Monday, July 13, 2009

26-2009 Valdez to TOK and exiting Alaska

Valdez Alaska

TOK Alaska

I spent my last couple of days just riding my bike around new Valdez and having lunch at a couple of the local places. At Mike’s Place, I ordered a pizza which took forever to arrive, but I had struck up a conversation with a guy from Quebec. He’s a French teacher and is traveling on his own just like me. We got into a conversation with the staff at the restaurant and found out four of them came from Turkey to work for the summer. Later on at another local place, I overheard the cashier introduce a local to one of their workers who had come all the way from Peru. They sign up for these jobs in their country and then fly over and work and experience a different culture and way of life.

The town subsists mainly on fishing, the Oil pipeline terminus station and of course some on tourism, though I wouldn’t really call this a tourist town. There are very few tourist shops, but if you like the water, fishing, hiking and biking, I’d say this is the place to visit.

Exiting Alaska’s Mainland.

I can’t believe my time is up here. I suppose I could have stayed a little bit longer, but I’ve seen most of what I was interested in seeing before heading down to PART II of my Alaskan Adventures.

The one place I would have liked to have gone into was the Wrangell St Elias National Park. It’s the largest park in the U.S. but alas, being one of the newest parks, it has only two dirt and gravel roads into it. Can you imagine driving about 59 miles on an abandoned rail line with the occasional rail spike popping up. Mountains that are 18,000 feet in height and the almost ghost town of McCarthy and the defunct Kennecott Mine site accessible only by that 59 mile gravel road or one could rent a plane ( $250) or take a bus in for $99.00. I asked one of the Rangers about whether the park will be paving the only two roads leading into the park and he said they probably will one day, but that he hopes they wouldn‘t. He’d prefer to make it a bit difficult so that only the ones who really desire wanting to get into the park will make the effort. Forget about some of us who would love to go, but are also concerned their back may go out on a 3 hours rough drive in and another three hours out of the park. And then one would only get to see perhaps 1% of the park itself during the couple of hours you’d have to look around.

I think if I ever come back, I’d plan on taking the plane ride. Definitely on the top of my list of things I’d like to do. For now I think the forest fires in the area would not make for good flying.

But for now I’ve arrived back in TOK, the town I first arrived in when entering Alaska, 90 miles from the Canadian boarder. If you come up this way, I strongly recommend Fast Eddie’s Restaurant in TOK. It’s about the last place in Alaska that you’ll be able to get fresh vegetables and fruit. Full menu with lots of good choices. I had the salad bar and a ½ croissant sandwich. They make their own fresh breads and buns.

Tomorrow I head across the boarder and back into Canada for about a week. I’ll then drive down to Skagway Alaska for my three plus days on the Alaskan Ferry, giving me a chance to see the Alaskan Inner Passage with a stop over in Ketchikan before arriving back in Canada at Prince Rupert.

I’m including a picture of the map I have hung up on my Mirror in the living room of my camper. It shows all the places I’ve (we’ve) been so far. I’ll also publish a copy on the Picasa site so you can download it “full size” and review off line. There’s still more to go, but we’ve traveled quite a distance and I thought this would be a good time to reflect back on that.

Note: I do occasionally add more pictures to the albums on my Picasa site, so please check back on some of the most recent albums. Check out the Valdez Album and others.

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