Kelly's 2011 Alaska Journey

Day 23 - Sunday, 6/12

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Morning report:
The job of copying photos is done for the moment, and after 3.5 hours of sleep (and a couple more of resting awake in bed) the laundry is done, and soon I'll be out and en route to Seward after running a couple of small errands. The road to Seward is known as one of the most dangerous in Alaska- But fear not, that's only during the winter when it's icy. Today is balmy and clear, so it should be a beautiful ride. Speaking of dangerous rides, I was later told by an Alaskan that the road from Valdez to Anchorage is quite dangerous too- Not because of the road itself, but because it's so beautiful. Many cars and RVs crash into things (including motorcycles) because their drivers are paying more attention to the scenery than they are to the road. It seems that my taking the ferry from Valdez to Whittier was a good idea for more than one reason.

Evening report: The day started well (despite the sleep-deprivation). I skipped breakfast, got my laundry done, returned the memory chips to my tour mates, packed up, then headed to Seward. Not, however, before stopping at the little local store to get some things, and running into Vic and his wife there. Nice. One of my stops was REI, where I picked up some sandals for the boat ride. The thought of wearing motorcycle boots for the entire ride just left me cold. Fuzzy bunny slippers could work, but there wasn't time for such frivolities. Sandals would have to do. Besides, they'd be useful after the ride. Too bad they weren't on sale as the person helping me had said they were.

Road to
Seward
Waterfalls
abound
Pretty
drive
It was a balmy day in Anchorage, so it seemed prudent to depart wearing climate-appropriate gear- summer gloves, no electric clothes or overpants. In fact, the jacket liner was in, and it was miserably hot. While in the store, it had stuck to me. Speaking of weather, the southern parts of Alaska got warmer than I'd expected- even warmer than I'd have liked at times.

Like a
postcard
That assessment, however, would change in a rather short time. Like at Prudhoe, as the road descended in elevation, it got colder. MUCH colder. It would have been a good idea to stop and put on all the warm stuff, but Seward was only a little further...

Down the
Kenai Peninsula
It was quickly clear that the increased traffic experienced from Cantwell to Anchorage yesterday was no fluke. The road was full of RVs and other tourists, who felt compelled to drive 5-10 miles below the speed limit. It's understandable wanting to take in the views, but there are pullouts for that.
I like
this shot

As for me, I was cold, and had places to be. With a number of creative passings (no doubt witnessed by the helmet-cam), I was past the slowpokes. Can helmet-cam photos be subpoenaed?

Have I mentioned that the scenery to and from Seward and Whittier was amazing? I truly don't think that one could tire of it. While many times in the past few weeks I've had the thought that it's almost as if one's riding inside a postcard. I don't think I've expressed that thought in the blog until now. It may sound trite, but this place seems somewhat magical.

Seward
Seward
Back to the ride: At one point it felt that the fingers of my gloves didn't contain my fingers- They contained ten little Otter Pops. Still, it wasn't long until the KLR swung into Seward. It's fairly cute, and has some nice scenery, but it wasn't as quaint as say, Skagway. Because of this, staying in Seward didn't seem the thing to do. After a surprisingly spectacular lunch of tomato-basil soup and salmon sandwich with Havarti Dill sauce (at a Greek restaurant, oddly), it was time to head to Whittier.

Visible
glacier
Road to
Whittier
$12 please.
It wasn't long before reaching the toll booth to the one-way train tunnel. Naturally, I had just missed the crossing in my direction, so I had a 45 minute wait until the next time. But all was not lost- It was easy to occupy the time chatting with the toll booth person (who, by the way, has been here seven years and is actually tired of the scenery) and taking photos of said scenery.

KLR at
tunnel
Having no thesaurus handy, I find myself having trouble coming up with accurate and yet under-used adjectives when describing the views. "Spectacular," "amazing," etc. have all been used too much in this blog. At some point you readers will become desensitized to these descriptions. I can almost hear you saying: "Yeah, Kelly, we know, it's pretty up there."
While I may be repeating myself in the description department, I'd like to impress upon you one thing: Even though this scenery is something I've been watching for weeks, there's truly no other way to describe it without resorting to those "over the top" words. This place is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Even though some of the photos are pretty good, they can't really do the landscape justice. When you can stand in-place, turn 360 degrees, and see continuous natural beauty, even good photgraphs are inadequate.

View at
tunnel
Tunnel to
Whittier
Anyway, the tunnel: This time through I switched the helmet-cam to full HD video mode, and filmed the entire passage through the 2.5 mile tunnel. Naturally, there was no problem in passing through it- After all, I'd just handled the Dalton and Denali Highways! What problems could a little tunnel cause?
To an inexperienced rider, plenty. There's a gap between the rails and the platforms between the rails and to the outside of them. If a motorcycle were to drift to those gaps, the front wheel would instantly get wedged between the unforgiving rail and platform, causing an IMMEDIATE flip of the bike over the front. Ouch. This is why the tunnel people insist that all the 4-wheel traffic complete passage before a motorcycle goes. They don't want to have a bike crash hold up most of the traffic.
But I won't have that problem.

My first two stops in Whittier were the Ferry terminal (which was closed), and a little cafe which serves a truly memorable salmon spread on bagels. I'd had one when arriving here from Valdez, and I've been looking forward to having another. Now, If I can only get a few and sweet-talk the chef on the ferry into letting me have some space in a fridge... :-)

Inn at
Whittier
Having changed my ferry reservation from Haines to Whittier, I had no hotel reservation, But fortunately the nicer "Inn at Whittier" had rooms available. The room was a little pricey, but I decided to splurge a bit. After all, this was my last night in Alaska. Well, the last night not on a boat in Alaska! After snapping up a room with a mountain view and unpacking my not-too-dry laundry, I headed to the bar for some Alaska beers while I wrote this entry. Inevitably, the conversations with the locals ensued, and I got some tips on where I should have breakfast and dinner tomorrow.

Tomorrow will start with a quick check-in at the ferry terminal, and then a glacier tour.

Total riding distance today: 220 mi / 354 km   Running Total: 6197 mi / 9973 km

Stay tuned...

-K

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