Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On the way to Whittier

Last Wednesday, before 7 AM, we headed out towards Whittier to catch the ferry to Kodiak.

The Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet is the first body of water people would see after they fly to Anchorage, on the way to catch the cruise ships down the Inside Passage from Whittier or Seward. If you've ever been on a bus with them, you'd hear a lot of "ohs" and "ahs".

At this time of the year we saw large chunks of ice that had broken loose as the "bore" tides ripped the ice sheet apart. A bore tide is a wall of water ranging form 2 to 6 feet that come sin as the tide changes. This is the only place in the USA where bore tides can be experienced. So, some folks like to "surf" those tides; I already saw some surfboards on top of Anchorage cars. But, it is probably too early for that, because the ice chunks are sill numerous.

Not a good time to surf, if you ask me.

But that was not our goal. We were off to see the Alaska Conservation Center in Girdwood.
They have a large collection of injured Alaskan wildlife like brown and black bear, moose, and caribou which you can see close up. In fact, there was a documentary on Alaskan Wildlife that was filmed there, pretending it was in the wild. If you put your camera lens between the metal of the fence, you can make it look like your wild animal is just a few feet away and in a completely open field.

Unfortunately it did not open till 10 AM since they still consider it Winter Hours.

So down the road we went to cross the tunnel to Whittier. Since it is only wide enough for one car, they open it towards Whittier on the half hour and from Whittier on the hour. So we tried to make it for the 8:30 opening. This is what we met.

Unplowed roads from the Whittier turn-off till the tunnel.

Fortunately a few 18 wheelers had already passed and flattened the 4 inches of snow so we could pass easily with our 2 wheel-drive van, without studded tires!

And this is what we saw:

Yes, untouched fresh snow along the way.

And covered walkways along Portage Glacier

If you look close, some local ducks are swimming in the stream.

Unfortunately, the snow plow then came,

with it's roaring noise and cloud of snow,
reminding us it was time to pass through the Whittier tunnel.

Once over the pass, the snow blew and the car shook from the wind.
20 degrees and constant high winds, with gusts well above 50, maybe up to 70!

So, as the snow swirled and the ferry backed into the dock,

we wished that it'd be cancelled because of the wind!

But more about that ferry ride on another day.

(PS These are not Black and White pics, but it is just they way it really looked)


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