04 August, 2009

Visiting Valdez

Instead of camping this weekend, Sheri & I decided to take a road trip to Valdez. It's a 5-6 hour drive, but we had a great time visiting along the way. Only stopped twice - once for construction and once for a bathroom break. Hit town around midnight on Friday and woke Sara up to get our room. I'd already contacted Sara and told her that "we" would be coming to visit... but didn't mention the "we" was Sheri & I instead of Greg & I (he was on call and scheduled to put in the new windows we bought, so couldn't go). Surprise! Well, she kind of guessed since she'd heard that Sheri's in Anchorage, but she was still excited. =)

Sara had to work for a while Saturday morning, so Sheri & I headed to town to get coffee and breakfast. I've been to Valdez several times already, and it's gorgeous. It never ceases to amaze me that they're surrounded by such grandeur on a day-to-day basis. I wonder if, when you're surrounded by such beauty every day, people get inured to it and forget to notice? I'd be tempted to try it for a while and see, except for the winters. I don't know that I want to deal with snow over my head and tunneling to work. (I realize that's probably exaggeration, but I don't know that I want to find out for sure...)

When she was done working, we collected Sara in time for lunch and then wandered the town for a while. It's a small town, so it didn't take us long to walk from lunch to the festival booths and back - which covered most of town. But it was a nice walk and a chance to work off a little lunch. From there, we headed out of town to the waterfalls. There are lots of waterfalls in and around Valdez. Two of the most prominent are along the roadside, on the way in to town (Bridal Veil and Horsetail Falls). They're always pretty, and I try to get pictures there every time I'm in that neck of the woods.

On the way back in, we stopped at the fish spawning station. It's a viewing platform above a stream where salmon come to spawn. It was pretty interesting to see - we also went in the ranger station to see the fish live on the underwater camera.

After that, we decided to trek out to the old gold mine. Greg, Sara, Jeannea, & I went there years & years ago - and I thought it'd be a nice hike (working in some exercise!) with pretty views and lots of photo ops. As we headed back in, I was glad we were in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. One lane bridges, rutty roads, and small streams couldn't hold us back!

In the end, we didn't get to the old mine. About 10 miles in, we found that a bridge had washed out. Probably from the extreme flooding that happened a couple years ago. No way even my car could cross. So we parked and explored the immediate area, which included another nice waterfall. Drove back to town for dinner (excellent Chinese), then rented movies to spend the rest of the evening relaxing and visiting. The company was *great*, but the movie left plenty to be desired. Oh well.

Breakfast together Sunday morning, and then it's time to hit the road. Only one full day, but it was packed with beautiful vistas and - even better - good company. I wasn't sure I'd make it to Valdez this summer, since we didn't go to Squirrel Creek for our 4th of July camp out. So it was worth the quick trip in order to have two of my sibs to spend some time with.

On the way in to Valdez, we went through the pass in the dark. By leaving for home after breakfast, we hit the pass in broad daylight (and we'll make the goal of getting home before 5pm). It's fantastic. It's almost like you're standing on top of the world.

We took the car for a little off-road jaunt, and got a lovely view of the river valley above. Breathtaking.

An evening of driving, a day of fun, another long drive and then we're home - and Dave is in town! He actually arrived on Saturday, but I didn't know for sure when he was coming and we were already in Valdez. Anyhow, Sunday morning with Sara, the lovely drive with Sheri, and the evening with Dave. A great way to end the weekend.

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