Day 27 – Valdez to Wrangell St. Elias NP

We spent a good time today in Valdez this morning.  We fueled up and then went to see the visitor’s center and museum.  The Museum was a fee, so we continued on to the Visitor’s center.  They had several bears that were supposedly killed in Alaska, and after prodding the staff about where to see bears, they said the Airport, old town Valdez, and the salmon hatchery were the best.  Since we camped at the airport, we knew there were no bears there.  Instead we asked about bloody Marys and they suggested The Fat Mermaid.

Great Bloody Marys and fantastic food.

The Fat Mermaid in Valdez makes great Bloody Marys.  And we met the owner, Karen, who started the business 9 years before and now has it running pretty well with just the staff.  She bought us another round and invited us back for lunch.  We asked about her best bear story and of course it was staring at one face to face from her kitchen window.  

Found another bear in Alaska

We walked around the old town area looking for bears (no bears) and then drove out onto the delta so Carl could witness the glacier river dumping into the ocean.  It was fun driving the truck out there on the rocks.  

Mural in Valdez

The salmon hatchery was a really cool place to visit.  It is at the mouth of a stream and they divert the salmon to the hatchery where they get the eggs, fertilize them, incubate them, hatch and then move them to pens in the ocean.  The salmon know to come back to the hatchery and basically line up to spawn.  24 million eggs per day for 4-6 weeks in the summer.  Thats a lot of salmon.

Interesting fact about salmon.

We went back to The Fat Mermaid for lunch.  Thanks for the sandwiches, Karen, they were delicious.  We drove out of Valdez about 3 PM and headed up the hill through all of the glaciers.  We stopped at a lodge that advertised Russian food.  I really wanted to have some but was still stuffed from lunch, so we had some beer and good conversations with the travelers and the locals.  Shout out to Wilma, the guard terrier at the lodge.

Where the Valdez glacier runoff enters the bay

We ended our day at a side pull off next to a trail access to the Wrangell St. Elias National Refuge.  Note, this is the largest refuge in the USA at 13.2 million acres.  The peaks in the park are amazing and packed with snow.  

Fish drying at the Russian Lodge at Tonsina River