Sunday, August 7, 2011

Backcountry Adventure

I am writing this 3 days after it happened. We've had some long days, very fun. We drove out of Gakona on Sunday and the sun was coming out. I caught this picture of the sun's rays, which I always think is so beautiful.
Beautiful rays of sun from the clouds.

We decided to take a side trip to McCathy-Kennicut. We'd read about it and heard the ranger explaining a little about it to another couple. You have to take a 60 mile gravel road and then walk across a footbridge to get to it. The first thing the ranger asked the couple was, "Do you have a spare tire?" The road was not just gravel, it had potholes and "washboarding," which I'd never heard of, but now I know what it is. It's when there are ridges on the road, like old washboard ridges.
The road.

Me on footbridge.

The first bridge we got to had been a railroad trestle bridge before, It was a one-way wood bridge, very high above the river. Kind of scary looking. But we made it.
Picture of the bridge we drove over.

Randy's a good driver and did an excellent job driving this road, but I was a little nervous. Every so often he'd turn his head to look at something and I said, "Randy, I don't want to see the back of your head!" There were times he had to go 5 miles an hour, it was so rough. But we thought it was worth it. The town and the mine were very interesting.

McCarthy is a town and Kennicut was a big copper mine. The old buildings are cool. And the weather could not have been better. We had fun wondering around.
Hotel in Kennicut where we had lunch.

Kennicut buildings.


Me being the postmistress.

Power plant. Huge!

McCarthy main street.

I took several pictures of windows. I like windows. I like to think of people who lived and worked there looking out these same windows, and what they saw.
I like taking pictures of and through windows.

There was one little cabin open. Can you imagine living in that with kids and everything? They said they reserved the cabins for people who had a higher position.

Cabin for workers and families. Reserved for those of higher positions.

Me looking through the cabin window.

Cabin backyard. You'd have to keep a close eye on your kids here!

On the gravel road we kept thinking surely we'd see some wildlife; there were all these pools that looked perfect for moose, and it was such an untraveled road. But, no, we didn't see a moose until we were back on a "regular" road.

Then we started on our way to Valdez. It was getting late so I called Rose, the owner of the B&B we were staying in there. She asked about our weather and when she heard it was sunny she said she was jealous. On the way we saw a glacier near the road and I took a bunch of photos from the roadside and car, not knowing we'd actually be able to walk right up to it.

It was cool to see it so close up. As we got close I started smelling this fresh, sweet smell from a flower growing there. It felt kind of magical to walk up to a glacier surrounded by the scent of flowers. A woman we met later thought it might have been lupine but when I looked it up I didn't think so.
Flowers by the glacier that smelled wonderful.

We went through a beautiful pass on the way to Valdez. It was like a dreamscape -- green, lush mountains, clouds caught in the trees, and waterfalls.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We arrived in Valdez quite late, around 10 pm, because we stopped so often to take pictures. I had googled for directions to our B&B but they didn't seem to be correct. They said to go down "Blueberry Hill Road," which we did and the the B&B was supposed to be just .3 miles in. We didn't see any sign; just looked like a bunch of houses. I knew it was someone's house who let out the bedrooms, but we couldn't figure it out. We went back into town and found a restaurant that was opened. A guy waiting in line to go in told me that there were 3 long driveways on Blueberry Hill Road and one of them the house was a B&B. He was pretty sure it was the middle driveway but said, "Just go down all the driveways and one of them will be it." So back we went and Randy went down the middle driveway. It turned sharply and then there was no way to turn around so he had to back out, not an easy feat. He got pretty frustrated, muttering under his breath, etc. He kept telling me to call the B&B owner for directions and I kept trying but I got voicemail every time. Finally I started knocking on doors of the houses where lights were. One young kid answered and wasn't sure, he'd just moved in. When I apologized for bothering him so late he said, "No problem. I was playing ping-pong. If you guys want to play ping-pong later, just come on over." I knocked on the door of the house at the end of that sharp turn driveway and the woman there pointed to the lights of another house and said that was the one. So finally we found it.

Once we'd brought in our suitcases we went back to that restaurant for something to eat. We hadn't had any supper. Then I tried to find out when and where the glacier day cruise thing was where we'd have to go the next day. I had tried to have everything I needed about our itinerary on this one Google doc but I didn't put directions. I figured I'd look those up each night before. But we didn't know if this B&B had internet or not so I asked some of the workers about Stan Stephens Glacier Cruises. No one knew, but they had free wireless so I was able to find it on the iPad.

The B&B is very nice. Rose, the woman who owns it, is a sweetheart. She fixes delicious breakfasts, too. And there is wireless. :)


  1. I can SO appreciate your love of windows...I have the same thoughts, but I guess I do with everything really old. What has that piece seen in it's lifetime? Pretty cool to wonder.

    Ok, Randy maybe be a PROFESSIONAL driver, but there's not enough money to get THIS chicken over that death trap, oh I mean bridge?!

    "Randy, I don't want to see the back of your head!".....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH....MEN! I don't know when they are going to accept they weren't given the multi-tasking gene!

  2. I just read your post to my husband and we both got a good laugh about the ping pong kid. How funny! You should have come back and challenged him to a ping pong duel! :-)

  3. @Dre, yeah, crossing that bridge was something else. Did you see the photo of the airstrip? ( Randy thought you could fly and land there instead. :)

    @Emily, I know, pretty funny! I thought he must be lonely!