The Great Land – Day 5

27-Aug-2012 19:29, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 2.8, 17.0mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

Day 5. The last day of our trip was to be a pleasant surprise. The day started out to be cloudy and raining. I was tired quite a bit by the past days of driving, but more so the rain had put me off. Our flight was actually at 1:45 AM Tuesday morning. Thus we had the entire day on Monday and it didn’t make sense to sit or just while it away.  We had decided to take the Philips tour of the glaciers – a 5.5 hour cruise to Prince William Sound – a body of water surrounded by many glaciers.

The start of the tour is from Whittier. This is a small town of about 200 people and lies across from Anchorage, but about a easy 60 minute drive. You need to pass through the Anton Anderson memorial tunnel, which was constructed by the US Military during world war II. This tunnel, 2.5 miles long, is used by both vehicles as well as train and is one-way tunnel due to it’s single track. It is the longest tunnel in the US and is a fascinating piece of engineering. In all modern day tunnels, you see the inside finished up nice and clean, but in the Whittier or Portage tunnel you see the mountain jutting out all the way. Speed limit is 25 mph and you need to maintain a 100 ft distance between vehicles. One can certainly get claustrophobia as it takes over 5 minutes to emerge from the darkness. The tunnel is closed for six months during winter and the town’s mode of access is the water. A lone airstrip on the town is also closed during winter. The tunnel opens every 30 minutes each way. We drove in for the 10:30 AM opening and had plenty of time to grab a hot chocolate.

27-Aug-2012 20:30, Canon Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, 2.8, 52.0mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 100
The town is a major dock for the large cruises. Our cruise started at 12:30 PM on the ‘Klondike Express’. The surprise was that the Sun decided to shine for the rest of the day and our sightings of the glaciers turned extraordinary!! Many whales and sea otters also decided to come out due to the sun and it was a fascinating end to the trip. I had some pleasing photographs to my heart’s content as was evident when I looked at them on my tablet later on. I later read that in 1989 there was the great Alaskan oil spill in the sound and was the reason for the deaths of 100,000 to as many as 250,000 seabirds, at least 2,800 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbor seals, 247 Bald Eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs (from Wiki). Sad what man’s carelessness can do to pristine nature sitting just fine for millions of years.

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