Seward and Valdez

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Seward is a nice, small, town, with more of a working-class flavor than Homer has, which is more oriented toward Halibut fishing.

The town was heavily damaged in the 1964 earthquake.  The resulting tsunamis took out the docks and the railway terminal, both of which had to be rebuilt.  One of the tsunamis moved a railroad locomotive the distance of 19 blocks inland, and most of the boats in the harbor as well.  The area of the town also dropped about 5 feet in elevation as a result of the earthquake.

When they rebuilt, they converted what had been the dock area to a campground, which, as you can see in the picture above, is right on the water.  I must confess to thinking about what would happen if there was another earthquake while we were there.  The fee to camp in the campground is about $10 per night if, like us, you don't need hookups.  There is a special area for "caravans", which are organized tours of a bunch of motorhomes and trailer rigs traveling together.

Being right on the water gives really nice views of the scenery.  Below is a cruise ship backing out of the docks.  There is a lot of cruise ship activity there, with a new ship coming in just about every night, usually from a different cruise line.

Below is the yacht Jupiter, registered out of Southhampton, England.  I estimate that it's about 90 feet long, and has to be priced in the millions of dollars.  We saw a crew of at least three aboard.  One evening, a party, presumably the owners, came aboard, and the yacht departed from the area.  Nice boat.


Above is the Portage Glacier, probably the most visited glacier in Alaska.  It empties into a lake a short drive south of Anchorage, making it very accessible.

Valdez is the town in Alaska that I liked the most.  It's small - most of the town is easily walked to.  The harbor there has many interesting boats, including the one above, and the one below, which is a barge-type houseboat.  The houseboat has a pair of moose antlers mounted on the front.  I've often thought about building something similar, if we ever decide to live on boats rather than land, to use as an office, study, and library.  We refer to the concept as "the book barge".

One of the campgrounds in Valdez advertises that 28 glaciers can be seen from its premises.  During the winter of 1989-1990, the town of Valdez got 46.5 feet of snow!  Not many harbors have the kind of view which can be seen in the picture below.

Below is the truck in the campground right by the harbor.  Nice view.

I left Valdez going eastbound, toward the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  I didn't make very good time, because I kept stopping to gape at the scenery.  Wrangell-St. Elias is home to nine of the 16 tallest mountains on the North American Continent, and the Bagley Icefield, the largest subpolar icefield on the continent.  The Malaspina glacier, just one of many which come off that icefield, is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Below is an example of why I kept stopping.

Copyright 1999 by Linden B. Sisk
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