Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fishing in Valdez

Yesterday we got up at 0 dark thirty to go fishing.  Oh wait, it wasn’t dark because it never gets dark here.  At least I’ve never seen it dark.  Anyway, we had to get up at 4:30 IN THE MORNING in order to go fishing at 6:00 IN THE MORNING!!!  It was raining too!!  Of all the days we’ve been here we picked the worst one to go fishing.  I filled up with coffee and a breakfast sandwich and off to the marina we went.  Our Captain wasn’t there yet but showed up soon and off we went.  There were 3 others besides Rod and I.  Ed, our friend, Hannah, a local Alaskan who won this trip in a drawing last year, and Larry, another Alaskan from Fairbanks.  Since we were going 70 miles out past the Prince William Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska it was going to take 3 hours to get there.

Leaving the marina


The scenery was still quite beautiful


The water was pretty rough and the wind was COLD.  As soon as we anchored in our spot Ed put a line out and almost immediately caught a HUGE halibut.  Steve (our captain) estimated it to be about 100 pounds because it was about 60 inches in length.  That’s how they guess the weight.  Steve had to bang it on the head with his little Billy club because a fish that big would flap all over and potentially could harm someone.




Ed put his line out again and again had another halibut.  Not quite as big but a keeper anyway.  Ed had already caught his limit of two.  We thought we were going to have a fantastic day fishing.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case because for 2 hours we fished this spot and nobody caught a single fish.  So Steve took us to another spot.  This one was WAY better!!  We were catching fish after fish after fish.  Poor Rod though was only catching tiny 15 pounders and had to throw them back.  My first one was pretty small and had to be thrown back also.  But the next one was about 40 pounds and definitely a keeper!!

One of the many little ones Rod caught


My first ever halibut I caught.  He threw it back  :(

By the way, Steve didn’t get any awards for his personality…


This one I got to keep!!  Yes, it really was that cold!


Everybody got to keep two fish each.  Ed, Rod and I decided to combine ours and split it up between us.    We ended up 106.9 pounds so Ed & Mary Jo got 53 pounds and Rod and I got 53 pounds.  They do everything for you here.  They filet it, skin it, freeze it and ship it if you want.  We’re shipping 25 pounds of it to Kebra to keep for us until we get back down to the lower 48 (don’t I sound like a local?).   We still have salmon to catch so we need room in the freezer for that too.

After fishing for hours it was time to head back





Mary Jo was waiting for us


Our total catch of the day


Our fishing buddies


Jim was great to filet ALL of our fish for us!!



Mary Jo had a big pot of chili waiting for us and boy did it ever warm up our cold, cold bodies.  After having dinner we headed home and slept until 9:00 this morning!!!  Today we have to go pick up our bounty of fish and off to the grocery store.  I think tonight’s dinner will be, hmmm, let’s see….

Friday, June 25, 2010

Exploring Valdez

Yesterday we decided to get out and explore Valdez.  We are in the new part of Valdez because the old part was destroyed in 1964 by an earthquake and a tsunami.  It was the worst earthquake ever in North America.  We saw a movie about it in this little store in town.  I guess they sell the video there but she had chairs set up and the movie was playing over and over along with the story of the building of the pipeline.  Both were very interesting.  When the town was declared condemned the people had 2 years to relocate to the new section that had been built.

We went out to find the old part of Valdez.  There were signs guiding us so it was easy to find.


Click on the picture to read this sign


Mary Jo is checking out where the Post Office used to be


This was a photo of the Village Morgue bar back then


And here it is today


From there we went to the old cemetery.  This has nothing to do with the earthquake or the tsunami.  It’s just the cemetery where the townspeople were buried in earlier years.




From there we went to the location where the Pipeline ends.  This is where the oil is stored until it is put on the tankers.  There were lots of signs telling us we couldn’t go any further.



From there we headed for the Valdez glacier.  This is the glacier that the prospectors used to get into Valdez.  It’s hard to believe they actually made it down that glacier.  What you can’t see in the picture is the other half of it.  It turns to the right just below that hill with the trees on it on the left


This is where it ends



The ice looks like crystal and is very fragile


We left there and decided to go to the town dump because that’s usually where the bears hang out.  Well, you have to actually schedule a time to use the dump so they can make sure the bears aren’t there when you are.  LOL.

It was a very dusty road.


Ed just can’t believe it!!


We ended our evening where we seem to end it every night.  At the marina.  The boats come in and clean their catch so we always go to see what everybody has caught.  Tomorrow it will be our turn to catch some fish.  We booked a charter for all day from 6 am (!!!) until 6 pm.  OMG, I can’t believe I keep getting up so early for these things.  Ed is going on the same charter but Mary Jo gets motion sickness very easily so she’s not going.  She’s in charge of breakfast.


We also decided to stay here in Valdez a little longer.  We’ve extended our stay until Thursday when we’ll take the ferry over to Whittier and then drive over to Soldotna.  The ferry may not save us any time or any money on fuel but it will be an experience that we wouldn’t have had if we drove through Anchorage to Soldotna.  There is only one road into Valdez and we’ve been on it.  The bad thing is that we have to be at the terminal with our 5th wheel at 7 AM!!  Yes, that’s AM!!!  Uggghhhh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Valdez, Alaska

Today we left Glenallen with beautiful sunshine.  It was a very nice day to travel.  We were hoping for no more bad roads like we had the last two days.  It started off good but soon we saw the dreaded orange signs.


