Valdez in Summer

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July 8th 2009
Published: July 21st 2009
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Commercial Fishing BoatCommercial Fishing BoatCommercial Fishing Boat

Testing the waters in Prince William Sound
Valdez, approx. population 5,000, sits at the mouth of Prince William Sound and is home to the Alyeska Marine Terminal, where oil from Prudhoe Bay travels nearly 800 miles through the TransAlaska Oil Pipe Line and is loaded onto tankers—over a million barrels each day. The bay is surprisingly ice-free, but Valdez is billed as the snow capital of Alaska due to its record accumulations. The town, across the bay from the Marine Terminal, is surrounded by glacier-studded mountains which rise straight up from the water to about 7,000 feet. Waterfalls spill down the mountain sides, and clouds descend below the jagged peaks. While the town itself is rather ho-hum, the scenery surrounding it is quite lovely.

The town of Valdez was actually moved from its original location after a massive 9.2 earthquake in 1964—the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America. The original town site was destroyed, and 31 people were swept out to sea. The quake impacted a large portion of south-central Alaska, including Anchorage and Seward. Alaska, having only 5% of the world’s land mass, experiences 11% of the world’s earthquakes, as it sits right atop the Pacific Ring of Fire. Fortunately, most of its earthquakes do
Summer IcebergSummer IcebergSummer Iceberg

From the Columbia Glacier
not affect populated areas.

We spent July 4 in Valdez and watched fireworks at 11 p.m., under a night sky that was still somewhat light--a new experience for us, but quite a memorable way to celebrate our nation’s birthday.

Diane enjoyed a day with Patti and Bill aboard the Lu-Lu Belle on a glacier/wildlife cruise, where they saw massive icebergs near the Columbia Glacier, the second largest tidewater glacier in North America. Dall porpoise, humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, seals, and sea otters were also observed, as well as bald eagles and puffins.

Others in the group went halibut fishing and we shared their catch one evening for dinner. Alaskan seafood is great!

Next stop, Anchorage.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Dall PorpoiseDall Porpoise
Dall Porpoise

These animals love to swim near the cruise boats; they are very fast!
Whale's TailWhale's Tail
Whale's Tail

Humpback Whale going down
Valdez Shop SignValdez Shop Sign
Valdez Shop Sign

We love these quirky signs
Campground ViewCampground View
Campground View

Mountains around Valdez are stunning
Giant Snow ThrowerGiant Snow Thrower
Giant Snow Thrower

There's an area in the center of town that was designed just to hold winter snow piles
Alesyka Marine TerminalAlesyka Marine Terminal
Alesyka Marine Terminal

Oil is fed by gravity from tanks on the hill to waiting oil tankers
Small Oil TankerSmall Oil Tanker
Small Oil Tanker

Waiting to be filled - the largest oil tankers are now banned from here ever since the Exxon Valdez spill 20 years ago due to "operator error"
Bald EagleBald Eagle
Bald Eagle

In flight over the campground
Alaska WildflowersAlaska Wildflowers
Alaska Wildflowers

So pretty and so plentiful
Valdez HarborValdez Harbor
Valdez Harbor

Fishing boats, turquoise water, and green mountains
Worthington GlacierWorthington Glacier
Worthington Glacier

We picnicked here one day with Ken and Ellie
Worthington Glacier Close-upWorthington Glacier Close-up
Worthington Glacier Close-up

Look on the left side of the previous photo. Two "idiots" are climbing in the glacier's cracks--not recommended.

21st July 2009

This is one of the most well-written travel journals I have ever read. Your pictures and descriptions make me feel like I'm there.

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