Day 31, 6/29/15, Monday
Weather: Overcast in the morning, rain in the afternoon and evening. The temperatures today were in the high 50’s to low 60’s.
Today was a full day in Valdez. The town is surrounded by some of the world’s tallest coastal mountains with a few glaciers to add to the beauty. There is an overlook that is over 120 steps above town, giving a beautiful overview of the harbor and mountains. We made the best of our time visiting the town shops, supporting the local economy, and the Visitor Center.
Valdez is not a large community (4,500) and apparently has been hurt with the reduced number of visitors in recent years. One store proprietor explained that fewer people have visited the town by land because of the cost of fuel. Valdez is at the end of a 120 mile downhill, essentially empty road. The return journey is on the same 120 mile road only uphill this time. The road is vacant except for the beautiful mountains, glaciers, etc. before any other journey can start. We feel coming here was a great choice.
The town also has been hurt by sea because cruise ships have ceased stopping here. Obviously, the oil industry is big (it is the terminus of the Alaska pipeline) as well as commercial fishing and processing. Salmon is EVERYWHERE-fishing charters, pack and freeze shops that will send fish home, salmon jerky, smoked salmon, etc. and half the items on a restaurant menu.
As we stopped into the shops, the people were welcoming and were interested to know where we were from. Most of these people have their own roots that go back to a state in the lower forty-eight. All of them share their enjoyment with living in Valdez.
One of the last stops of the day was when Gail went down to the state ferry office to inquire about routes and schedules for the waterway system that connects the communities along the coast. Since some of the communities along the coast like Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, etc. are not reachable by road, we might consider using the ferry service to reach them. There are also some communities that we would like to visit in the Aleutian chain of islands that can only be reached by ferry or float plane.
At the end of the afternoon, we decided to have dinner in one of the local restaurants, “The Totem”. The dinner, atmosphere, and service were very good. Now we are back “home” and turned on the heat. It is 56° at 8 pm and we want to be toasty. And we brought shorts.
G & P