Our first morning in Valdez was a perfect first morning of vacation. We didn’t have any pressing engagements and so we slept in, took things slow, and made a special breakfast:
Everyone brings their Princess Waffle maker (thanks Mollie for giving it to the girls!) with them camping, right? To be fair, the waffles were delicious and I absolutely do not regret making space for a waffle maker among all the other things I probably could have done without but decided I needed anyways.
As we were finishing up breakfast the girls started hollering at us that there was a bear outside. Before I go any further, let me fill you in on two things. First, the Hays girls are known to be both dramatic and irrational about wild life and camping in general. Two summers ago we went camping with my folks and Bug insisted on staying in the truck to guard it from bandits — if that gives you any idea of how cut out we are for camping. The whole trip down to Valdez and the whole first day the talk was all about one thing — bears. We insisted that we wouldn’t see any because bears don’t like people, etc. etc. etc. Secondly, Alaska isn’t an episode of National Geographic. Yes, there is plenty of wild life and yes, you do see it. However, Alaska is huge and you don’t see said wild life constantly or even very often. Anyways, Andy went over to look out the window where they were insisting that they could see a bear out of and I was taken a little off guard when, instead of telling them not to ‘cry bear’, he asked me, “Hey, did you leave the car doors open all night?” I thought it was a joke. Car doors? My initial reaction was, “Shoot, did someone break into our car?” I had already been up and out earlier that morning and the car doors had been closed. So, either someone broke into my car or he was pulling my leg. I brushed him off, but quickly regrouped when he said, “Get your camera and come over here right now — I’m serious.” So I hopped over and what do ya know…
Sure enough…. apparently bears can open car doors. When I looked out the window I saw both of my car doors wide open and there was our friend (who the girls later named Robberro for his attempt at car jacking) sitting in the driver’s seat of my shiny, new SUV. Thankfully we didn’t have any food or trash inside and thankfully once he noticed us watching from the window and he took off. Extra thankfully, he didn’t do any real damage to the car. I have two tiny scratches below the driver’s side door where he tried to climb in and I’m actually kind of okay with that. It’s not every day you can say, “Yeah, those scratches came from a bear climbing into my car.” What a start to our adventure in Valdez!
After our morning bear encounter we headed off to the harbor to catch a boat to go see more wild life! The girls we most excited about this part of our trip in the hope that we would see some whales!
As we were waiting for boarding along came a plot twist — the captain informed the waiting crowd that the engine of the boat wasn’t working and the trip was cancelled. The girls were super disappointed and we had no Plan B. So we hopped over to a gift shop to look around while we brain stormed ideas. I have come to believe that in order for something to truly be an adventure it can’t go completely according to plan. Since we didn’t really know what there was to do in the town we decided to head to something we did know which was the Valdez glacier by our camp site. It ended up being a very beautiful and very fun way to spend a morning. Lots of skipping rocks, taking in beautiful sites, climbing, and just being kids!
In this last one, Bug is holding a piece of ice from the Valdez Glacier — pretty cool! We had so much fun at the lake! If you want to see more pictures from the Valdez Glacier Lake you can see them HERE.
After our morning at the lake we decided to head back into town for some lunch and exploring.
We opted for lunch at a restaurant called the Fat Mermaid. The girls learned some new words thanks to a belligerent drunk seated at the restaurant bar and it was quite literally the worst fish and chips I’ve ever had in my life, but at least we got these silly pictures:
After lunch we decided to check out the museum!
My goobers with a life boat from a cruise ship that had to be used for some reason I don’t remember. I do remember that it was a cool story, but obviously it didn’t stick.
I love the zeal that Bug has for learning. It is so much fun! She is constantly coming up to me and telling me about something new that she learned! My personal favorite part of the museum was this gem though:
Meet the North Pacific Fur Fish! You can read all about this unique specimen here:
We also visited the Whitney Museum which was a bigger hit with the girls. I called it the Valdez Zoo. It only took Princess about 10 minutes to realize and then be equally traumatized that all these animals had been killed and were stuffed. Thankfully it was post-picture taking. I have priorities, obviously. If there aren’t any pictures of crying, it didn’t happen, right?
These kids are clearly no fun what so ever. I’m pretty sure they kept all the other grown-ups visiting quite entertained.
Bug had been reading a lot about wolves before/during this trip — so this was definitely a fan favorite!
The girls with the moose gives you an idea of why in addition to the “don’t talk to strangers” spiel that we give the girls before walking to school like any normal parent, we also have to give the “turn around and run the other way if you see a moose” spiel.
I had to include this last one simply because of Baby. This is her in a nut shell. She always has a joke, always a silly story, always some sort of antic. She is, hands down, the most hilarious and witty little kid I know. She is basically her Daddy in little girl form. You’re welcome, world.
The fun doesn’t stop there, though! We also spent some time playing at the park which was pure torture with all the beautiful views.
Posing like happy little tourists with the Fairbanks street sign because that’s how we roll.
Before heading back to our campsite for the evening we decided to drive around the old town site that got wiped out by a tsunami. There is nothing left except land and signs explaining where things once were, which was cool, but I think the views were cooler. So, here are some more pretty things to look at:
We ended our day with good news — we got a spot on a different wild life and glacier cruise that was headed out the next morning! We celebrated by having a campfire, roasting hot dogs for dinner, and making s’mores! Thankfully Robberro decided not to join us for dinner.
To see more pictures from our time exploring Valdez you can do that HERE!
If you missed Part One of this adventure, you can catch up on that HERE!