Boondock– Saturday was our last night boondocking at Robe Lake, Valdez. Friday night there were two other RV’s boondocking here but last night we had the place to ourselves. This has been a good boondocking site. It’s just a few miles into the main part of town and it’s beautiful and very quite.
Travel Plan– We’ll dump our waste tanks in the free dump site in Valdez this morning, get fresh water and gas and head out to Worthington Glacier on our way out of this area. Looking forward to driving once again on the Richardson Highway. Will be heading toward Tok but along the way is another dirt road into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park so we will give it another go at seeing more of this beautiful, huge National Park. Then we will begin working our way down the Cassier Highway on our way to Stewart/Hyder where, if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to see more brown bears in the wild fishing for salmon.
Brown bear watching– Thursday evening we went out to see the brown bear sow and her four cubs fishing near the fish hatchery on Prince William Sound in Valdez. We did get to see her as she tried bringing her cubs out of the woods, out from behind a chain link fence, across the street and down to the water where she likes to fish. She led her cubs out from behind the chain link fence but only one cub followed her lead. The other three got stuck behind the fence and started calling to the mother as she started to cross the street. Back the mother went and this time all four cubs followed her lead as she took them to her fishing area. At this point, we left the area but were gratified that there were some public safety officials there to maintain some crowd control and protect both the onlookers and the bear. It’s very unusual to see a mama with four cubs. Usually they are born 1-3 to a litter so to see four cubs was quite a thrill for us. In all the time we spent in Yellowstone National Park, we had heard of four cubs but never actually saw this many. Think this is truely a once in a lifetime experience and we could stay there all day and watch these bears. The locals of Valdez tell us this sow had a litter of three cubs two years ago and she managed to raise them all to maturity without loosing any. Usually one or sometimes two cubs are lost to predators so we’re hoping that in this case she can raise all four of these cubs to maturity. She seems to be a patient, attentive mother and responds immediately when any of the cubs give a distress call to her. There seems to be one runt in this litter. It is noticably smaller than the other cubs and has some light colored fur around it’s neck and on it’s chest. Friday morning we were up at 5:00 am and drove over to the bear fishing area to watch her fish and see her cubs. As you can imagine, there were very few folks around at this hour so the sow and her cubs moved about unencumbered by human presence. Still find it amazing how proficient these bear are at catching fish. We watched her catch at least a dozen fish and the cubs pitched right in and helped her eat them. This is a memory we’ll enjoy for the rest of our lives. Met a couple from Ohio this morning. They also saw the bear and agreed it was a wonderful experience to see them in the wild, not in a zoo. Something they never dreamed of seeing.
We boondocked at Robe Lake in Valdez for the past few nights. Such a lovely sight to wake up to in the mornings.
Got gas Wednesday for $4.31/gal. of regular. So even being at the terminus of the Alaska pipeline, gas is very pricey!
Cruise on Prince William Sound–
Yesterday we went on a cruise on Prince William Sound. It was a raw cold, rainy, gray day in Valdez but we were very excited to go. Took my Dramamine though the seas were quite calm and I probably could have skipped it. Ah but seasickness, that was a chance I was unwilling to risk.
The plan was to go out on Prince William Sound; see as much wildlife as possible and see the Columbia Glacier. We did see quite a bit of life out on the Sound including four whales. None of the whales cooperated and breached for us but seeing them “sound” (dive) and seeing their fluke as they went down was a thrill. We were unable to get anywhere near the Columbia Glacier as the Sound in this area was filled with a blanket of various sized pieces of glacial ice (ice burgs) in the water and everyone agreed that not risking our lives in an attempt to get the boat close to it was probably a good thing. Some of the glacial ice in the water was an amazingly deep blue and beautiful to look at. There was even an eagle perched on the top of one of the very large, very blue ice burgs. It was a cold, wet, thrilling, long day. Seven and a half hours of cruising followed by a fish and chips dinner. We were also lucky to spot the white rabbit on our way to dinner! Excellent!!!
