We left Seward this morning and drove 60 miles to the Williwaw Campground near Portage, most of the way north up the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. We parked the trailer and drove 5 miles further to the Whittier tunnel, a 2 ½ mile ONE-lane, dual-use (autos and trains, so rails are laid in the single lane) tunnel mined through solid rock.
After paying our $12 round-trip toll, we passed through the tunnel (which opens only once each hour for travel in each direction) to arrive at the Town of Whittier, which serves as the Port of Alaska. We’re told that 2/3 of the water-borne freight coming to Alaska arrives here. It’s also the closest Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) terminal to Anchorage and Fairbanks. Whittier has a total year-around population of 170, 85% of whom live in a single, large 11-story apartment building as there is NO single family housing here. Talk about a company town! Whittier also receives 170 inches of rain each year, which may go a long way toward explaining its’ population of 170!
From Whittier, we embarked on a 150-passenger boat which was mostly full, for a 5 ½ hour cruise. We saw it all: eagles, humpback whales, sea otters, waterfalls, icebergs, hanging glaciers, tidewater glaciers and thousands of black-legged kittiwakes! We’ll let the pictures tell the story; there are a few included here, plus a link to a Picasa Web album click here. We encourage you to go to the link and play it as a slide show. Bob was lucky enough to capture on camera a calving of a hanging glacier that came down a waterfall channel to the water. It makes an amazing series of about 10 pictures as the ice cascades down the waterfall. If the link doesn’t work, you should be able to reach it by going to the “slideshow” tab at the top of the page, and look for the slide show titled “Prince William Sound”.