It’s been rainy all week, which has effectively withered any little love bud that was blooming in my heart for staying in The Last Frontier permanently. Sorry, Alaska. It’s not you, it’s me.
But this gloomy weather has reminded me of a trip Tyler and I took a couple months ago over to Valdez, a city pretty much straight east from Anchorage, over on the other side of Prince William Sound. We left Anchorage in clouds and a drizzle, and a few hours later we ended up in Valdez with clouds and a drizzle. That seems to be our vacation luck 50% of the time.
However, the overcast day really lent a dramatic vibe to our drive, the views out the window looking like someone had already applied a moody VSCO filter to our photos.
As we neared Valdez, we went through a valley with rock cliffs rising up closely on either side. An ice climbing festival had just concluded the day before so we saw a few remnants of climbers out grabbing as much rock time as they could before heading home. (And random fact: a group of our friends just returned from a summer rock climbing festival there a couple weekends ago!) We didn’t try any fancy moves scaling these cliffs ourselves, but we did hop out at one point to take some photos. It was stunning.. waterfalls frozen solid, snow up to my hips, blue ice everywhere.
We got to Valdez in the evening and checked into our hotel. We found we a decent view out our window, even if the mountains weren’t quite visible. We had a view of a Coast Guard ship! Valdez is the last stop on the oil pipeline in Alaska– oil goes onto ships from here– so the Coast Guard has a base here and is very active. I was fascinated by all the movement I could spy on from my hotel window. That ship was always full!
Also? Huge bonus. Otters. Otters in that water rightoutsidemywindow. (OMG!) Potentially the highlight of my time. We went out walking the next day and spotted more otters (!!) as well as lots more boats and lots more slush.
And then the drive back. All that snow and ice! No fluffy white flurries in Anchorage, but out here on our drive we saw the Alaska that we’d imagined, that we’d both encountered on the trips we’d taken here in years past. No matter though. We could always stop the car on the side of the road, hop out, and experience it at least for a moment this year! We even grabbed our skis and went down a hill on the side of the road. #makingdo
In the end, we realized we’d taken our short trip to Valdez at the worst time. Like many smaller Alaskan towns, Valdez is dead in the winter. And all the small museums that are open year-round were closed Mondays, which is apparently a popular day to close since that’s our our day off. Oh well. Lesson learned.. and passed on to you!
It was still a relaxing time of catching up on lots of television, taking walks in the brisk air, and having a shockingly good Peruvian meal at our hotel restaurant. (The ceviche was still not as good as yours, Dad!) But honestly the best part of our trip was the drive there and back. It’s an amazing drive to Valdez, and although it’s a popular route for tourists in the summer, there is something majestic about those views when you’re the only car on the road for miles, and the air is hushed under a heavy layer of snow and weighty clouds. Alaska may not be home forever, but she’s breathtaking nonetheless.