I can't really say much about Fairbanks. We arrived later in the day, checked into our Inn, and went for a salmon bake supper. We didn't get to see anything more than the road in and out of town and what was between our inn and the place we had supper.
Denali too was a non-event. Once we got into the mountains, the clouds lowered and dumped rain. We arrived at our motel in a steady rain, and basically saw nothing other than the trees. There was no restaurant at the motel, and it was far from any others. They did have a supply of frozen foods for sale and a barbecue outside each room, so we cooked some steaks for supper.
We arrived in Anchorage in sunny weather, and actually got out to see a bit of the town in the afternoon before supper. I discovered that on the day we arrived that the local air force base (Elmendorf) was having an air show, and that the U.S. air force demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, were performing with their F-16's. From just out behind our motel I was able to watch much of their show before leaving to explore
the town. We drove around the downtown area, then went looking for the waterfront and some parks and scenery southeast of town. We took the highway towards Seward and were rewarded with some ocean and mountain vistas along the Turnagain Arm.
The next morning we left Anchorage for the drive to Valdez. Valdez was kind out of the way for us, and I was unsure of why we were taking the lengthy side trip. The road from Anchorage heads east through forested areas, with many mountain views. We stopped to take some pictures of the Matanuska Glacier, which based on the size of the moraine area, was a fraction of its original size. The road eventually came to an intersection at Glennallen, where we turned south on the only road in and out of Valdez. The road heads south towards Valdez and follows valleys until the climb starts to the Thomson Pass. I was not prepared for the incredible beauty of the mountains on the other side of the pass. Everywhere you could see were big snow-covered peaks. The town of Valdez was completely surrounded by peaks with snow on them. By the look of the town and the
number of overflowing R.V. parks, it is a popular vacation destination - or summer home - for many Americans. I saw motorhomes and trailers from all over the U.S., and didn't notice any from Canada. The harbour has many marinas, and sport fishing seems to be the main activity. The wharfs all have fish cleaning stations that seem to get lots of use. I watched a couple of fishermen cleaning a few “small” halibut that were only about 3 feet long. They were amused when I asked them if I could watch because it was pretty exotic for a prairie boy. On the way to Valdez, one of the group I was riding with had a tire start to come apart and he limped into Valdez, but had to arrange for a new tire before he went any further. He rented a car in Valdez and left at 4 AM the next morning to drive back to Anchorage to get a new tire. He was back in Valdez at 2:30 PM after 10 hours of driving, then mounted the tire and drove another 5 hours to Tok with the rest of us. The unexpected problem gave the rest of us
the morning free in Valdez while we awaited his return before we continued our trip. We were able to spend the time getting a better look around and taking pictures. The scenery in Valdez really was spectacular, and well worth the trip in.
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