Tuesday, August 5

Hark! What light through yonder window breaks?

We're in our room in Anchorage, and look outside the window to see something we've not seen for a few days:


Since we left Tok, it's been rather gray and gloomy. There's been some rain, but thankfully it's not really been when we've been riding. The worst it's been was on the ride through Thompson Pass into Valdez.

I cannot begin to tell you how much that sucked. Cold. Wet. Misty. And then foggy. Pea soup foggy, so bad that my visor misted up. I lost Keith's taillights in the fog, and had to pull over. The reptile brain started a minor (ok, ok, major) freak out, but the rest of my brain had no time for it. I turned on the four ways, and headed down. It felt like forever until it cleared up enough for me to see Keith up ahead. From there it was an easy descent past a lovely waterfall into Valdez and a warm shower.

Soooo tired of being cold. Right after the warm shower, we headed to a local outfitters and bought long underwear and wool socks. Now I still get cold, but it takes longer.

We stayed in Valdez two nights, giving us the day to go on a cruise around Prince William Sound. Even the gray chill of the day could not take away from how gorgeous that spot is. Captain Amanda got us in quite close to the terminal moraine of the Columbia Glacier...it's quite a feeling to be going that slow among ice chunks that big, feeling them thump against the side of the boat as it edged it's way closer. The blue of the ice is quite startling, and the sound of the ice popping is like hearing the snap crackle pop of your morning cereal.

After the glacier, the cruise took us around an island where Stellar sea lions congregate and puffins nest. A pair of humpback whales, a cow and her calf, surfaced a few times and gave us a show. A quartet of Dalls porpoises played with the boat, racing out along the bow, crisscrossing and surfacing.

A pretty damn good day.

I was a bit nervous leaving through the pass the next morning (Monday, I think, the days are running together), having decided i don't like fog AT ALL, but it wasn't too bad. It was a pretty uneventful run to Anchorage...cold, grey, gloomy but with amazing scenery.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Glenallen that had some pretty funny tee shirts:
Alaskan Men: the odds are good but the goods are odd.

Alaskan Highway Survivor. Out Drive. Out Bump. Out Spend.
Out bump indeed. Frost heaves and thaw bulbs do some pretty interesting things to asphalt, let me tell you. And out spend...good lord, we'll be paying for this trip longer than we anticipated. It's weird though; it's a place where a grilled cheese sandwich will set you back eight bucks (!) and yet my specialized hair product is two thirds the cost compared to home.

File it under life mystery.

Anchorage is bigger than we expected, and we took an extra day here to explore a bit. Today we went to the Ulu Factory and picked up one to take home, then we went to see the guys at AK Rider Motorcycle Tours for a bit. They have tours planned for next year that look intriguing...two weeks in Peru or India sound pretty damn interesting.

The highlight for the day was a visit to Ravens Brew Coffee. Keith called them in the morning, and even though we were informed that they were not retail, Nate, the Alaskan district manager, told us to come on down for a tour. He took about an hour out of his day and not only made us a killer cup of joe, but showed us around the roastery and loaded us up with coffee and swag. He's our new best friend *grin.

I am now the very proud owner of a Deadmans Reach Coffee tee shirt. The tag line is “served in bed, wakes the dead”. Oh so appropriate.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, and we're off to Delta Junction to Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. There will be a small stop at a musk ox farm in Palmer so I can buy a ball of what will likely be the most expensive yarn I will ever knit with, but after having felt how soft qiviut is, I have to have some. I have no idea what I'll make with it. Yet.

Route Maps:
Day 14: Tok, AK - Valdez, AK
Day 16: Valdez, AK - Anchorage, AK

1 comment:

Astin said...

I just learned more about muskox wool then I ever thought I would.

Welcome to the true North, where food is crazy expensive. I remember looking at a 6-pack of Pepsi in Iqaluit and being dumbfounded that I could buy a 24 of it back home for half the price.

Bear in mind - food has to be delivered fresh and promptly and if it's not eaten, it's a big loss. Hair products can come any old time and sit on a shelf without really going bad. The price difference is all in the transport and spoilability.

Funny - we use the "odds are good" line about men in Engineering too.

Safe journey home from Anchorage.