Published: September 2nd 2010September 2nd 2010
Tuesday, August 31st.
Yesterday was my grandson, Nicholas’ return to school day. He has just started 7th grade; and today is my granddaughter, Makayla’ first day of kindergarten. It’s very difficult to be on a trip and not be able to hear immediately how their days have gone. I am loving the trip but missing out at the same time.
Driving in Alaska is definitely different than driving in California! The maximum speed limit is 55 miles per hour. All roads are only two lane highways, with the exception of Anchorage where the freeway had 2 lanes per direction. It is unlawful for a driver to hold up traffic with more than 5 cars trailing behind him. You must drive with your headlights on 24/7. Seward, Homer, Glenellen, and Valdez don’t have any traffic signals. Anchorage does have signals but remember, this city is inhabited by half of the people who live in Alaska. No billboards are allowed in the entire state. You must be on the constant lookout for “frosties” which are frost heaves in the road; if you drive quickly over these babies, you might leave your transmission behind or at best have your stomach fly up to
VALDEZ GLACIER 2
THE MORAINE IS OLDER SO NOT AS STARK, BUT THE GLACIER FED LAKE IS GORGEOUS
your throat! Plus signs are constantly reminding you to watch out for moose and caribou. Other tourists have told us tales about almost hitting a moose!
But my biggest driving problem is the scenery is so very beautiful that it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road.
From Glenellen we drove to Valdez. The countryside was so beautiful that I really didn’t want to come to the city but at the same time didn’t want to camp in the wild. We are going to try that in two nights from now.
We went out to see the Valdez glacier and once again couldn’t get very close to it - no roads and I’m not going to walk the 10 or more miles as this is definitely bear country with all these spawning fish. We did park the car in a major glacier moraine.
And talking about bears, when we left the glacier and went to the other side of the Valdez bay, I saw my first bear in the wild. As we were driving, Dick made an off side comment that if we were to see a bear it would be down in the
spring beside the road. “Hey, and there’s a bear for you” he cried. He stopped the car and hopped out and got as close as possible to photograph it. Brave me crept out of the car and fearfully peered down over the hill to spot him; I quickly snapped the picture and ran back to the car. I waited for my brother to be accosted by the bear but instead he got great pictures of the 300 feet tall black bear while my picture only shows a black dot. (Once again, my fearful imagination got the best of me and in reality; he was very safe as he used all safe bear techniques. He really walked slowly and used his telephoto lens. The bear was very aware we were there but was completely absorbed in eating the fish. After he ate a few fish in the stream, he took a few to be enjoyed on land, laid down and continued to pig out.)
Travel in Alaska is great. Life here is much harder. We pass by businesses that have opened with great expectation and are now closed. It’s easy for college kids to come up here for summer positions,
MY PICTURE OF THE BEAR
but much harder to find full time positions. The weather is harsh. The movie from yesterday at the national park summed it up: “It’s not that the land is hostile, merely indifferent and infinitely demanding.”
Life is grand,