Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where has this summer gone...My Summer in Whittier Alaska

Firstly, I have been terribly lazy and not motivated to keep this blog up as I originally promised. With work keeping me busy, and lack of online time I have been focusing on other things and did not feel my usual

inspiration to share my experiences this summer. In any case time is passing by so I will share a few things about my summer working on Prince William Sound in Whittier, the Strangest little town in Alaska.

I have endurred endless rain, wind and fog this summer, yet also on a high note, countless lovely days of glorious sapphire skies and breathtaking views. Staring out my living room window at 5o waterfalls I count my blessings even with the challenges. I took my chances this summer deciding to work in Whittier, often referred to as the weirdest little town in Alaska. Once a thriving Military base, now abandoned, the railroad owns pretty much everything. Home to roughly 186 or so year round residents, who some how manage to survive hilacious winters of 30 foot snow drifts and 100 mph winds, I feel grateful to just be here for the summer.

The gem is that it is the gateway to Prince William Sound, a protective inland sea bound by Islands and the Chugach National forest, the second largest national forest in the US.

A northern temperate rainforest , which accounts for the high level of rain, and roughly 110 inches or so of precipitation a year. It is also why this area has the highest concentration of tidewater glaciers in North America or the world for that matter. Surrounded by waterfalls and breathtaking beauty all around literally makes this one of Alaska's precious gems, and probably one of the most beautiful places in the country. However, the infrastructure of the town itself, which really isn't that much of a town does lack character and charm. Abandoned buildings, railroad tracks and the junk boat yards give it a rather funky run down charm all it's own.
Traveler's and tourists come here from all over the globe to see the Glacier's ,and enjoy the Cruises and fishing charters that keep this area active in the summer months. This summer I have juggled working mostly in the office checking passenger's in, yet I have also worked on the boat's as a deckhand filling in here and there, although I love being on the boats I do not particularly like the food service part which takes up a lot of energy and time, cleaning and prepping, and as far as I am concerned distracts from the tour. So
on some of my time off I have gone out our boat for sheer pleasure and jus to enjoy the magic and scenery and our charming Sea Otter's who are the most common Marine Mammal seen here..., although I do not go out on my time off as much as last summer season, I have still snuck in a few times to enjoy myself. I have also fit in some hiking and just hanging out as well......

and have revered in the charm of Sea Otters floating in large rafts, icebergs floating in bays, icy blue glaciers and channels and passes where the water is the color of turquoise gems.

I even hopped over to Girdwood a couple of times, a small town that is the home of Mount Alyeska, Alaska's premier Ski resort. The town would be considered by some to be Alaska's hippy town with down to earth residents, cute cabins and beautiful flowers in the summer. They hosted a couple of festivals this summer and I attended the

Forest Fair which had amazing booths of local art, down home music and some tasty faire. All good fun and a lovely escape from life behind a tunnel. Yes indeed to access the town of Whittier you drive through a 2.5 mile tunnel which opens and closes every hour in each direction, one way on the 1/2 hour, the other way on the hour. Life is ruled by the tunnel here and you literally do feel you are living behind walls, tall mountain walls that is. I have managed to escape a few times to Anchorage, Alaska's big city to run errands and enjoy some culture.

A few weeks back I took a ferry voyage on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry, the Chenega. A high speed catamaran to the little town of Cordova on the Southeast end of Prince William sound.

A charming little non tourist town which is primarly a fishing village and home to a unique glacier called the Child's Glacier which calves off into the Copper River famous for it's Salmon. The ferry was a 7 hour ride since I opted to travel on the day it does not go direct and makes a stop in Valdez which is on the road system.

Cordova is not on the road system, and is also known for the Million dollar bridge which was never completed. I enjoyed wandering the quaint little town with some art galleries and little hang outs that are typcial of Alaska's smaller fishing villages. Cordova is home to around 2,500 people or so and the only way there is by plane or boat. I stayed in local hotel above the town bar which had it's fair share of noise, yet embraced her own kind of charm. A lovely little place when you want to escape the tourist crowds and just get away. Another fact about Cordova is that this area of Prince William sound was the hardest hit by the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Thousands of Marine Animals perished and it effected the area for a very long time after that. Thankfully this area has since recovered, and the Sea Otter's and other Marine Wildlife are starting to come back. Many of the Orca's (Killer Whales) that call this area home, had huge effects following the spill. Some of the larger males suffered damange to their hormones which effected their dorsal fins, and to this day some of these Animals have dorsal fins that curl over, and this is due to the oil effecting their hormones. Many died, yet the few that did survive retain the flopped dorsal fin. A very sad day for this area and the wildlife that call Prince William Sound home.

Now the season is coming to a closure in just barely two weeks and new adventures await me. I am excited for the new opportunites and surprises that are lurking around the corner, fun surprises and magical places.

Ice Castles, Surprise

I am grateful to be leaving this great state on a Cruise on the Zaandam, one of Holland America's smaller ship'S to the Southesast and through the inside passage to Vancouver, British Columbia. One of My long time Bff's from High school is flying up to join me and I am sure we are going to have blast, plus I will be celebrating my birthday as we sail through the passage on the 17th. It will be nice to have a vacation and enjoy the other side of the state for a week. For now I have just barely two weeks of work left, and will be spending my time packing and getting ready for all the new opportunites that await me.

Also be sure to check out the Bonus photos I have added as well... For now have a fabulous day and will catch up with everyone soon.

My digital drawing, Humpback Spring

Orcas at the Dock in May, one of the AE pod members

Moonrise over Whittier Glacier

Kodiak Bear Cub female at the Alaska Wildlife Conservaiton Center

Eagle Perched along the Turnagin Arm

Whittier on an early April Morning

Working on a Charter in Blackstone Bay, from the Wheelhouse

Otter Buddies floating out in Port Wells near Harriman Fjord

Otterly Family Affair

Reflection at the end of Ester Passage into Port Wells and Harriman Fjord

It's obvious "I heart Otters"

One of my digital drawings, Humpback Sunset

A cute Big Bear at the Girdwood Forest Fair

Signs were everywhere at the forest fair

Flowers growing outside a cabin in Girdwood

Cute Guy, Alaska Husky Dog in his Dad's truck, Girdwood

Bald Eagle perched high at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage

Some of my Sistah's hanging out in the Brown Bear area at the Center

Fireweed peaks in early August

Rescued Orphan Kodiak Brown Bear cub at the Wildlife Conservation Center

Reflection of Ice at the Surprise Glacier in Harriman Fjord

It's a Family Affair

Fireweed overlooking the Bay in Cordova

At the top, Portage Pass hike

Billings Glacier out of Passage Canal


100 Tall Trees said...

BE....autiful!!!!!!! Love, love, love your posts and especially your pics. Thank you Raven Sky!

Anonymous said...