A couple of nice readers of our blog wrote to us to come and see Robe Lake three miles north of Valdez, Alaska. We went there very late last night. It’s a good paved road about a quarter of a mile back to the lake area with a fair size gravel turnaround right at the lake. Saw a couple of small pull offs along this road and saw someone with an SUV camped in one of them using a tent. We went to the end of the road (it ends at the small lake) and we boondocked there. Quiet, beautiful and you can actually see fish jumping in the water though we didn’t see anyone succeed in catching any of them. What a great place to boondock!!! GPS location is N 61.08466 degrees / W 146.17484 degrees. Thank you Linda and Bob!
Don’t know who owns this property, but there’s a very small dock for planes that land on the lake (no planes here today), a dumpster in the parking area that gets emptied regularly, and someone comes out most days to cut the grasses that are encroaching on the lake. Linda and Bob said there was trash everywhere on the gravel turnaround when they arrived so they cleaned it up, throwing the trash in the dumpster located there. They were here for ten days and were just leaving today for more travel. We’ll come back and boondock here tonight.
We called around to check campground prices in Valdez. Hook-ups were $30 to $35/night. To dry camp (no hook-ups) in a campground in Valdez, the least expensive we found was $26.00/night. We try to boondock most everywhere we go and sometimes the places we stay are not lovely so having a boondock site this beautiful was a treat.
Day to day fulltiming–
One of the things about traveling through great places for fairly long periods of time in an RV as a full timer is that the more mundane chores and life habits cannot be put on hold too long. So watching your weight/diet, cleaning the motor home, laundry, getting fresh water/dumping waste tanks, etc. must go on. Finding places to get fresh water/dumping waste tanks while traveling (without using a campground) can be handled by asking locals, getting on the computer (or maybe there is an “app” for that?) and finding some place in your area that provides that service (preferably for free!). Today we decided we must do laundry, so after finding a Valdez Laundromat we got our laundry done today. When we are traveling and having so much fun, we hate to stop to do laundry so I frequently hand wash a few items at a time usually at night. Today we found that our laundry was getting ahead of my willingness to hand wash so much. It was worth the $6.00 to get everything washed and dried at once. Unless we are on a “fancy” trip, we wear easy care clothes which allows us to not separate by color, throw it all in together, separate lights and darks for drying only to avoid lint on dark items, fold everything as it comes our of the dryer and never iron anything!
Chugach National Forest Visitor Center, Crooked Creek–
Entering Valdez today, we stopped at the Chugach National Forest Visitor Center. We were told Robe Lake is city and/or state owned and not private property so we feel comfortable boondocking there. There are no “No Camping” signs and those signs are everywhere you look in Valdez so we should be fine there.
Got some recommendations from the visitor center of places to see in Valdez so we have a plan for the next few days. It is not raining today!!! It turns out the whole Valdez area is in an Arctic Rain Forest which accounts for all their rain. When it is cold, the rain becomes snow. They average about 25 feet of snow per year! OK, pretty as Valdez is, if you put six months of darkness around the clock in winter and add 25 feet of snow you have an explanation for a population of only 5000 year round residents.
Tomorrow we will be going out on a Glacier/Wildlife Viewing Cruise on Prince William Sound and are looking forward to it. We’re told this cruise is mostly about seeing wildlife and it will stay out on the water as long as they can find wildlife to watch. That kind of trip is right up our alley.
Bought senior tickets to see two of the museums in town. The senior tickets are $6.00 each and are good for one year so we’ll be going in and out of the museums many times during our stay in Valdez. The one we spent a lot of time in focused on the Gold Rush and the Oil Spill (Exxon Valdez). The Gold Rush pictures and documents were amazing. The struggle just to get to the area where gold had been found was horrendous and more than most folks would be willing to suffer. Many who tried the Gold Rush life died or quit and went back home. As for the Oil Spill, what is there to say? It was devastating and destructive to the environment, the wildlife and to all of the people dependant on fishing the Prince William Sound for a living. There are far better protections for Prince William Sound now than there ever were.