This had to be the best weather day we’ve had in Alaska so far with blue skies and temperatures reaching into the mid 60’s. We started out leaving our campground at Quartz Creek and after dumping the black and adding to the fresh water we were on the road. We drove a little less than 60 miles to Willawaw USFS Campground near Portage and on the road to Whittier, Alaska. We got set up, packed a lunch and drove to take the cruise to Portage Glacier using one of our Alaska Toursaver coupons. We timed it just right for the 12:00pm cruise to the glacier. The entire tour was about an hour and here are a few photos from our tour.
The weather was still good, so we decided to drive on up to Girdwood to use another Alaska Toursaver coupon taking the Alyeska Tram. As we got out to the highway, we saw this Alaska Railroad passenger train heading southwest.
From the top of the tram, we looked down at the Alyeska Hotel.
We had a fantastic view of Turnagain Arm.
And here’s a photo of two of the trams passing at midpoint in the ride.
With the beautiful weather today, Alyeska Resort seemed to be a popular destination for parasailing. These next 4 photos show a guide taking a willing participant down the hill by air.
We thought this was an interesting home along the Alyeska Highway.
And we even found a store with a name that is probably very appropriate.
Getting back to the Portage area, it was still early enough that we decided to drive into Whittier. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a toll road ($12 for a car or pickup roundtrip) to Whittier that uses a computerized traffic control system. The speed limit is 25 mph and it takes almost 7 minutes to drive through the tunnel. It is the longest highway tunnel and longest combined highway/railroad tunnel in North America at 13,200 feet. The next photo shows the approach to the tunnel.
And in this picture, we’re about to exit the tunnel.
Whittier was created by the U.S. Army during World War II. It was a port and petroleum delivering center tied to bases further north via the Alaska Railroad and later by a pipeline.
The 14 story Begich Towers was formerly the Hodge Building. It is now housing for more than half of Whittier’s population and the city offices. At one time it was used by the U.S. Army for family housing and civilian bachelor quarters.
The Buckner Building was finished in 1953 and was once the largest building in Alaska and called the “city under one roof.” Since military activity has ceased, Whittier relies on the fishing industry and tourism.
Whew!! I’m worn out going over all that again and Ken is falling asleep in his chair. That was a lot to do in one day. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so we’re talking about a day trip to Anchorage to do some shopping.