We awoke to another bright, sunny day with blue skies and light cloud scudding over the white topped jagged peaks surrounding Valdez.Wished we were staying longer but it was time to move on and head north up the Richardson Highway to our next destination after filling up with petrol (for driving) and propane (for cooking and heating).While we were filling up at the petrol station we hit upon a strange sight.A wee van - decked out as a colourful cafe - had pulled in for propane , and the driver happened to be an extremely round woman with extremely colourful clothing and glasses shaped like ice-cream cones - she was the local ice-cream lady!We would have loved to have taken a photo but .........
After leaving Valdez we climbed steeply up into the mountains and were rewarded with absolutely spectacular views.Reaching Blueberry Lake, about 24 miles out of Valdez, we turned off the road to head into the State Recreation Area only to pull off the road after 100 yards because piles of snow were covering the road and we weren't sure how we would manoeuvre Fanny if it was worse further on.Nevertheless, we managed to retrace our steps a short way to stop at the other side of the lake (which still had a deal of ice coverage) for a quick coffee and a chat to a lone guy fishing for grayling from his kayak.
The road headed up and up to nearly 3,000ft from where we headed down to the Worthington Glacier.This has receded significantly - it used to come right down to the Richardson Highway - and was an interesting sight. From there we continued north and following a chat with the woman in the NPS booth at Worthington, were considering whether to turn off toward Chitina and the Wrangell-St Elias National Park. During our planning stage we'd wanted to spend some time in this NP but we didn't get any responses to our enquiries.We therefore altered our plans and thought we be giving it a miss.So, now was our chance and we decided to take it.The scenery changed to a more expansive country as we headed north and then turned right for 33 miles towards Chitina. Fanny was now rattling somewhat as the state of the road was worse than before and we stopped at an vantage point after a 'bang' from behind. This turned out to be a cupboard door that had opened so we were able to benefit from the stop to see Mount Wrangell in the distance, at 14,000 ft Alaska's most active volcano.
As we neared Chitina we came across some interestingly named lakes,About 3 miles out of town we came to 3 mile lake and a mile later, another lake - can't recall its name.The final one a mile further on was called - guess what?!? Whilst on a zany note, when we popped into the Anchorage tourist office 10 days ago, we heard an American woman asking - 'can you tell what time the moose come into town?'We turned our heads in amazement as if these natural events are so accurately timed.
Chitina is a cluster of buildings mostly surviving from its time as a mining community that ended in the late 1930s. Only a few buildings survive and a short walk around showed us the old Chitina Hotel, Spirit Mountain Artworks and the Emporium.We had another good blether with a lovely woman looking after Spirit Mountain where we bought some Raspberry Rhubarb syrup. This was after a stop at a local campervan which was a coffee/ice-cream 'parlour'. We had another fine blether to the coffee lassie and her mum who, like many we've met up with, are really interested in Scotland. We should also mention that most Alaskans recognise us being from Scotland - it is a refreshing change for some experiences we've had.
We hummed and hawed whether to stay in Chitina (and whether the USA v England World cup match would be on the telly) and tried out a campsite at the other side of the massive Copper River.However it was much so much dominated by fishermen that we decided we'd be out of 'plaice'. We therefore headed out of town to make as many miles as possible today and shorten tomorrow's journey. Heading north once more, we pulled into a view point to have a last look over Mount Wrangell. Looking over the lake directly below, E said 'is that a large beaver in the middle of the lake?' to which M put her binos to her eyes and exclaimed - 'no it's a moose!' Really it was a moose and it was swimming across a huge lake, probably cutting off a long journey around either end - probably done this journey many a time. We watched while it completed its swim and then it walked through the shallows and out into the bush.
After that it was a short haul up to Glennallen where we pitched for the night. We dined on delicious leftover paella from Pepe's Alaskan Bistro in Valdez.
E & M x