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Wednesday, August 3 - Valdez Harbor

Today, our son Brady's birthday.  Tomorrow, our daughter Fiona's birthday.  Happy Birthday, you two!

We made it today to Valdez about 3 pm, and it's cool and raining again. But not to bad to get to do some walking around town and watching the fishing boats come in.  What a view from the small boat harbor! There's a town festival here this weekend called Gold Rush Days, then there's a cruise we would like to take, and mail that will be delivered later this week, so we will be here for a few days.  The tour of Columbia glacier will have to wait until the weather gets better.





Thursday, August 4 - Valdez Museum

Rainy and cool today, again (47 degrees in the am, and climbed to a balmy 57).  Still, we went to a museum, hung out, did laundry, walked, internet, etc.  Slow but not boring.

Valdez Harbor

We also got to take some great pictures besides some fish! The "silvers" are running now, and of good size as you can see with Patty.







So far for the Derby, the record Halibut is 325 pounds, and the silver salmon near 16 pounds.  There will be about $80,000. in prizes for the biggest catches.  They also caught some sharks today!







There is lots of snow in Valdez in the winter, and they have some very serious snow removal equipment. On Thompson Pass just outside of town, they had 80 feet of snow last year, and 47 inches one day!







Friday, August 5 - Columbia Glacier Cruise



Yea!  The clouds are lifting, and we decided to book the cruise to the Columbia Glacier.  We saw some beautiful scenery.  We  saw sea lions frolicking in the water - swimming, diving, somersaulting.  So much fun.  Also sea otters - curious looking creatures. Lots of icebergs and harbor seals on the ice near the glacier.  We did get to see Columbia calving several times. It was frrrrreeezing cold near the icebergs and glacier!








The cruise was from 12 to 7 pm.  As if we didn't get enough excitement, we came home and ate then went to the town game night where there were playing family feud - very fun.





Saturday, August 6 - Gold Rush Days

That's the view just outside our door where we parked for the night yesterday.

Today, we got into the Gold Rush days.  We started our day with a blueberry pancake breakfast with bacon, sausage and coffee at the Eagle hall.  Yummy!  The Air Force band (the same group we saw in Soldotna) was playing at the Museum, where today there was free entrance.  We saw some great quilts, old fire equipment and pictures of early Valdez.   Time for ice cream. This was followed by several short films on the Alyeska pipeline, the new double hulled oil tankers, and the 1964 Alaska earthquake at the Prince William Sound Community College.  After an international food fair supper at the Elks Lodge, we finally wandered home.  Include today several long conversations with other tourists.   Ed is now entering pictures into the website program, and Patty is trying to clean our mess.  We're way too busy to stop and organize our stuff!



Sunday, August 7 - Valdez Parade and Fish Fry

Slept late , attended a nice church service at the Bay Area Community Church, then went over to the open market area.  There was a man there who was selling pieces of mica schist with olive-sized garnets imbedded in them.  The rocks came from the Wrangell mountains in the southeast of Alaska, accessible only by boat or float airplane and boat.  We acquired a piece as well as some placer copper and antique ivory (walrus or mastodon).  We thought it strange that there was so much mastodon bone in Alaska, but these are unearthed frequently in gold mining operations. Did lots of visiting with local  people and visitors, then stayed for a motorcycle stunt demonstration. A parade followed.  That's Smokey the Bear, followed by a rather small Coast Guard vessel equipped with two machine guns and two 225 hp engines.  Also a yellow airport fire truck (ever see one of those?). Then the town treated us to a free fish fry (salmon, halibut, cole slaw, potato salad, pasta salad, cookies and drinks). Let's hear it for Valdez Gold Rush Days!



More flowers before we left. It was a great day, sunny and about 70 degrees.  We finished up, and decided to move on north towards the Fairbanks area. Driving until about 8 pm, (still light until after 11), we parked on the side of the road overlooking Willow Lake, just south of the town of Copper Center.  Big copper mines in this area in the past.

If it had been clearer, we should have seen the three tall peaks of the Wrangell mountains (including Mt Sanford that we saw in June).



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