Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 26 - July 9th, 2010 Sutton, AK to Valdez, AK

Today would be a good but long ride.  Valdez is the terminal point for the Alaska pipeline but the terminal area is not accessible to the public.  The large oil storage tanks where the ocean going tankers are loaded can be seen in the distance.  The city's museum documents the Exson Valdez's oil spill but it seemed ironic to be reading about this spill knowing that the current BP leak in the gulf would pale this Valdez event.

The ride from Sutton northeast to Glennallen had good scenery and the weather was encouraging.  There was a organized bicycle ride called the Fireweed 300 along this route with hundreds of cyclists.  Not sure if it was a race or just a ride.  Long uphill climbs followed by long descents.

The road south into Valdez was one of the best of the trip.  Very mountainous terrain, glaciers, water falls, Thompson Pass, and views of the pipeline kept us from making good time as we stopped frequently. 
The roadside water falls were dramatic because they were really a series of falls.  Most high mountain snow had water falls lower on the long slopes.
Thompson Pass felt like a true mountain pass with snow fields, cold weather, and great vistas.  Yet the pass was only 2,678 feet above sea level.  Note the snow plow markers along the road near the pass; they mark the edge of the paved shoulder from above.  I suspect the snow gets very deep up here in the winter months.

Valdez itself was a town focused on the fishing industry and providing tourists with restaurants, bars, large rv parks, and boat tours to take.  We should have taken one of these tours but the weather had turned to rain.  Tours will have to wait til next time here.

The weather had turned to a constant rain with fog setting in over the bay.  Retreated to a bar were we sampled Alaska's white and amber brews with a recently retired couple from Wisconsin.  Joined them for dinner and then retreated to a wet campground setting.

Are we having fun yet?

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