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Monday, June 17, 2019

Calves! no, not cattle

Friday we set out from Paxson Lake at 9am headed straight down the Richardson Highway for Valdez.  MOOSE!  At 11:30am, not 11pm, right along the side of the Richardson Hwy there was a little pond and standing in the pond was a MOOSE!  With nowhere to pull over, we had to continue on and could not get a picture.  Now we will have to continue looking for another one to get a picture.  As the M&M guys said:  They do exist!

The views along our drive to Valdez continued getting prettier with each mile, but the road conditions continued to get worse as we drove.  Since Forest was driving, Cindy had to “man the camera”.  Sure do hope some of the pictures will be worthy of posting since hanging out the window like a dog enjoying his ride made her look pretty goofy.  Within the last 20 miles to Valdez we saw lots of waterfalls and the Worthington Glacier which we intend to visit in the next few days.

We arrived at the Chena Rv Park in Valdez around 2pm.  Our site #3 is a back in with very nice views of the mountains out of the front window.  The location is perfect for walking down to the dock which we did after grabbing some halibut, popcorn shrimp and chips and a cup of chowder at the Alaska Halibut House.

Saturday morning we gave the coach and the truck a really good bath, they both needed it!  
We are booked for a Glacier Cruise on the LuLu Belle for Sunday.   While paying for our trip Capt Fred’s wife told us her son lived in Galliano, LA.  I told her that is where my Mom grew up and I have many cousins there.  Small world.  Then we walked over to Mike’s Palace for dinner with our 10% discount, courtesy of the LuLu Belle.  We were not disappointed.  Forest had a Halibut and Mushroom Shish-ka-bob with lemon butter and Capers and Saffron rice.  Cindy had grilled Halibut with grilled veggies.  Both were delicious!

Sunday morning was our Lu-Lu Belle Glacier and Wildlife Cruise.  It was scheduled for 10:30am and advertised as 7+ hours.  Captain Fred gave us a fabulous trip.  He is a real character, loaded with lots of information he shared with us all throughout the trip.  We wonder if he talks in his sleep because he talked non-stop all day.  
Capt Fred built the Lulu Belle over 40 years ago, gorgeous boat!

The Lu-Lu Belle cruised past the “TransAlaska Oil Pipe Line terminus, where millions of barrels of oil leave Valdez each year for the refineries of the Lower 48.”  
Think they're lookin' at us?

We would be running along and all of a sudden the engine would slow down and we were treated to seeing wildlife.  A few otters just lounging back in the water here, there and everywhere.  We saw quite a few.  We spotted eagles in the trees along the banks.  Then there were the Stellar sea lions, hundreds of them!  We spent a lot of time enjoying  them.  Then on the hunt for the Puffin.  Yep, he found them too.  Then came the Dall porpoise.  There was a pod of them that hung with us for quite a while.  Then out on the bank we spotted 5 or 6 mountain goats.

The Dall porpoise can swim at 30mph!

We eventually began seeing chunks of ice, yep icebergs!  They got larger and larger as we made our way to the Columbia Glacier, the second largest tidewater glacier in North America.  Before long we were spotting Harbor seals sunning themselves on the icebergs.  With each mile we saw more and more icebergs, before long it began to look like a giant blue slushy.  We finally began to see the Columbia Glacier in the distance.  We were only able to get within 4 miles of the main glacier due to all of the ice that had broken off overnight.  Yesterday they were able to get to the face.  So we proceeded to the western part of the Columbia Glacier.  Captain Fred was able to maneuver the Lu-Lu Belle to within a quarter mile of it.  We sat for quite a while watching the calving of the glacier.  What a sight to see!  

She's carrying her baby on her stomach

At times we were totally surrounded by icy slush, but Capt Fred would keep pushing his way through

Think I'll go for a swim

We continued searching for whales but were not so lucky with them.  This was not the day to see them in Prince William Sound but what a day it was!  BTW the air temperature was 38ºF at the glaciers.  Water temperature was below 30º, the boat's sea temp gauge only reads down to 30º.

We were bundled up and managed to stay outside on the deck for the entire day (except for about 30 minutes inside to thaw out) enjoying the awesome views of Prince William Sound and the Columbia Glacier.  Oh, by the way, our cruise did not return to port until after 8pm.  Yep, 9+ hours on the Lu-Lu Belle with Captain Fred Rodolf.  We would highly recommend his cruise if you are ever in Valdez, Alaska.
The end of a very fun but tiring day

Even though we could not share the day with our sons and their families, it was a very nice Father’s Day.  Wish they could have been here with us.

And thank you Lamar for the hats!  They came in really handy.

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