Before I start, I have to give credit to Ben Brilhart for the pic of the puffin I’m using as my featured pic (above). I had a hard time deciding since there were so many great photos this week! Read on and I share all the best ones!
So, we left off last week, literally, on our ride to Glennallen. We had stopped for the night at the Eagle River Fred Meyer, a grocery store.
The drive to Glennallen was very nice – gorgeous scenery and SUN! And blue skies! There were still some clouds, but the nice white puffy kind, not the dark, rain threatening kind.
We did have a weird thing happen in the rig on the way to Glennallen that I’m going to share to maybe help it from happening to someone else. When we arrived, Bill hooked up the water and realized he heard water running somewhere, which he shouldn’t have. He entered the rig and realized our shower was on – weird! We keep our hampers in the shower (just remove them into the bedroom when we shower) so all the clothes in there got soaked! UGH! He quickly realized the culprit was a soap container came down out of the shower caddy and must have knocked into the water handle on its way down, turning on the water! So – I had an unexpected load of laundry to do! Lesson learned – take everything out of the shower caddy when towing!
After a short “what is this week going to look like food wise?” chat, us girls headed to the liquor store and the local IGA. It was so nice to have some girl time! Tracy got carded at the liquor store and we learned why – I mean Tracy doesn’t look old but she is clearly over 21! Seems that some people in AK have their driver licenses marked in some way that they aren’t allowed to buy alcohol! None of us had heard of that before! Alcohol and drug problems are huge up here and it’s one way the state of AK has chosen to deal with it. Wonder if it actually helps?
We enjoyed the rest of the day and into the evening – we were able to eat dinner outside! We had yummy chicken (thanks Lee!), steamed broccoli, and roasted potatoes (thanks Tracy!). We actually had dessert first – red velvet cookies – courtesty of Bridget (Tracy had the dough in the freezer from when she and Lee visited her a while back) (you also may remember Bridget from one of my February posts – Bill and I had dinner with her one night while we were in New Orleans!) and I quickly whipped up some cream cheese frosting! They were YUMMY! Thanks Bridget! We just love how our whole RV Dreams family stays connected!
After dinner we had a FIRE! First time in a LONG (too long) time! We sat out with our wine til it was almost dark (keeping in mind it still doesn’t get fully dark until the middle of the night)! What a perfect ending to a most awesome day!
The plan for Sunday was to have a relaxing start, coffee and cinnamon buns (thanks Jo & Ben!) and let Tracy & Lee pack up (something they haven’t done in months!) – we were going to Valdez! New territory! Some place new!
Tracy & Lee were just about ready; Bill decided he wanted to fill up on fuel. We drove up to “the hub” on the corner – what a crazy busy place! The plan had been Tracy & Lee and Jo & Ben would come up the road and we would pull in behind them and we’d be on our way. Tracy had a bunch of stops planned along the route of things to see. Didn’t quite end up that way. We had synced our walkie talkies so we could communicate on the ride and as we pulled away from the pumps, we got a call that Tracy & Lee’s brakes and lights weren’t working – ut oh! We headed back, hoping for an easy fix – but there wouldn’t be one. Took the 3 guys a good chunk of the afternoon but we (Tracy, Jo & I – sitting at a picnic table out of the way!) finally saw the blinkers and brake lights! The pull-check confirmed the brakes were also working! Just like that – it was time to go! We did have to pull over for a quick tweak a bit later on, but all was good! YAY!
The ride down to to Valdez was beautiful, In spite of the clouds. There were areas that were more bumpy than others, but overall the road was ok. We made a few stops to see things, again, in spite of the rain/clouds.
We arrived at Valdez Glacier CG, a military CG that allows the public also. The sites are large and have lots of screening. They are so large that Jo & Ben decided to share our site! We set-up right across from Tracy & Lee. It was dinner time by the time we were all settled in, and we enjoyed a delish meal of pulled pork that Tracy had made ahead of time.
The following day, after yummy biscuits and gravy, bacon and pancakes, out we went to see some sights! Bill & I and Jo & Ben decided to also stop at the local museum to learn some Valdez history.
Later on, after dinner (hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and salad), we headed back to see if we might see some bears feasting on salmon. Someone had told Tracy the best time was mid-tide, but I think when we were there the tide was out. No bears, but we did walk over to the fish hatchery to see that.
Tuesday was Tracys BIG 50! She had picked going on a glacier cruise for her birthday – so we took advantage of an offer in the TourSaver book – a 7 hour cruise with Stan Stephens. We arrived on time for the required 10am check-in, and then hung out til they started boarding at 10:30. Exactly at 11am, we were underway. The sun was peaking out a little bit, and clouds were higher than the previous day, so we were all hopeful none of the predicted rain would fall!
The crew served us our lunch of hot clam chowder (Ben opted for the veggie Minestrone), bagel with cream cheese and Oreos for dessert. The bagels were more like round bread, but the chowder was good and hot, a nice choice considering the chill in the air!
The mountains were all around us as the captain (who looked about 12 years old!) steered toward the Columbia Glacier. We started seeing ice chunks in the water, some were fairly small, some were real iceberg size! Captain Ben told us about the glacier as he dodged the larger pieces, and pushed through the smaller ones.
We spent some time at the face of the glacier, snapping pics, in awe of it. This glacier is not as high out of the water as the other one we saw, but much wider. The crew told us at the highest point, it is only about 200 feet above the water, but about 600 feet below.
Next stop was Bullhead Point, where Stellar Sea Lions were lazing around and Puffins were buzzing about.
We were disappointed not to see any whales, especially after a lady who had gone the day before told us they saw many orcas. Wild life that is truly wild is kind of like the weather, we get no control, they go where they go and sometimes they are where we can view them, sometimes (like our day out in Prince William Sound), they aren’t.
For dinner that night, we enjoyed chicken fajitas, with the cheesecake Tracy had chosen for her birthday cake. We were all stuffed! Happy Birthday Tracy!
It was time to pull up jacks, dump our tanks and head out in the morning – we had another glacier to get a close up view of! We lined up for the drive with Jo & Ben in the lead. The clouds were higher and sun was more visible, so we were hoping for some better views on our drive out.
Before heading out, we decided to have our lunch, while still able to see the glacier. Can’t beat that view!
We got all set-up back at Northern Nights by about 3pm. Plenty of time to chill before making Tracys “official” birthday meal of king crab and steak! She borrowed a pot from her boss so we could more easily steam them, and we had 2 grills going with steak and chicken. I made enough salad for everyone. Needless to say – it was all delish! Thanks for treating us to the crab Tracy & Lee!
Lee started a fire and we sat and chatted til about 10. It has been a long few days, but every minute was wonderful – spent with great friends – celebrating a special time!
Today Bill and I have a long drive back to Seward. I’ve been asked a few times now if we are still enjoying our time there or are we ready to move on. It is difficult to answer frankly. We generally don’t stay put this long, since we have been full-time RVers, so part of me has a bit of hitch itch, as we call it. The other part of me is thinking “how can we ever be ready to leave this amazing place?” Where do we go after this? Spending this summer in AK is the fulfillment of a life-long bucket list dream – and its come true! How does one get ready to end that? I know as the weeks continue – I will “get ready” because I have family to see – and that will motivate me to “get ready”. I can totally understand how people come here and never leave (bear in mind I haven’t seen a winter), as AK is a magical amazing place! Would I return? You betcha! Might take awhile, as there are so many other places we haven’t discovered yet back in the lower 48, but it will be hard to not come back to this final frontier.