Cruise on the Lu-Lu Belle at Valdez, Alaska

Yesterday we took a cruise on a beautiful smaller boat to see the Columbia Glacier……on the way saw some great marine life…I made a small slideshow below….the morning started very foggy but gradually cleared some…we saw a big group of Sea Otters on the way out called a “raft”……all of them floating on their backs…the captain pulled his ship right into three different caves so we could see the Puffin nesting on the ledges…

The Sea Lions were really fun to see….they were so curious, several swimming up close to the boat to look at us…very noisy, honking and barking…

Then the glacier…really hard to get any perspective on it’s massive size but the captain said he measured the height of the face last year using a sextant and it is about 300 feet above the water….we were amazed that he could negotiate through the huge chunks of ice to within 1/4 mile of the face…the temperature there was in the 30’s…..we stayed there for about an hour and got to see some very large pieces fall into the ocean….it makes a huge bang and the waves created are enormous..

We passed some fishing ships and on the way back passed the Aurora which is the Alaska Marine Highway ship that  mostly ferries between here and Whittier….

Also got a good look at the Terminal for the pipeline….it was closed to visitors after 9/11/2001…too bad… must be something to see on a tour…. the 18  tanks on top are 62 feet high and 250 feet in diameter,… each holding 500,000 barrels. The terminal ships about 650,000 barrels a day now down from nearly 2,000,000 a day at the peak….one tanker holds about a million barrels

The folks at the campground told us about the bunnies….a man had some in a pen about 20 years ago and when he died his daughter released them….they seem to be thriving….there must be hundreds of them all over the city…the residents feed them to help them through the winters…..average annual snowfall in Valdez is in the 30 to 40 FOOT. range…400 to 500 inches….when the city was moved and rebuilt after the earthquake they left  many places throughout the city open …..that’s where the snow get’s piled in winter.

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