Drive to the Lower 48 – Day 2

Victory Bible Camp to Valdez
Saturday, July 25, 2009
After a beautiful morning walk down to the lake,
Back to Lower 48 - Day 2
(and that early morning moose sighting)
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we got another early start since we wanted to get to Valdez by the end of the day. It was ”new road” all the way – and some of the prettiest road we’ve seen. (I know, I know – you’re thinking, here come all those superlatives again, and the trip is just starting. I’ll try to show some restraint!). Let us just say we know why it’s called “scenic” –
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Our first stop of the day (well, except for a pull off with a view just too beautiful to take from a moving vehicle!), was the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. While it’s not very well known (at least I had never remembered hearing about it), it is the largest National Park. Four major mountain ranges meet in the park and they include nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States. It also has the largest subpolar icefield, Bagley Icefield. It’s pretty impressive, but unfortunately, you can’t actually get to any of these places (unless you are a young and strapping hiker/adventurer – or can afford a helicopter!), but we did want to stop at the visitor center and see about one of those great 12 minute videos. Not only was there a great 22 minute video, but we were privileged to see the start the second to last leg of the longest wheel chair and hand-cycle race in the world. The bikes were swarming around the parking lot (a little un-nerving when you are driving a big ol’ RV), and eventually settled into groups for that day’s leg – 56 miles! And believe me, they weren’t in Kansas anymore! We had a chance to chat with one of the competitors and he shared that the youngest competitor was only 25 and she had lost her leg in Iraq. The fastest hand cycler in the world was there too. It was so inspiring as we cheered them on to victory.
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We took the nature walk around the area, enjoyed a nice al fresco lunch in the parking lot and then continued on. We were told the drive to Valdez was one of the prettiest in the state – and we think they might be right.
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Apart from mountains and glaciers and other Alaskan wonders, there was also this 7 mile hill from the top of Thompson Pass
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(Those big poles along the side of the road help the plows in the winter to FIND the road.)
down to Keystone Canyon.
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Yep, it was right up there at the top of scenic drives!
Once we made it to Valdez we re-connected with Pete and Ellen, parked right along Valdez Bay and enjoyed the afternoon.
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Gary and Ellen gave fishing a try
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but with no luck. This is prime Pink Salmon season and the fish were jumping left and right all around their lines. Hmmm…I think they needed some different lures. We enjoyed watching the other fishermen’s successes and even got to see sea lions playing out in the bay. But the big excitement came after dinner when the area had a visitor –
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See those fishermen? They were oblivious to the bear until just then (even though lots of folks were yelling at them). They left behind their four freshly caught salmon – and the bear sure enjoyed them! He continued down the shoreline until he worked his way closer to those blue buildings. It was fascinating to watch him catch fish (especially since there was a chain link fence between him and us) –
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But since the blue buildings house the local salmon hatchery, his chances were pretty darn good to catch something. Can you see all the fish in the water around him?
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(And now that you see just how many salmon there were in this area, you can feel Gary and Ellen’s pain for not catching a thing!)
It was a great day – beautiful drive, fun time with friends, and getting to watch a bear go fishing!

Day two – made it to Valdez – 209 miles. Too many pictures to admit to!

PS – there are OODLES of more pictures of this day, but my internet connection is SOOOO SLOOOW I’m going crazy trying to get them formated for your viewing pleasure. 🙂 If you would like to see more, the whole Day Two set is HERE.

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