July 31

The trip today took us from Tok AK to Valdez AK. It was an interesting ride since it started out fogged in and we were disappointed as this road route is perhaps the most beautiful in all of Alaska. Fortunately after some miles the clouds lift and the mountains on both sides are spectacular. We stop at the Worthington Glacier and hike out on it for pictures. The glacier is getting smaller but not as quickly as some. Waterfalls are pouring off it and down the valley to a pond below. Of course its cold, even when the sun peaks out. We drive on towards Valdez, the last 40 or 50 miles are remarkable, could have been in Switzerland. There are snow streaked peaks and the Thompson Pass is only about 2,800 ft in elevation, yet it has recorded 1000 inch snow falls and is sometimes closed despite all the modern road clearing equipment. It is also the historic route into the interior of Alaska for the gold rush. Horse, mule and human chains climbed up the passes to get access to the interior. Many didn’t make it. And we complain while driving in our warm Jeep that we are not getting a clear view.
We explore the town which seems both diversified in its business life and its orientation. It is the southern end of the Alaska pipeline and 1 million barrels or crude are received and transferred to tankers every day. But is is a historic commercial fishing town and that is still active although not as in its peak days. Then there is sport fishing, we watch the halibut fishing derby with some really huge catches. Then there are the RV and driving tourists who are offered various glacier tours and other outdoor activities. And it is a cruise line port, so it changes from quiet to over run on schedule.
Valdez does not have a lot of charm as a town but does have a full range of services. But the geographic location is simply stunning. It looks like it is at the end of a Norwegian fiord. Glaciers are visible and fast running streams touch the ocean. The forrest is thick and green in contrast to the thinner tundra forrest we have traversed for days.

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