June 8, 2012

Valdez Adventure

ADVENTURE: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks; an exciting or remarkable experience.

While this past weekend did not involve danger, it did involve some go-with-the-flow attitude, some unknown, was extremely exciting and a remarkable experience.  Safe to say, it was an adventure.

So what did we do this past weekend?  We traveled to Valdez, AK... by ferry.  A 6-hour ferry ride to be exact, followed by a 6-hour car ride home in the rain.  But, if you've followed our latest adventures, rain is just par for the course.

The beginning of our adventure seemed very promising - it was sunny, the sky was blue and the 6-hour cruise along the Alaska Marine Highway to Valdez was breathtaking, with views of mountains, icebergs, killer whale dorsal fins, sea otters, sea lions and bald eagles. But, as soon as we reached our destination, or should I say, as soon as we could see our destination, the clouds rolled in and the rain started coming down.  Not having a plan, we frantically tried to find a place to stay, knowing we wanted to tour Valdez in the am. Turns out, the closest campground still had four to five feet of snow, in June.  Greeeeaaaat. So, we went with the flow and were forced to drive, and drive some more, leaving Valdez behind and bypassing all the things we wanted to see. Thank you Alaskan weather. Before we knew it, it was 1am and we were back at last week's camping spot along the Little Nelchina River, half-way home, blowing up the air mattress so we could sleep in the back of the car.  At least we were comfy, and dry.  What was meant to do be a three day adventure, quickly turned into a day and a half. But, it was still an adventure - exciting and remarkable, despite the rain and change of plans.

Get ready for a lot of pictures...

Alaska Railroad - a must do for anyone visiting Alaska.
Having some fun with my camera in the Whittier tunnel (it's supposed to be an M).
Our ferry to Valdez - M/V Aurora.
Best seats on the ferry.
Thank you Milepost - the bible of Alaskan road trips.

Trust me, it's a Stellar sea lion resting on ice. If only I had better lens (hint, hint).

The most remarkable part of our ferry ride. "Ice berg, right ahead." Can't tell you how many times that was said during this part of the ride. 
Lazy sea lions.
The view from Valdez on.
Keystone Canyon.  As Steve said, "something out of Jurassic Park".
These posts guide snow plow drivers in the winter.  Yes, they get that much snow.
FYI, these pictures were taken in June.

I may have shed a tear at this.  Mama was trying to get baby to cross the river but it was too strong for baby.We watched him fall into the river.  He's soaking wet.  I was afraid we were going to see him drown. Luckily, he made it!
Despite the rain, we had to stop and see the Alyeska Pipeline.
More pipeline.
Quick note about the pipeline: The Trans Alaska Pipeline System was designed and constructed to move oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the northern most ice-free port in Valdez, AK. It is 800 miles long and crosses three mountain ranges and more than 30 major rivers and streams. Construction was completed in 1977 and cost $8 billion, making it the largest privately funded construction project at that time.

Midnight sun anyone? 

Have you ever gone on adventure that didn't go according to plan?

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