Below is a view from our campground. Bayside Campground. The campground is a little spartan, but the bathrooms are huge and the hot water endless. It's a small city and everything is close. The whole economy revolves around the end of the pipeline, fishing, and tourism.
I'm having a great time here in Valdez and I'm sure Helen is too. Yesterday was such a great day with ample sun and warm temperatures. Before midnight I had my fish at he processor as they are open 24/7 when the salmon are in. Naturally I was elated to finally luck into some good fishing, so getting to sleep was not easy last night. Then, I had to get up early to catch another glacier-wildlife tour.
This is a small picture of a very nice boat harbor. We found out that the F/V Northwestern was in port yesterday. This is one of the boats featured on "Deadliest Catch" with Sig Hansen. Neither he nor his boat could be seen today.
On the way to the glaciers, we passed a few boats using purse seines to catch the abundant pink salmon. There is a special hatchery across the harbor from Valdez where they raise and release about 150 million young pink salmon every year. It makes for a great economic fishery and allows a lot of sport fishing also.
All along the water's edge from the city of Valdez to the glaciers and everywhere in between, there are waterfalls where the snow we can't see is melting or the rain from the last few days is collecting or something. In any case, these small streams and falls were everywhere.
Here is my traveling companion, apparently enjoying the trip.
We could not actually get to the first glacier, Columbia. Columbia slid to the ocean creating a deep fjord and pushing a wave of moraine debris in front. The glacier has now retreated over ten miles from the moraine deposit, but the a boat cannot get to the glacier. Since it was a very deep glacier, the icebergs calving off have a great mass. The moraine deposit comes to within 40 feet of the surface, but since the icebergs draw a lot more water, they drift to the moraine line where they become grounded. Between the moraine deposit and the glacier it's like a lake. On the seaward side of the moraine there are ice chunks by the thousand, but the giants are stuck on the shallow spot. I thing the ocean side of the moraine goes down to 1000 feet or more.
One of the crew is showing us a piece of glacier ice that's hundreds of years old. It is so clear because over the years, the pressure has squeezed any air out of the ice.
This is the face of Meares Glacier, yet another from the same ice field. This is taken through the windshield of the boat. This is the first tour that we've been on where the passengers are welcome in the helm. It was very interesting to me.
Another picture of the glacier face. This glacier is over half a mile wide and two to four hundred feet high. Unlike Columbia Glacier, Meares only extends about fifty feet under water.
In such a bleak environment one would expect to see little signs of animal life. The opposite is the truth. Seals, sea lions, sea otters by the dozen, pods of Dahl porpoises, humpback whales, bald eagles, water birds and more. Though we didn't see them, the captain assured us that the woods adjacent to this waterway has deer, moose, black bear and more of them too.
These two otters were watching us as we watched them. They are here in great numbers because there is so much food for them in the form of crustaceans, starfish, sea urchins, and mussels.
On the way back in we caught these two young sea lions taking it easy on one of the security buoys marking the boundary of the Valdez Oil Terminal. Since 9/11, the Coast Guard is wary of anyone inside the boundary.
And here is the famous oil terminal. Not too impressive to me. I expected several super tankers being filled at one time. Instead, only one tanker was being filled and it was not of an impressive size.
We met a local family on the cruise and we got a LOT of useful information. Their oldest son is a member of the crew and the family was aboard with his visiting grandmother from So. Carolina. The mother had a lot to say about what to see and do in Valdez. Also, where to get the cheapest gas and diesel. To me, the most interesting gems were told to me by the younger son, who told me just where I should be fishing. Turn right at the ball park and just drive behind the park on the dirt road. It takes you to a river where fly fishing is required. It didn't take me long to stop by and check it out. It looks perfect! There were three locals fishing there and they were catching fish on flies. They claim that tide is not important since the place is upstream and I can't wait to stop again tomorrow.
We'll be spending a few more days in Valdez as there as there is so much to do (fishing).