Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seward to Valdez

Portage Glacier

Downtown Whittier

Colombia Glacier

I planned to take the ferry from Whittier to Valdez which proved to be a good choice. To get to Whittier you pass the Portage glacier and the associated info centre. The glacier has retreated quite some distance since 1911 when its terminal would have been at the info centre. You also have to pass through a long combined road & rail tunnel. There is a $12 fee for this and the bikes go through at the end of the car packet. They have obviously had some problems with bikers falling off or something because they give you a special bikers brief on how to ride through the thing. Contains helpful hints like 'don't ride on the rail lines' and 'remove your sunglasses'.
Whittier is the oddest town - there are almost no houses. Everyone lives in one or the other of two condos. There is an abandoned military 'condo' in town that tends to dominate the landscape. There were RV's everywhere but little sign of any tourists.
The ferry had only 28 people for the trip and there was a US Parks Service person on board giving a commentary. The captain took us off course to see the Colombia glacier, the terminal of which exits to sea. Sea is full of baby ice bergs from the glacier.
Arrived at Valdez at 8.30pm and stayed at the Eagle Nest RV park. 163k of riding today and the 6 hour boat trip was a nice relief from the constant riding.