The drive down south to Valdez was scenic and pleasant. Trans-Alaska oil pipeline is visible from Highway 4 for quite many miles all the way to Valdez. It zig-zags across the landscape. The oil from this pipeline is loaded to onto ships at the Valdez oil terminal.
About 20 miles approaching Valdez on Highway 4, there are many beautiful waterfalls of various sizes. If you see cars stopped on the side of the road, just pull away. Very likely there are wildlife or spectacular waterfalls.
Valdez is a fishing port, both for commercial and sport fishing.
We were here for two specific activities:
1) to do the famous 10-hour seakayaking and to get lost in the maze of icebergs in Prince Williams Sounds.
2) To do sport fishing.
They are all pricey, but those experiences were just PRICELESS.
We chose to stay at Blessing House Bed and Breakfast so that we could do some cooking. To our suprise, as we strolled around the town on our first day of arrival, we were drawn to a place where the fishermen were busy sorting, cleaning, filleting their catch. They practically threw away fish they deemed small (not small to me though) and also the fish eggs. We were allowed to take them home when requested. They became our dinner, in addition to some vegetable we bought at the local grocery store. I was very amazed at how expensive a fish (halibut/salmon) is at all restaurants we had frequented in Alaska. The cheapest would still be $15 and above. One would have thought the price should be lower when the supply is so plentiful.
The distance between Valdez to Seward is about 550 miles, taking us about 10 hours with one night stay in between. Highway 1 from Glennallen to Palmer is very winding and could be dangareous. Any misturns might send your vehicle off the cliff. However the drive on Seward highway was a completely different story. Heralded as a National Forest scenic byway, the drive on the 127-mile Seward highway run south from Anchorage to port town of Seward is beyond pleasant. It parallels the track of Alaska Railroad most of the way and crosses the Kenai Peninsula before reaching Seward. We pulled over so many times for photos. Personally, this is the most scenic highway in USA. Yes, even better than the view on Route 1 Pacific coast highway in California.
We came here for three activites:
1) Viewing marine life with Kenai Fjords Tour.
2) Hiking on Exit glacier.
3) Viewing spawning salmons in Grouse Creek, a small stream that runs adjacent to the Seward Highway just outside of Seward.
The Exit Glacier hike is the best hiking experience I ever have, even after my hiking trip in El Chalten, Argentina. The overlooking on Harding Icefield at the end of the trail was speechless and surreal. If opportunity presents itself again, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I respect salmon greatly after this trip, even though I still am a salmon eater. They play a key role in bringing nutrients from the ocean back into rivers and the wildlife community. After spending years in ocean, these salmons can somewhat smell their way from the ocean back to their specific birthplace, which is a river/stream/creek. They die within two weeks after spawning. Their decomposed body feed the hatchlings and the wildlife community. No words could describe the astonishment of seeing the ten of thousands of salmons overcoming all sorts of obstacles just to swim upstreams for spawning, even knowing the preyers, the bears, are waiting upstream. Quite a God given ecosystem.
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