Valdez - Whittier - Seward - Homer
Up at the crack of dawn, and on to the 7:15am ferry from Valdez to Whittier. This was planned to be a highspot, including a fine view of Alaska's biggest Glacier, the Columbia.
First, the bad news. The fog, mist and rain meant that we couldn't see more than one hundred yards.
Second, the good news. First seals and later a pod of Orcas (killer whales) came within one hundred yards of the car ferry! The latter are great, big Jaws-style fins looming out of the miss, then that distinctive black and white body sliding over the top of the waves. The ferry captain was good enough to hang out for fifteen minutes, andwe just watched the whales playing together, spurting water from their blowholes, a lovely sight. Shame they basically hunt everything in the sea - although not, apparently, people.
We arrived in Whittier, a town without a road out. There is a train, which is a reasonably alarming experience. You drive up a ramp, onto a flat bed truck, and then along the train until you reach the car in front, where you put the handbrake on. Nothing else to secure the car, so hope for no sharp bends and no RV driver forgetting the handbrake.
An hour and a few tunnels later we were in Seward. Seward is a place I rather liked, because it's not really a tourist town. It's a fishing centre, and it's kind of nice to feel incidental from time to time. We spent a really nice evening down by the docks, watching someone filleting giant halibut fish that run up to 300 pounds and more. Also watching were a lot of scavenging gulls and a sea otter, all happy to clean carcasses.
It's also a pretty town, when the clouds clear. Then there's the sea life centre, most notable in my memory for the underwater view of puffins. These creatures are ludicrous on the surface and inelegant in the air. But underwater they swim like fish and seem to stay down a very long time.
After a couple of days in Seward we headed on to Homer. Yet another Glacier - Exit Glacier - hence the rather pretty ice water lake at the right. Also our second roadside moose sighting.
(click thumbnails for a larger picture) |
Icy water at Exit Glacier