Valdez is a little town about 120 miles out of the way, but worth driving to. It is the place where the Alaskan pipeline finishes and oil is then shipped to the lower 48. It is also on the stunning Prince William Sound, which interested us more than the pipeline.
We spent our first night about 40 miles from Valdez at a little free camping area. In the morning Luke noticed a man standing at the front of the truck, eventually I went out after he stated calling out “hello”. Turns out their truck had broke down and they wondered if I had cell service. Laughing as I pulled out my old flip phone we offered them a ride instead. With tears in her eyes the lady said she was so thankful, but who wouldn’t have helped this adorable couple from Mississippi with their matching bible camp t-shirts?
When we could understand their thick southern accents we enjoyed the company up over the Thompson Pass and through the Keystone Canyon. Arriving in Valdez we dropped off our passengers and set off to find bears. We found plenty of salmon fighting to return to the fishery where they were born, but the bears had obviously had their fill for the day, along with the sea lions, seagulls, and eagles (although they were all still hanging around).
At the visitor centre we saw that one of the museums in town was free (sadly a rarity) so we decided to check it out. It was one of the best we’ve been to, with amazing taxidermy and beautiful crafts collected by Maxine Whitney. She would fly into remote northern villages to buy crafts and find artefacts. It was an amazing collection.
We camped that night in the deserted Old Valdez, the site where the town had been before a large earthquake in 1964. It was a beautiful night, Luke caught and released 4 big spawning salmon (our freezer is still pretty full) and we watched the sky change colour again.
The next day we hiked up to a reservoir lake overlooking the town and later biked out along the Mineral Creek road to see the spectacular green valley and waterfalls. It was another hot, sunny day and we were happy to be out taking advantage of it. We crossed back into the Yukon after being in this part of Alaska for 25 days. There is more of it to see, if you take the ferry down the inside passage, but we’ve decided to save this trip for another time. Across the border in Beaver Creek we went into the visitor centre where after a few minutes a lady showed up (presumably from the pub across the road). She entertained us with stories of gold prospecting and life in this tiny town. The people that we have met in the north have been friendly and genuine, and have made our travels so much more interesting.
We’ve now spent the last 2 days mainly driving. We had anticipated that much of our journey north would be spent behind the wheel, and now we face a long stretch of road that we have already travelled to get back to a road that leads south. If you look at a map you will see that there is not actually many routes to Alaska! But we are now looking forward to exploring northern BC and all it has to offer.