It turned out to be not too bad


We got our first glimpse of the pipeline.  The Alaska Pipeline was constructed between 1975 and 1977.  It starts in Prudhoe Bay and ends 800 miles later in Valdez pumping oil along the way with the help of 12 pump stations.  It’s owned privately by BP (46.93%), ConocoPhillips (28.29%), ExxonMobil (20.34%,) Unocal (1.36%), and Koch Alaska Pipeline Company, (3.08%) forming the company known as Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.


The scenery today was absolutely amazing.  We climbed over Thompson Pass and there was still plenty of snow on the ground.



The waterfalls were pretty amazing too and there were LOTS of them.  This one is called horsetail falls

This one is called bridal veil falls (seems there are A LOT of falls around called “bridal veil”).


This is Worthington Glacier.  It was gorgeous!!


You can even see the blue tint in this picture


This one is for you, Dortha.  These are called Lupine and they are a cousin of the Texas Bluebonnet.  Cool, huh?


We arrived in Valdez early in the afternoon At Bear Paw RV Park and found we have smokin hot wifi and cable tv so I’m a happy camper (literally).  We took a drive to the local grocery store and found out it’s a Safeway!!  Again, a happy camper.  Before we did that we checked out the fish market and came away with a beautiful piece of red sockeye salmon and some halibut cheeks.  We took our provisions home and then set out to check out some fishing charters for us.  We found out the salmon aren’t running here yet but the halibut fishing appears to be excellent.  There is also rock fish, sea bass, and others that I can’t remember.


We walked down to the marina because we saw one of the fishing boats coming in.  The limit for halibut is 2 per person and each one of them caught 2 a piece.  Nice!!   One was REALLY big at 96 pounds!!



The 96 pounder


This guy filets all the fish for them.  How nice is THAT??


Not sure what’s on the agenda for tomorrow.  I might have to do some unfun stuff like laundry.  It’s just one of those things that has to be done.  Gotta get it done before Ed & Mary Jo get here!!

I just love this little town.  It’s a little fishing town and everything is right by us.  We’re right across the street from the marina.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice in Alaska!!


Today is the longest day of the the year.  From here on out the days of sunlight will be getting shorter.  We haven’t seen the night sky since we’ve been here.  We go to bed when it’s light and when we get up it’s light.  We’ve resorted to putting dark towels on the windows and that helps some but haven’t figured out what to do with the skylight in the shower yet.  I may yet resort to using the dreaded tin foil on that.

We left Haines Junction yesterday with the plan to stay in Beaver Creek just a few miles short of the U.S./Canada border.  This had to be the worst roads we’ve encountered on this trip so far.  There were LOTS of frost heaves, LOTS of gravel roads and LOTS of dirt roads with potholes everywhere!!  We were going about 20 mph in most spots and were still getting our teeth jarred.  My jaw was SO sore last night just from gritting my teeth.  When we finally stopped for the night and went inside there was a layer of dust on EVERYTHING.  It ALL had to be swept up and wiped off.



The dusty road


You can’t even see the car in front of us


We still saw amazing scenery.  This is Kluane Lake


We did see our first grizzly bear!!


He actually ran away from us!


When we arrived in Beaver Creek we didn’t like the looks of the RV Park so we continued down the road just a bit.  We saw a place called Buckshot Betty’s so thought that would be a good place to eat lunch and decide what to do.  We had some things that were considered “contraband” for crossing the border.  We decided to just go for it and use the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  It was nothing major, just things like bagged salad, tomatoes and potatoes.  The Customs Agent didn’t even ask about those.  All he asked was if we bought liquor in Canada (we lied) and if we had any citrus fruit (nope) and if we had any firearms (nope).  “Have a nice day, folks and enjoy your visit to Alaska”.  Easy Peasy.



After leaving the border crossing we thought the construction mess was over but we were SOOOO wrong.  Again, more dirt roads, more gravel and more potholes!!


The first campground after the construction mess was the Border City RV Park.  It had a large gas station so we fueled up and asked about the campground.  It was $20 for full hookups with Wifi so we paid and went to our site.  OMG, this place was a dump!!!  The sites were incredibly uneven and had boards with nails in them laying around.  There were only 2 other rigs here that weren’t part of the Highway Construction crew.  There were potholes everywhere.  We decided to go ahead and stay since it was only one night.  During the night it rained pretty hard so this morning when we got up it was a HUGE mud pit.  We were really glad to leave.

Today we left the mud pit and headed for Glennallen.  We had been told by our friend, Mary Jo that it was a nice park so we were really looking forward to that.  Of course we first had to go through MORE road construction.  The only thing different from yesterday is that today it was raining!!  OMG, we have a TON of mud!!  Again, frost heaves, dirt roads and gravel with lots of potholes.  Luckily, I had secured everything inside and none of the cabinets came open.  I used bungee cords and Reilly’s hair ties.  Not a single thing got broken.



It’s going to take a week to get all this mud off the truck and rig.  Trust me, it’s a LOT worse than it looks!



We stopped for some pictures of the Copper River Valley.  All I can say is, again the scenery is amazing!!



Today we saw a black bear and a fox but they ran away so fast there was no time for a picture.We also saw a bald eagle and a golden eagle but they were pretty far away even with my lens.


Tonight we’re at Northern Nights RV Park in Glennallen.  Mary Jo was right.  It IS a nice campground.  They even have free dessert every Monday and Friday.  I don’t think we’re going to go though.  Again, it’s raining!  The plan is tomorrow to head for Valdez.  Maybe we can even try our luck at catching some fish!!