More Museum Time
~Friday, July 15, 2022~
Day 761 (Travel Day)
Day 25 of Alaska Trip
Today would likely be the shortest “Travel Day” in the last 24 months. Sort of ironic when in these last 30 days, we’ve had some of our longest. About 30 miles away from Valdez, on the Richardson Highway is Thompson Pass at around 2,600 feet above sea level. It would seem to be not a big deal in terms of altitude, but when this far north, 2,600 feet in Alaska is not the same as 2,600 feet in California let’s say. Today, we’re cold and in the clouds. There’s also heavy winds and very little visibility, maybe 5 feet, which made getting off the highway quite interesting since it was hard to see the boondocking site we had scouted out earlier. And, it was a little dodgy getting into our spot with a fairly steep berm (always makes me nervous when it comes to clearance). And to ensure optimum levelness, it was the most we’ve ever had to extend the tongue jack. Let’s just hope that we don’t get kicked off our 2-day “property” which also happens to be a pull-off spot for the ‘98 Trail (the pack trail of 1898, the first All-American land route to the interior of Alaska and used until 1907 when the trail was widened for wagons). Generally, boondocking etiquette says not to do pull-offs in touristy spots like hiking trails or at waterfalls. But the gravel area is huge and we’re far enough from the trailhead. I am hoping that someone else will follow suit and come join us on our special plot of land. I think it was about then that I was missing our “home” of downtown Valdez and all the activity that went with it, not to mention those full hookup amentites and decent weather. But then again, it is nice to have a little variety in terms of lodging. It’s definitely fun to mix things up a bit. We’re just hoping the clouds give way to sunshine so we can experience these amazing views.
After dropping the trailer off and locking everything up, we went back into Valdez for a quick lunch before finishing up our museum tour from yesterday. Already 1:30 and not having had anything yet to eat, we were famished. Surprisingly they have the same restaurant, called The Potato, that we ate at in McCarthy. Having liked it so much we decided to eat there. Jeff had a chicken pita wrap and I had their popular Potato Head burrito. This would suffice for a full day’s sustenance. No need for dinner tonight.
The concierge at the Valdez Museum remembered us, welcoming us back in. Being at a museum was the perfect rainy
weather kind of thing to do anyway. We simply picked up where we left off, seeing an accurately appointed diorama of an old gold rush cabin, and a model of a 20th century home that would have been affected by the 1964 earthquake. There was even a video on the subject with first hand accounts of that horrible day. Another highlight in the museum was a fine example of hand crafted furniture…..the Pinzon Bar.
It was built at the turn of the century and moved to Valdez where it served many a patron at the old popular downtown bar called the Gold Dust Exchange. The last section of the museum brought us to the Alaska Pipeline exhibit. Though we have plans to learn more about the controversial pipeline during our stay in Fairbanks, it brought back a flood of memories of the 1989 disaster of the Exxon Valdez and the huge recovery efforts that still plague the area to this day. But one thing’s for certain….it was a monumental feat. On display was a small scale bronze monument showing the 5 key types of workforce behind the building of the pipeline……a surveyor,
an engineer, a welder, a laborer and a teamster. The original sculpture stands next to the Alaska State Ferry Terminal. We were so glad we came back to finish what we started.
Being a Friday, Jeff thought it would be fun to go back to the Valdez Brewing Company for a beer before heading back up the mountain. Now beer on a cold day for me doesn’t sound all too appealing. But, I agreed as long as I could get a to-go cup of coffee from the Klondike Cafe, perfect for this cold, rainy day. Sadie’s entertainment was a Schnauzer and a Great Dane/Pyranese mix…..both very friendly. And the beer selection…….better.
On the way back up to Thompson Pass, it was quite a different scene from the other day with barely 1 waterfall visible through the mist of the clouds. We’re officially in the clouds people!! Oh, and we have the company of 2 van owners, both about 50 yards from us and all hunkered down. I would have preferred more company, but 2 is better than none.