Turnagain Arm. Sharon said the drive south of Anchorage to Turnagain Arm was pretty right now as the ice was breaking up. "Where?" Monique questioned. "Ptarmigan Arm?" is what I thought it must be. Nope. Turn-Again is the name of the place. So we decided that would be a good road to travel on Monique's only tourist morning in Anchorage. Stan was off that morning and able to come with us, and offered to drive. Stan is an excellent tour guide, and always has stories, lore, and information at the ready. For example, I learned that if 5 vehicles are lined up behind you on this road you have to use the roadside turnout and let them pass...it's a ticket if you hold up traffic. There are sections of the road that are famous for slides, and Sharon said she has been late for work when boulders occasionally block the road. Apparently once a moose just fell off the cliff...I think they said it landed on a passing state trooper car. These are the ways of my new world.
So this is the Turnagain Arm area. This is open ocean and these big chunks of ice were just cruising by. According to Stan-Alaska-wiki, these are the second highest tides in the world. The Bay of Fundy is the highest.
This is the Stan...or Stan-wiki-Alaska. I think he is being a starfish.
This is Stan and Monique, posing in the northernmost habitat these two skydivers have even been at in the same time (it's usually Eden North in Edmonton or Skydive Arizona in Eloy). Note the ocean-mountain Monique smile is an absolute beaming grin whilst in the presence of both of those things...and she even has a bonus Stan.
But back to the ice. So the ice breaks up, and rides the tide through this area. At low tide the big chunks get stranded on the silt. The chunks I saw were the size of a car hood on average...many were much bigger and thicker, not quite small car size, but if one waited and watched long enough, maybe you would see such a thing.
This sign caught my eye. You may or may not know that Alaska is really active on the old seismic scales. In fact, if you take a look at the largest earthquakes ever recorded, you will find Alaska ranks #3 for the largest earthquakes ever recorded (it was second until the Indian Ocean earthquake of Dec 26th, 2004). On March 27, 1964, an earthquake registering 9.2 on the Richter Scale hit 78 miles east of Anchorage. Land near Kodiak was permanently raised 30 feet, and the area around Turnagain Arm dropped 8 feet. The road was no longer above sea level at high tide. The forest dropped into salt water, leaving the trees upright to eventually die off in their new stand, and eerie reminder of the landscape shift. 139 people were killed in the collapsing, the underwater landslide that collapsed the docks at Valdez, and in the 27 foot tsunami that hit the village of Chenega. I expect there will be more mentions of this event in future blogs.
There was also this sign, which made me excited that I might get to see some whales this year. And sad that there needs to be a call number to report people harassing or hurting whales here.
Some bigger shots of the ice against the mountains...
And I just had to post this one of Monique because she looks just so darn happy!
The wind made the day feel a bit brisk, but it was still nice to see the scenery!
I liked the way the sun tried very hard to poke through the grey skies and warm the tips of the mountain. It wasn't successful at the warming bit, but it was stunning.
This scene also foreshadows adventures to come. Below is a picture. There is a rocky point, named Beluga Point. I imagine spending a lazy weekend with my still imaginary new zoom lens watching for Belugas. In the foreground is a railway track...for a little passenger train that I am just going to have to ride around on this summer to see where it goes!