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Published: July 21st 2009
Commercial 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
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.
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