Day 54: Valdez, AK
Sunny and cool, with very calm waters.
We overnighted along Dayville Rd., down from the hatchery. Tom got up early to fish. He had no luck today, so we prepared to go to Wrangell-St. Elias. We had lunch at the food truck “Nat Shack” in Valdez. Great halibut taco. It reminded me of Cosa Sabrosa in Saline. I miss that place.
I thought Valdez would be very touristy because everyone told me how beautiful it is, and cruise ships stop there, but I did not feel it is a commercial town. The surroundings are beautiful: glacier-topped mountains all around, except at the small, distant inlet to the bay. There are some nice restaurants and fishing charter shops, etc., a great library and two museums.
Valdez has quite a history of misfortune. First it was a trail to gold, but there was no gold at the end of the trail in Copper Center. Then the earthquake and tsunamis of 1964 destroyed the town. Then, the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled its contents in the Prince William Sound just outside of Valdez. But today it is a favorite of visitors to Alaska. And a favorite of mine.
Even though Valdez was not experiencing the wildfires in other parts of Alaska, because of the surrounding mountains, smoke blew in the bowl and stayed there, making a haze which dimmed the beautiful mountain view today.
We went to the office of the hatchery and had some questions answered about why they were hatching so many pinks.* We learned a lot more about the role of salmon in the circle of life.
We saw lots of sea otters and seals where Tom was fishing. We watched both eat fish, and the kittiwakes go after the fish the seal was eating.
One more thing about Valdez: it has a rabbit problem. In the evening all these rabbits come crawling out from who knows where and are hopping all over town. I googled the issue and no one can really explain how the rabbit overpopulation began. They come in many colors. It was kind of creepy. Way more rabbits than I’ve seen anywhere!
*Pinks are one of the five types of Alaska, or Pacific, salmon: Chinook (King), Coho (silver), Sockeye (red), Humpy (pinks), and Chum (dog)