Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Alaska Road Trip: We took our first sightseeing cruise in Valdez!

When we were in Anchorage the week before last we picked up an Alaska Tour Saver coupon book from Carr’s. It was one of the items that most of the people we talked to about Alaska said we had to pick up. This book contains coupons for thousands of dollars in savings for events, activities and lodging all throughout Alaska. At the price of $99.00 (less for the app or online), you can recoup the expense pretty quickly.
After leaving Chitina we made our way back on the Edgerton Highway with stops at the Liberty Falls State Recreation Site to see the waterfall on Liberty Creek and of course we had to stop at the Yak farm for a glimpse of the elusive Tibetan Yak!

A Yak doing whatever Yaks do
 It was raining and we were both exhausted from the Root Glacier hike and Mill Tour the day before so we only went about 30 miles before we pulled over for the day at an abandoned state recreation area with about 15 sites along the Richardson Highway. Two of the outside sites would fit pretty much any size rig while the ones in the inner circle were pretty tight. We were the only ones there and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon reading and listening to the rain on the roof.
The next day we continued our journey to Valdez. The ride south was again very scenic, we never get tired of seeing the snowcapped mountains and waterfalls!

A railroad tunnel that never quite got finished
Bridal Falls

Horsetail Falls

Once we reached Valdez we saw right away they knew Barb was coming and put out the welcome sign!

Sure enough, we saw this guys slipping into the weeds!
Of all the towns we have been to so far I think Valdez is probably our favorite. It is surrounded by mountains, has a really cool harbor and the town has a really nice vibe to it.

I caught me a Dog Fish!

Looking through our Tour Saver book we saw that there was a 2 for 1 on the Stan Stephens Wildlife & Columbia Glacier Cruise. We booked tickets on the cruise for the following day. The 7 hour cruise is normally $130/person so the 2 for one made it really reasonable. The wind was blowing and it was somewhat chilly but Barb and I found a nice spot on the bow of the boat where we remained for most of the 7 hours and got some fantastic photos.

We saw one whale tail, large group of porpoise, sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, puffins and of course the Columbia Glacier.

The sea otters were cool and somewhat playful as we cruised by them.


We had never seen a Puffin before
The porpoise were really quick, in fact a little quicker than my shutter finger. These are the only shots I was able to get of them.

Besides the scenery, one other thing struck me as incredible on this cruise. Often when I am hunting the back country or exploring the bush country of Ontario I will wonder when was the last time someone was in the spot I am right now. 100 years ago? Last year or maybe even yesterday, you never really know. However on this cruise we had boated somewhere no one else has been in a boat. We had a perfect day for approaching the glacier and the captain was able to maneuver the boat as close as she has ever been to the glacier. She informed us that we were the first boat to have ever boated in that spot as we were where the glacier was last year. Granted there are about 100 people in the boat and next year as the glacier recedes they will again boat in new waters but it is pretty incredible to think about in this day and age.

Sea otter on an ice drift






Some of the icebergs were huge!

That wall is over 300' tall

There is another tour boat on the right side

We were bumping ice all the way in and out....

Another huge iceberg
Then it was time to head back to the harbor....... 
There guys were lazing on a marker buoy
When all of a sudden the big guy fell off!
Back at the harbor
All in all it was a great day and a cruise we would highly recommend.

The next day we made our way to Anchorage, but not before stopping by the Worthington Glacier along the way.


We also stopped and spent a few hours fishing for Reds in the Klutina River. There were even fewer fisherman then when we were here a week ago. I talked to a guy who I recognized from last time we were here and he said it continued to be slow. Nonetheless, we spent a few hours on the river and I finally caught one! Unfortunately, it was not big enough and Barb was in the camper so…. no picture.
On the way to Anchorage Barb checked RVillage to see if any of our friends were in the area. It just so happened that George and Nancy were in Anchorage so we made arrangements to get together with them the next day. After spending the night at Cabela’s we set out to complete our chores for the day which included stocking up on groceries as well as hitting a few local shops that we had Tour Saver coupons for “Free Gifts”! Don’t waste your gas money driving to get these free gifts, it is pretty much just crap that they could not get rid of.
Cabela's, by far the most expensive place we have ever stayed!
We had also heard that the King Salmon were running so we headed to the river to check that out. We had too much going on to do any fishing but we wanted to check it out. Although fisherman lined the banks all day we found out that the kings really only run two hours either side of high tide.

Chores completed and groceries put away we headed over to George and Nancy’s for happy hour. We spent 4 hours catching up and comparing travel plans.

Nancy was an art teacher for many years and has a studio in their motorhome where she makes pendants and earrings and sells them on Etsy.  Her business is Passionately Primitive and she has some really cool pieces.  Barb ended up getting a pair of earrings made out of etched copper.

We had a great time and it looks like our paths will cross again in about a month when we both plan on being in Denali.

Before hitting the road the following day we stopped by the Anchorage Zoo using another Tour Saver 2 for 1 coupon. This is probably the worst zoo we have ever been to and even though it is only $7.50/person with the coupon I would not recommend it. There were only 5 animals that were picture worthy.......


Next up, we make our way to Homer hitting a bunch of small towns along the way. It is hard to believe that we will be in the ferry to Kodiak Island in less than a week!


  1. Great pictures and commentary as usual. Safe Travels :)

  2. That was such a fantastic boat cruise! I love otters and the puffin was so cute:) But those icebergs were magnificent! I love when you can see the blue in the ice:)

    1. The blue ice is really cool, the only thing we did not see that I wished we would have is ice calving off the glacier.

  3. That moose looks like the Cool as a Moose guy from Bar Harbor, Maine with those shades!

    I've thought the same about being places, Jim. I'll bet some of those northern Ontario footsteps of yours are the first ever taken by a human.

    1. Unlike northern Minnesota where the moose population is declining, there are so many moose up here! It is really cool to see all of them.

  4. Glaciers and otters....so cool!! Looks like you guys are doing it right!! And love me some good coupon books!!!

    1. I think we could watch otters all day while they swim around, play and do otter things.

  5. Was the lady Captian hot? Great pictures. Thanks for letting us travels with you, it brings back our memories from 2014.

    1. You know the commercial with the Swedish bikini team? Ya, our captain looked like that. You will have to drive up to dins out for sure!

  6. Great times but that boat ride was very cool, no pun intended). Going through the ice might have freaked out the non swimmer in me however LOL!!

    Dave & Diane

    1. You could tell some of the tourists were a little nervous bumping through all that ice. There were a few Titanic comments in the crowd.

  7. Glad you liked the cruise. We are going to try that on my birthday. You guys are making good time :)

  8. Awesome pictures of the mountains and glacier's. Thanks to all of your pictures, Lisa says I do not have to go to Alaska now. So keep them coming. Maybe you could photo shop me into some of those cutouts for the real effect.

    1. It is definitely not "Lisa weather" up here, lows in the 40's, highs in the 60's although it did reach the high 70's when we were in Anchorage the other day.

  9. I think we'll be doing the cruise in Valdez, looks like great memories are being made.

  10. It's amazing how much the temperature drops when you approach those glaciers. Did you get to have a Glacierita?

    1. No Glacierita this time but we are hoping to have one later this year!

    2. Help. We are traveling to AK with our dog Maggie how do you handle the border crossings, it sounds like it might be difficult. I know we need some sort of health certificate but is it travel time critical.

    3. No health certificate needed but you do need to bring your rabies paperwork, they will check that the Alaska border for sure and sometimes at the Canadian border. The Alaska border will also ask for your vehicle/trailer registration so have that handy.

  11. Great pictures like always thankso for sharing