Pictures: Day 17

Day 17 / Saturday, June 28, 2008

Heading out of Anchorage after a day of rest and repair for auDRey. There's technically no Interstate Highway in Alaska but this road in and out of Anchorage and the peninsula is the widest road in the state. I'm waiting to cross those mountains up ahead on my way to Valdez.

I can see why the Glenn Highway is considered a scenic route. That's looking at the northern edge of the Chugach Mountains.

This was certainly a beautiful drive. The mountain peak there with its head in the clouds kept me interested for a long while. Imagine how high it is from its surroundings to create its own clouds, just like Denali...

Beautiful views in all directions.

Now those are what you call mountains.

They were doing some major construction in one section.

It was tough to pay attention to the road all the time because of these great scenic vistas, plus taking pictures of them while moving.

Matanuska Glacier visible from the highway. It's the largest glacier that you can drive up to in your car. It's an active glacier, moving at about 1 foot per year and it empties into this valley instead of an ocean. It's 27 miles long and 4 miles wide at the mouth.

The sign that something mechanical was not right on the bike. The exhaust should not be experiencing this kind of vibration. Since it was Saturday and all the mechanics were closed, I tore off the end cap to prevent it from breaking off while riding and it sounded like I was running straight pipes – really, really loud. But my logic was that Harleys ride with really loud straight pipes, so it can’t be that damaging to the engine.

Heading off to the fishing town of Valdez, also the end of the Alaska Pipeline, about 110 miles away. This is the only road into and out of Valdez and the scenery itself is worth heading down to Valdez.

It was quite misty as I got close to crossing the Chugach Mountains and I saw this complete rainbow in a small valley.

I've never seen one this close and complete. I saw where the rainbow ended and I'm sorry to report that there's no pot o'gold.

The weather was changing pretty quickly around each corner.

I like how at this latitude it's so clear where the tree line ends and where the snow starts. Those peaks are only about 4,000 ft but the air is quite chilly and being so close to the oceans, the Chugach gets a lot of snow and has the most glaciers in Alaska.

Being so close to the ocean also leads to all this funky weather. Bright sunshine behind dark clouds.

Passing by Worthington Glacier, a frequent stop for tour buses. Since it was getting late, I'd stop by to get a closer look on my way back.

Thompson Pass, the highest point on the road at only 2678 ft, but in the winter, this pass gets the most snow in Alaska. In 1952-53, this pass got over 81 ft of snow! But in the summer it seems so dull.

All those poles are for the winter, when the road is buried in snow.

On the ocean-side of the Chugach.

Entering Keystone Canyon, the last of the mountains before the ocean.

The road got winding and twisty.

Bridal Veil Falls near Valdez, which is over 1,100 ft tall. The name sounded familiar and then I later found out that it's a very popular name for waterfalls as it obviously resembles a bride's veil. There are over 20 waterfalls in the US with the same name.

Looking out across Prince William Sound from Valdez. You can see an oil tanker being escorted by tug boats as this is the terminus for the Alaska Pipeline and from here, the crude heads down to the lower 48. This was also the site of the infamous Exxon-Valdez oil spill of 1989 and the destructive earthquake of 1964, which leveled the old site of Valdez .

Next: Day 18 - 19, Riding into Tok with Bike Problems

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