You probably remember Valdez because of the Exxon Valdez, the oil tanker, that struck a reef in 1989 in the Prince William Sound causing an environmental catastrophe and making the town sadly famous. At least that rang a bell in MY mind hearing of Valdez...
We did not regret the decision to go to Valdez and actually stayed a day longer than planned. Here’s why.
1. The Highway to Valdez
...in the US is simply beautiful with a great scenery and lots of purple flowers at its slopes, which they call fireweed.
And it is much better maintained than e.g. Highway 1 in Canada, which we drove the day before. The road there is so bad and bumpy featuring thousands of construction areas and water filled potholes, that our truck resembled a muddy ball in the evening. Even worse, the beer cans in our fridge almost exploded when we opened them after the ride - bloody hell I wanted to drink that beer!! :-D
2. The glacier that you can hike up to and actually touch (!)
on Richardson Highway a couple of miles before entering Valdez. I never touched a glacier before!!!
And this is what it looks like, if you turn around. We almost expected the riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings coming along ;-)
3. Valdez is actually a town „for real“
i.e. with a supermarket, restaurants and living people on the streets! We stopped in so many „towns“ before, that were a far cry from being allowed to be called town - e.g. Tok (Tok?!) or Chicken (Chicken??! Guess the first seddlers weren't too creative ;-))). Believe me, these are really in the middle of nowhere. 5 houses and some sheds, a cafe, if you’re lucky - and a campground. The biggest event of the day in Tok was the pancake tossing at the community area of the campground at 7pm
4. The Gold Rush Days in Valdez.
An event that takes place at a weekend in July. When we arrived, we saw dozens of people with wine glasses on the streets. Alcohol on the streets? In the US? We instantly developed a liking for Valdez :-D Reason was a wine tasting (part of the Gold Rush Days), where every store, shop, bank, even estate agency poured out wine to the passers-by. You could buy a glass and then just walk around trying all the wine. The whole town did and collectively staggered across the streets. Amazing.
Another really nice thing was a food fare, that was taking place on the next day in the community hall. About 30 private persons had made a dish from another country (e.g. Hawaii, Mexico, Italy, Norway, Germany) and for 3$ each you could try. In the evening there was life music and dancing (well, a bit woodstock-like, but still!) as well as a beer and wine garden. Nice!
5. A campground with bunnies
We stayed at the Bear Paw Campground in the middle of the town and highly recommend it. Nice and very clean facilities, a bit loud though and without much privacy, but there is also a small area directly at the waterfront. And lots of really cute wild bunnies keep you company - they are hopping all over the campground.
6. The Cornelia Marie!
Do you remember the TV show "Deadliest Catch" (in German: "Der härteste Job Alaskas"?) There she is, passing us in the afternoon and going out to catch more king crabs!
7. And of course: The Prince William Sound!
It almost recovered from the catastrophe 15 years ago. A lot of animals like e.g. 20.000 whales were killed due to the oil but they still were lucky. As the water is so cold, the oil couldn’t spread as it usually does. You can take a cruise on the water and see the amazing wildlife for yourself. Look who came to see us: