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Wednesday July 17, 2013- Anchorage to Portage Valley

Alaska fact- State bird is Willow Ptarmigan

We left at about 10 to drive south on Hwy. 1 to Anchorage, dumping out tanks before we left the park. We passed through the city and continued south along the scenic Seward highway. This was a two lane road, between the Cook Inlet/ Turnagain Arm.  The road runs along between the water and the mountain. We saw the most traffic we have seen since we left Colorado!

We stopped at Beluga Point, 16.7  miles south of Anchorage to look at the water, mud flats and to search for Beluga Whales. No luck finding any whales today.

Beluga Point

Everywhere we saw signs about the mud flats. There were numerous warnings in the Milepost book about the flats. At low tide, the mud flats look inviting. There are two problems. First, this area has the second fastest tides in the world. They can rise 33 feet in a short amount of time. Second, the flats are glacial silt. They may seem firm, but with movement and vibration, they liquefy , causing the person to sink in quicksand. The person then drowns in the mud when the tide comes in.

Mud flats on Seward Hwy. 

The way that the person is rescued, is that the 911 personnel get out around them on boards, and with hoses, put water down around the persons legs, then pull them out.

As we continued south, we passed 4 police vehicles and two medical examiner vehicles. Guess that someone did not pay attention to all the warnings!

We could see a number of glaciers in the distance. We turned left onto the Portage Valley road and went 1.7 miles to Portage Valley RV Park. We pulled into the park. Margie, Wayne and Cindy were already camped here, but they had left and gone sightseeing.

Glaciers on Seward Hwy.

\Glaciers on Seward Hwy.

We added water to the motor home, and parked. We have a nice big site on gravel with 50 amp, but no other services for $39 per night! Expensive….

We ate a quick lunch of leftovers, then drove back north on Hwy. 1 to Girwood. Girwood was heavily damaged in the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. There is a small mall with services on the highway, but the actual town has moved inland. All of this area dropped 8 ft. in the earthquake and was destroyed with the following tsunami. The town of Portage was abandoned and never rebuilt.

We drove up to the Alyeska Ski Resort.

1-DSCN1559

We parked and took the Tram to the top ($17 ea., summer senior rate).

Alesaka Tramway

The view was nice, but I would never have wanted to ski here.

View from top of Alyeska

Top of Alyeska

Top of Alyeska

They do get a lot o snow in this area, but the trails are very steep. We wandered around a the top of the Tram, then rode back down. We went into the gift shop in the hotel and then continued south again.

Top of Alyeska

We stopped at the Portage Valley Visitor Center and picked up some brochures, then continued on to the Portage Glacier. We stopped at the Salmon Viewing area. We had stopped here in 2005. No salmon running at this time. According to the signs, they are still returning to the entrance to their spawning rivers/creeks, and will not be running until August.

We went out to Portage Lake and could see one of the glaciers, but it was not Portage Glacier. Portage is around a curve, and you can only see it from the Portage Lake cruise, which was $34. We are taking the 26 glacier cruise tomorrow, so we skipped this cruise.

Glacier

We returned to the National Forest Visitor Center, where we used our National Forest pass to enter the exhibits and to watch the movie.  Below is an ice berg from the glacier which had calved yesterday.

Glacier calf

We returned to the motor home, ate dinner, and went over to the campfire. The park has a large building with an evening campfire. We sat talking to Margie, Wayne, and Cindy, plus other park visitors.

We returned to the motor home and watched a movie. No TV here, we are in the valley between the mountains and Anchorage.

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