We laid low in quiet, remote Slana through the Fourth of July, having heard Alaskans like to get out and about. The lines at a filling station where three major Alaskan highways intersect (the Tok Cut-Off, Richardson and Glenn Highways) in Glennallen was proof positive of this:
We weren’t sure if the weather would cooperate with us as we drove south on the Richardson Highway toward Valdez, but to us, every day is beautiful, even the cloudy ones, and this was a stunner in its own way:
Stopping to gawk at the Worthington Glacier on the way, we were — again — stunned to see how far back this particular glacier had receded since anyone started paying attention.
But it was gorgeous nonetheless!
Up over the Thompson Pass we went, where snow still skirted the sides of the highway. Doesn’t look like much next to the snow markers hanging over that oncoming SUV, does it?
The beauty of the cascading Horsetail Falls eluded my photographic skills, despite the countless waterfalls we were able to practice on this trip!
Before long, we were in Valdez, one of those great harbor towns where working boats bring in all that seafood we love to eat!
We happened to be there on a day when crews were getting ready to go out to sea. These fishermen were making a neat pile of their net on the back of the boat…
…while this crew man relaxed, his work for the moment done:
We stayed at the Bayside RV Park in Valdez three days in early July, enjoying the Bald Eagles the town is famous for attracting. This one sat in the marshy flat that was our front yard:
Soon we saw a pair in a nearby tree…
…and when one of the long-term renters at the RV park came out to feed them (which is allowable by permit only), we were in for a show as one of the eagles swooped down from the tree…
to capture the fish tossed out for it…
…only to be harassed by this spunky Raven:
It was quite a show, ending with an impromptu, synchronized two-step:
We started hiking the Dock Point Park trail, a loop around a nearby peninsula, with views to the Port of Valdez and Alyeska Oil Terminal (and famous Alaska Pipeline, which you can see in the background where it’s piped from land to the terminal over water):
But you can also see a dog off leash here, which is why we turned back. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t understand that ignoring rules to leash their pet puts people who are allergic (as we are) in danger. The local woman who owns this dog got surly with us when we asked that she leash her dog, saying, “I live here!” Sorry — didn’t realize rules were only for visitors!! (???) She’s very lucky we avoided a hospital visit because of her dog… or we would now own (her) land in that beautiful spot of Alaska. </rant!>
So we wandered up and down the boardwalk along the harbor, enjoying the stunning setting…
…and seeing the huge halibut being offloaded from the daily charter boats:
A drive along Dayville Road gave us views of Valdez from the opposite side of Port Valdez (the name of the inlet that feeds from Prince William Sound). We watched charter and private fishing boats cruise the water, and then we caught sight of something much smaller and more entertaining…
…so Bob set up his tripod and we got ready to see what we could see…
…and there it was! Just like the photos we’d seen and images on TV, a beautiful sea otter, cruising along on his back:
Like the eagles, we watched this critter until it was out of sight. We parked again back up the road at the Salmon Gulch Hatchery where the spawning areas weren’t nearly as interesting as the commotion in the open water, where this seagull’s fishy find…
…wasn’t about to go unchallenged (yes, that is another opportunistic, patient raven waiting for its chance in the background):
But the seagulls (and ravens) weren’t the only ones having luck fishing that day:
Yes! A sea lion!
Ah! That makes the day complete, doesn’t it?!?