Summer is coming to an end. We can feel it in the air. The fireweeds are all gone and some of the trees are changing color. We know we have to leave but we are just not ready to admit it. Today we are driving to the town of Valdez and you know what? The one way drive in and out is super beautiful. Best drive yet.
In the town of Valdez, we will hunker down for a few days. Dan ordered a new brake for the Airstream wheel that he removed on our way out of McCarthy and it will need to be installed before we leave Alaska.
In addition to the brake, our camper shell bounced forward and out of place on that drive also. So once we arrived at the Elks in town, which was completely free (WOOHOO!), we emptied out all of our belongings like the classy folks we are and fixed the issue the best to our ability.
Once that was done, we set out to explore our surroundings. The Solomon Hatchery in Valdez is partly responsible for hatching millions of pink salmon each year in support of the commercial fishing industry in the Prince William Sound.
Thankfully no bears here today scooping up fish so we got to take a closer look. Plus that “barricade” isn’t going to save no one from an angry bear.
In order to keep the ecosystem in balance, only a fixed number of spawning pink salmon is allowed up the ladder to spawn.
The rest are kept outside of the weir futilely attempting to return to their birth place until they die.
I guess a whole bunch of dead fish can be a bit scary.
Good thing they have each other.
We didn’t think we were going to find a semi-affordable glacial tidewater cruise during our summer stay in Alaska. Glad we were wrong. I think we ended up spending a little less than $400 for 7 hours out on sea for our family of 5.
But 7 hours on a boat was 6 hours 55 minutes too long for a kid named Luka.
Lunch was included in the price which consisted of bowl of soup. That;s usually awesome but asking kids to hold a bowl of soup on their laps while seated on a rocking boat? Hahaha. Sit on the floor kids!
The girls kept busy with books and coloring. Luka on the other hand needed to move around. So we sneaked out back to get some air.
And to peek out these little port holes or whatever they are called.
Before we knew it, little chunks of glacier dotted the turquoise water.
We went outside to take a closer look.
The crew scooped up some ice floating in the ocean for the kids to take a closer look and to hold too. Look at Luka pulling down his sleeves to get ready for his turn.
And then we were a few hundred feet from the tidewater glacier. A third of it sits above the water and the other two thirds below. We also got to see and hear the glacier calve. It was breathtaking.
On our way back from watching the crumbling tidal glacier, the captain pulled the boat up to an iceberg twice this size. As we stood on the bow and rounded the corner, we were just as surprised to find a pack of 40 sea otters congregated on the other side as they were of us. Within a few minutes of watching them jump into frigid ocean waters, the entire iceberg began flipping over 180 degrees in slow motion until the bright blue underbelly was now exposed. We stood in their in awe. Never even realizing that icebergs could flip over like that. Bravo, Mother Nature. Bravo.
Here is what Dan looked like most of the boat ride.
He wasn’t the only one.
On the way back to port, we were escorted by a pod of Dall’s porpoises.
An multiple bald eagles too.
Here is Luka causing more shenanigans.
And then he was down for the count.
With just a few days left in our visit to Alaska, everything came together last night for an amazing Northern Lights show in the night sky. It looked even more amazing in person with ribbons of light extending and dancing above the mountain peaks that our camera just simply isn’t equipped to capture.
Dan ended up driving to the other side of town to get out of the city light while I hung back with the kids. I stood outside for so long crossing my fingers and toes for a show. And it happened. I think I gasped and cried and then looked down by my feet to find a bunny rabbit watching the sky with me. After sharing a moment with my new bunny buddy, I ran in the Mish to wake the kids. I could only wake Ava up and she got to experience the magic with me. Mila on the other hand was very sad that she couldn’t wake up.
The next morning we got the new brake delivered and installed.
And said good bye to our bunny friends. I guess some years ago, a RV park owner let his pet bunnies loose in town. Their population exploded and peaks every summer. Their population dwindles in the winter as they become food or lose the fight with winter and then in the spring the whole process starts again. Half the town loves it. The other half not so much.
Mila got to feed some carrots to one of the bunnies living under the Elks Lodge.
Today marks our last leg out of Alaska. One more quick stop in Tok and Chicken and that will conclude Alaska for us.
My job is to document a rear view shot of every state we visit while Dan drives. Today’s rear view shot of the Mish and those glaciers and mountains and waterfalls and greenery is my very favorite. It sums up our love for Alaska perfectly.
Thanks for reading,