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Home town tourist

September 23, 2013

Happy Monday folks!

I don’t know about you guys, but I had a bit of a hard time crawling out of bed this morning and getting my ‘mojo’ working.  A hot breakfast and some coffee did help, though.

It was a great weekend around here and a much needed break.

On Saturday my parents, my sister, Joe and I drove about an hour outside of Anchorage to drive through the Whittier tunnel and into the town of Whittier to catch a 26 glacier tour boat.  With all the family members we had in town for our wedding last month, many of them spent time being tourists around this great state.  A group of them went on this same 26 glacier tour and loved it so much they insisted that we go and see it for ourselves.

My parents made all the arrangements (thank you!) and before I knew it, Saturday was here and it was time to hit the road.

The Whittier tunnel is always super cool to drive through.  It was originally built in the early 1940’s by the U.S. Army as a way to get supplies to Whittier, via the Alaska Railroad, as part of the war effort.  If I remember the story correctly, the tunnel was built by blasting dynamite through both sides of Maynard Mountain and working to meet in the middle.  By the time the two tunnels became one, they were only 6 inches off!!

In the late 1990’s or early 2000’s the tunnel was upgraded to accommodate vehicles — keep in mind, though, that the tunnel is one lane so there are specific times when the traffic is going in one direction or the other or the train is going through.  Here are some pictures from our time in the tunnel:

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The train on it’s way to Whittier, vehicles waiting in line to go through tunnel, the entrance of the tunnel, driving through the tunnel, and finally, the light at the end of the tunnel.  I love how the rock face on the inside of the tunnel was left as is and how you can even watch ground water seeping from the mountain!

As you can see, it was a bit of a damp drive but by the time we boarded the boat, the skies had cleared.  The glacier tour took about 4 hours and brought us to some amazing places.  Check out these views:

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As you can see, the closer we got to the glaciers (and the closer they were to the ocean) the more it was as if we were floating inside a giant blue slushy.  We watched – and heard – as several huge chunks of the glacier broke apart (calved) and fell into the ocean.  The sound was amazing, much like a shot gun going off or a deep, haunting rumble.

It was at this last stop (the last picture above) where the crew of the boat took out fishing nets and gathered up a bunch of glacier ice.  They sold glacier margaritas on board and I just had to have one:

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The ice in that cup formed at least 200 years ago and only recently detached from the glacier.  Wicked!

Saturday was an amazing day — the time spent with my family was priceless and it was wonderful getting out and being a tourist in the state I have lived in for about 15 years.

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