June 8, Valdez

Trip Start Jun 01, 2009
Trip End Jun 31, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We left the (not so) Dry Creek State Park near Glennallen and decided to visit Valdez because someone told us it was a beautiful drive. The Richardson Highway passed between mountains that were even more spectacular than we had already seen. The road passed the Copper River where several trucks had parked and people were fishing the river. Apparently for good reason as we learned later that the fish there were prised. The mountain passes were approximately 2800 feet above sea level and the snow patches came right down to the road.

One particularly beautiful mountain was named after Billy Mitchell, an American aviator who helped create an independent American Air Force during World War I.

Valdez, (population 4100) is a pretty little town with clean streets and lots of trucks and boats. They also had three surprisingly good museums. We bought fresh, smoked and canned salmon at the fish plant. We also saw an incredibly well restored steam fire pumper at one of the museums. Another museum concentrated on Valdez at the time of the earthquake and tidal wave on Good Friday in 1964 where a lot of the old town was lost. An old movie praised the American heros who came in to save the day. There was no mention of the infamous Exxon Valdez that ran aground in 1989 but I suppose it is a bit much to expect them to advertise the Exxon Valdez since Exxon is probably the main employer in the town.

We drove back to Glennallen and then headed west looking for a place to camp. With few options left in the area we decided to head for the Lake Louise (Alaska) campground which was 30 kilometres off the road; and a bad road at that. I decided to explore a little unmarked gravel road to the right, and found an abandoned gravel pit just out of sight from the road. Our solitude was interrupted when two ATV's drove by, but they drove back again and that was it for the night. We ate the fresh salmon for dinner, probably the best we ever had. On the way, I was studying the shapes of the rocks and noting that most roadsides and road cuts (including this gravel pit) exposed gravel consisting of different sizes of rounded rocks. I theorized that the rocks had to be ground by glaciers to be rounded and that I was looking at glacial deposits. We decided to follow the ATV tracks for our evening walk and they led to the top of the hill on the side of the gravel pit. But the hill, consisting entirely of gravel of rounded rocks, was the highest around by far. The views were incredible. So my theory that the hill was a glacial deposit was supported. How else could it be?

We had a peaceful and inexpensive night.
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darkstar on

Hi Richard, I'm really enjoying these insights into your travels. The detail is brilliant. Keep up the fine work, I've read it all and look forward to more. Cheers, David/darkstar.

richardvanleeuw on

Thank you David. And thank you for teaching me with your brilliant series of articles from Australia.

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