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Trip Report Part Two of an 18 Day RV trip - Valdez

Friday, August 15 (Day 6) – We woke up from hearing the rain on the RV roof at 4:15am...what is wrong with us, we are on vacation! So once you are up ... you are up, and besides it light outside. We drove the 260 miles to Valdez, crossing the 154 mile beautiful Glenn Hwy. The weather was rainy and at times foggy, but the scenery was still nice. Had a hearty breakfast at the Eureka lodge (home of the $.25 coffee) ... at milepost 128 on the Glenn Hwy, and used our own hot sauce acquired in Talkeetna from the Roadhouse. The best part of the drive was at milepost 130 Glenn Hwy just after leaving the breakfast stop when a big beautiful female (we assume ... no rack ... did not personally ask) moose ran out from the left side of the forest right in front of our RV. Rick had to break to avoid hitting her. She ran down the road a few steps and then disappeared quickly into the forest to our right...no time to take photos.
We reached Bear Paw campground on the harbor in Valdez at 12:30pm, so tired! We had actually reserved three nights at Bear Paw II, an all-adult smaller, separate park. Our site overlooks the harbor, truly amazing. We paid a bit more for this park, $45/night, but worth it. There is a stuffed moose in the Bear Paw office, it is so adorable. It is a 1996 Mountain Moose by Big Sky Carvers (no longer made), so we went on the internet and found a smaller version of the moose on E-Bay. We made an offer and bought it for $35 plus shipping.
Took an unlimited hot-water shower and then a refresher nap. Then took a long walk around a really small town, including along the harbor where fishermen were bringing in and cleaning their catch. Continuing chilly rain, but we countered with hot, spicy Ramen noodle soup that we doctored up with egg, sliced pork, and lettuce!

Saturday, August 16 (Day 7) – Rain, rain, and more rain...actually it was a steady drizzle. Walked around town a bit, talked to the guy in Tourist Visitor Center, and then went to Safeway to pick up some fresh parsley and celery to make green rice and Chinese sausages (we brought them with us) for lunch. This town actually has 1 real grocery store...not cheap, but well-stocked!
Later in the evening around 6pm, we went to the Solomon Gulch Hatchery (about 9 miles away) to do a self-guided tour. The internet said they close at 7pm – apparently not so, since when we got there around 6:15 it was closed. However outside the hatchery we saw thousands of salmons swimming up the fish ladders to spawn and then die. Saw many seagulls feasting on some already dead fish, and we also saw four sea otters feasting. One of the fellows we met earlier came and told us that there was a bear on the side of the road about 200’ from us. We rushed over, sure enough, a black bear was
catching fish next to a small waterfall, threw a couple fish on the side and start tearing and eating them. Then went to some bushes to finish off his meal with a dessert of what looked like raspberries. We were so excited, this is our first bear sighting - he was only about 25 feet from us, across a small stream. According to the people around here, best time to see bears is during low tide. Tomorrow low tide is around 1pm, so we are planning to go back and catch the hatchery and perhaps some more bears.
We had dinner at a burger joint (pretty good “gourmet” burger and fries) near our RV Park, since we were hungry and Rick didn’t feel like cooking.

Sunday, August 17 (Day 8) – Laundry day! Right here at our park ... $1.50 to wash, took 2 drys at $1.50/each. We went to the Hatchery again around noon; low tide is at 12:50pm today. Visible are thousands of dead salmon around the Hatchery ... the smell was almost unbearable. The Hatchery was not open (Sunday!), we might try it again tomorrow on our way out of town. We went back to Safeway to buy coffee cream and more snacks, then picked up some locally caught shrimp (recently frozen) at a packing house that Pat had eyeballed the day before. Came back to the RV Park to chill. A little before 4pm we noticed that the rain had stopped (I actually saw a rain poncho for sale in a place that had a sign on it that said “Valdez Sunsuit”). The Weather.com had said that the rain will last until Tuesday, so this is truly a nice surprise. We bundled up and headed out to explore the town without the rain.
Valdez is a small town, population about 4,000. We walked up to the Viewing Trail near the “Convention Center”, and the view was gorgeous. We then walked
to the harbor watching fishermen coming back on their boats with their catches – mostly Silver salmon. The halibut boats did not go out the past couple of days because of the weather. The centralized fish cleaning station is interesting too – the cleaning crew uses sharp knives to fillet the fish, throwing the heads and the bones down a chute where the seagulls hover around to pick at the discards.
We saw the pipeline on our way into town, but it was raining so hard, we did not stop to take any photos. We will try tomorrow if the weather holds. We bought a pound of the local Spot Shrimp; Rick cooked half of it with butter and garlic (the rest for another meal). It had a different texture from the tiger shrimp that we are used to, but was delicious non-the-less, however not sure it was worth the $23 we paid for the 17 shrimp.

Monday, August 18 (Day 9) – We went to the Hatchery in the morning, and watched the processing as they scooped up the salmon, sorted them, then sliced them open to get the eggs. It was quite sad watching the processing. Did not see any bears today. We were on the road to Palmer around 9am. We stopped at 11am at Fireweed Café, a restaurant on the Glenn Hwy. We wanted breakfast, but they stopped serving breakfast at 11am, and the only thing on the lunch menu was hamburgers, salad, and tomato soup. We walked out. Next door to Fireweed is the Caribou Gift Shop, and we loved browsing it since the quality of goods at this gift shop was phenomenal. We bought a couple of really nice Christmas ornaments. We were telling the store clerk about the Fireweed Café, and she said her favorite place to eat was the Tok Thai Food Truck a couple of miles up the road. Our eyes lit up, we love Thai food. We went over to the food truck, ordered two items, one fried rice and one spicy vegetable beef rice. Everything on the menu is $10 each, unless you want shrimp, and then you add another $5. Both dishes were great, especially the spicy beef rice. So we ordered another spicy beef rice to go, which will be dinner.
A long drive and we arrived at the Big Bear RV park in Palmer/Wasilla at 3pm, too tired to go into town. This camp ground has a bbq area with two large gas bbq grills. We have a couple pounds of Korean-style three-bone ribs that we picked up in Anchorage when we stocked up at Fred Myers, and marinated them with packets of Korean marinade, and then cooked them on the grill for consumption tomorrow. This is perfect, that’s easily two meals with easy preparation via microwave reheat!

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