In addition to seeing the bears last week, we spent several days in the Anchorage area. Rather than drag our 5th Wheel down there for four days, we took our tent, and stayed at Ship Creek RV Park close to the downtown area. For those of you who have an RV, let me say that you do NOT want to stay at Ship Creek! There is very little space between sites and they are almost all back in sites. It is also on the flight path for a nearby small airport…and our tent was about 20 feet from the railroad tracks. Having said all that, we did have a pretty good time since we were only at the campground between 9 PM and 8 AM. There were only a couple of trains during those hours. Here’s a shot of the park…
Unfortunately, the best RV park in Anchorage is being turned into a Target store. Folks around here say there just are not any recommended parks in the Anchorage area. The nearest is in Palmer or Wasilla.
On Monday we drove down to Whittier, a small town on the western shore of Prince William Sound, to take a glacier cruise. There is only one single-lane road into Whittier, which goes through a two mile long railroad tunnel. On the hour the road is open for about 15 minutes for cars leaving Whittier. Then it’s open for trains for 15 minutes. On the half hour, the road is open for cars going to Whittier. Then the trains come again. And so it goes from about 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. When you are about half way through the tunnel, you see a very bright light right in front of you…and, if you are lucky, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel rather than the train!
We saw lots of glaciers, but not much wildlife. After all, it was a glacier cruise, so we were not too disappointed. There were lots of waterfalls; probably more than 100 on the four hour, 50 mile cruise. Here’s a shot of one of the glaciers.
It’s hard to appreciate the scale of the place. These glaciers are huge. Look carefully…see that boat in the lower right of the photo…just below the spray from the waterfall? That boat is about 100 feet long. So the iceberg just in front of the glacier is longer than a football field…and the front face of the glacier is about 400 feet tall.
Another of the eight or ten glaciers we visited that day. It’s also about 400 feet tall at the face…where it meets the water. Unfortunately, we did not see any dramatic calving on this trip.
We had two other great adventures while we were in Anchorage. On Friday, the day before we went to see the bears, it was rainy, so we went to the museum. While we were wandering around looking at the artifacts and paintings, my cell phone vibrated. I discreetly answered it and it was Paula’s sister, Bev, calling from Ft. Lauderdale. Bev related that she had just gotten a call from Paula’s cell phone, from a woman who had found the phone in an Anchorage parking lot. Bev said the woman was at the Anchorage Museum. So, I called Paula’s phone, and the woman answered! She said she was in the Museum lobby…I said “I’m walking toward the lobby now”…she said, “I see you!” So we got the phone back.
The other notable event was a reunion with a friend I had not seen for 38 years. Back in 1969, I was working at the University of South Florida. A new Dean of Instructional Services came to USF from the University of Alaska, in College, Alaska. His name is Ted Ryberg. He was only in Florida for a year, but we became friends during that time. He missed life in Alaska so much that he moved back in 1970 and we lost touch. When we started planning our Alaska adventure, I thought I might see if Ted was still around. I perused the Univ of Alaska web site and found that he was the Dean Emeritus. I found a person in the current Dean’s office who had an e-mail address, so I sent her a note explaining my objective…and she sent me Ted’s current address in Anchorage and his e-mail address. So, to make a long story short, I contacted him…and we had a nice dinner in Anchorage. 80 years old and still kicking…it was good to see him again.
Tomorrow (Thursday, 7/26) we’re off to Valdez…where the adventure continues.
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