cloud cover. The photo above is a glimpse of the Valdez Glacier. If you blow the picture up you might be able to see it. In the 1898 Gold Rush gold seekers traveled over the glacier to the Alaska interior. If the weather was better Sandy and I would be on one of the many fantastic hiking trails. But, this rain is keeping us in the car or the hotel.
After lunch we visited the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery where million of pink and silver salmon return each year. Apparently, it is a hotspot for bears and eagles and other marine mammals who come to feed on the salmon. The fifteen mile ride in the rain was worth the trip. Sandy spotted a black bear as we I drove at 20 miles an hour looking at Solomon Lake.
It turned out to be two small black bear cubs eating leaves off trees They were well hidden so our attempt to photograph failed to show much more than trees. We did find another fantastic huge waterfall near the fish hatchery. Photo below.
Most people who come to Anchorage, Fairbanks or Valdez visit museums. There are many options in each city. Each offers Native art and artifacts. All of these museums offer much to see and much to ponder. Sandy and I saved our brains from trying to learn something new. We haven’t been to any museum and have no plans to enhance our minds. We prefer to ride around town aimlessly looking at places off the tourist attraction maps.
The photo below was taken yesterday. It is Bridal Veil Falls which flows right into the Lowe River. In the winter these falls freeze over. This town has about six months of snow usually starting at the end of October through April.
We arrived in Valdez, Alaska at 3:45pm after a 367 miles of gold Birch trees, Evergreens, Scotch Pines, Snow capped Mountains, painted color collage landscapes and waterfalls galore. So, lets start at the beginning of the day.
We left Fairbanks on a four lane Highway 2 that quickly turned into a two lane bumpy black top. We passed North Pole, Alaska and decided not to stop because we figured Santa and Mrs. Claus were having their morning coffee and Sant’s elves looked too busy to greet visitors. Highway 2 merged to Highway 4 and by the time we passed Eilison Airforce Base we were dodging highway potholes. Apparently, Alaska doesn’t invest too much in the highway systems. In the 300 plus miles we encountered one road crew working on a Sunday that shut down traffic for 15 minutes. We did find 12 miles of newly paved blacktop but that was it. One blessing, however, was we saw on semi-trailer truck the entire day.
The scenery is so spectacular but difficult to describe. Summit Lake, Paxson Lake, Keystone Canyon, Thompson Pass, and the Wrangell Mountains were among the best sights. Then, of course, there were the Horsetail Waterfalls (photo below) and Bridal Veil waterfalls which were the best among the many lesser sized waterfalls along the way. We also stopped near Worthington Glacier but we couldn’t get close enough for a good picture in the heavy rainfall. Now we are resting in our hotel near the Valdez Harbor and looking forward to tomorrow. Valdez is situated in a majestic fjord, where the 5000 foot tall Chugach Mountains rise from Prince William Sound. Valdez is often called Alaska’s “Little Switzerland” a perfect place for campers and hikers. We cant wait to explore all day tomorrow..
Fairbanks, Alaska with no itinerary, no specific agenda, all on our own. We didn’t wake up until 8am. Sandy hasn’t slept in until 8am since high school! After breakfast we needed a shuttle to the airport. We picked up our Nissan from Avis to begin a day of roaming around Fairbanks. First destination was the Botanical Gardens. We arrived to find it was closed. So, we headed to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks to find a surprise. That big momma Moose and her baby were on the road. We carefully moved the car forward to get a few good photos.
In downtown Fairbanks we discovered Soapy Smith’s restaurant. We were greeted by the owner who was so excited to tell us about the history of this restaurant. It was started by his grandparents. Grandma ran Soapy Smith’s until she passed away at age 100. Crab Cake sandwich and clam chowder were excellent.
Most of the afternoon was spent in R&R mode. I watched Albert Pujols hit home run #696 and saw the Cardinals score three runs in the ninth inning to win 7-5.
After some shopping at Fred Meyers for lunch food and travel mix for our journey tomorrow. we headed for dinner. Again, we discovered another great family restaurant story. Pikes Landing was started by a guy who transplanted from Bellingham, Washington. Today its a popular sports bar restaurant with good food a good service.
We hope to get a good nights sleep because tomorrow we have a seven hour drive to Valdes, Alaska. If the weather is nice we should get some spectacular fall color photographs for you to enjoy.