Day 15 7/21/12 6025 miles on the odometer.
The day started with light rain that turned to heavy rain later in the morning. I headed north towards Whittier in a heavy downpour. I had to stop halfway there to get some breakfast at a little cafe along the way. Most people there were in light jackets, except for me. I had my rain pants and big ol' riding jacket on, dripping all over the place. The waitress asked if i was on a motorcycle, and exclaimed surprise with a look of concern on her face when i affirmed her question. Needed some coffee too to warm up. By the time i had gotten to the turnoff to Glacier Portage Highway to go to Whittier the rain had stopped for the most part. The drive to Whittier is really quite neat. Its July out and there is plenty of snow off the sides of the road, even though the highway is not very high elevation-wise.
The last part of the highway decending into Whittier is a 13,300 foot long single lane tunnel. Originally the tunnel was used primarily for trains, but with no other way to get in other than boat or plane it was eventually converted to a road with traffic alternating going through every 20 minutes or so. My bike only cost $12 to go through. There were at least 6 lanes lined up, with buses, rvs, cars/pickups, and bikes going through at various stages. Since they didnt want to have a major pileup due to a dropped motorcycle, i had to go last. The lady at the toll booth explained to me it would be much easier to get a fallen biker out with no one behind, as opposed to 100 cars waiting to go through. She had to explain all this to me when i paid my toll. The car behind me for some reason had a rather impatient driver, she honked at me several times. I dont know what the hurry was, the cars were not even going through yet.
After about a 25 minute wait, i finally got the signal to go through. I think the speed limit was only like 15mph. The railroad still sent trains through periodically, so the tracks are still there. Approached from the west, the tunnel slopes down to Whittier. The tunnel wasnt real big either, so i had to drive downhill, between the railroad tracks in a wet, slimy tunnel with inadequate ventilation for 2.5 miles. Doesnt get much better than that! Whittier is just a small coastal town. Evidently most of the town lives in one huge building that also has the school in it as well as several other services.
Several days prior i had arranged a ferry rider over to Valdez. The bike was about $80 to ship and my ticket was around $85. I had a couple hours to kill, so i took all my wet clothes inside and hung them up at various points around the ferry terminal lounge area. A short while later they started letting people drive on the ferry. the gal in the office told me i had to supply my own tiedowns. I only had one 1'' tiedown, but did have plenty of rope. Then about the time i got my bike all tied down to the floor in the storage area on the ferry, one of the workers told me they had plenty of tiedowns on board. next time i will ask before i tie anything down. The office lady must not have known that.
The ferry ride lasted about 6 hours. Parts of the deck were open for the public, so i spent some time outside. The weather was still overcast with light rain. Might have been 60 outside at the most. I met a couple guys who were riding their bicycles across the americas. North to Alaska by ferry, then ride down to the southern US, then fly to south america and spend the summer there riding back up to the states. Sounded like fun to me. One of them told me they were taking a year to do it, and would run them approximately $20,000. Im sure they will have some excellent stories by the time they are done with that.
Upon arriving in Valdez, i unloaded the bike, then drove around town a little bit before stopping at a kayak outfitter to sign up for some sea kayaking the next day. Only cost $229 per day. The day out in Homer ran me about $150 for sea kayaking, but they didnt have a glacier field to go through. There was a campground right in town with showers and laundry facilities, so $20 later i was setting up camp and getting some clothes washed and dried out. The bicycle guys were also there, so i talked to them for a bit. There were some other guys there trying to split firewood with a machete. I let them borrow my hatchet, which worked much better. It rained more that evening and continued into the night, but i got to sleep nonetheless.
Deep Creek campground.
The town of Whittier.
Pics from the ferry ride from Whittier to Valdez.
The bike all tied down onboard the ferry.
For some reason Valdez had an overabundance of black rabbits running all over town.
161 miles today.