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Yup – I can see Russia from here.

August 12, 2016

We got a slowish start from Valdez on Tuesday.  It was a long drive day that was ending at the halfway point to Seward, our final stop on the trip.

We got coffee, wandered through a second-hand shop (I think everyone knows of my great love of thrift) which featured the usual previously loved, now out of date clothes alongside several copies of the Sarah Palin book.  Then it was time to make our way out of the city.  First stop – a quick walk down to a glacier just outside the city.  It was a quick walk down and an impressive site, but a short detour.  From there, our most important stop – Russian lunch.  There are are a lot of Russians in Alaska, which I suppose makes sense (see above and Ms. Palin), but I hadn’t really thought about it.

We’d passed a couple Russian restaurants on the way into Valdez, and were very focused on it on the way out.  The lodge was somewhat in the middle of no where.  It was empty when we arrived, besides a Russian couple watching the Olympics on tv and sitting on a leather couch with with two teacup yorkie dogs.  The place, like every other place in alaska was decorated with animal pelts and anters, but unlike other places there was also Russian dolls and trinkets everywhere.  We had blinis and latkes and, of course, beer.  We left sated and wound towards Sheep Mountain, repeating some of our steps.

We turned on the local news station and heard an update about the accident we’d witnessed as well as the shocking story of a restaurant touting a reindeer tenderloin, which, after an extensive investigation, turned out to be elk from New Zealand.

Along our drive we passed many signs for the local politicians, but nothing for the presidential campaign, save for one lone Bernie poster that we were both convinced was placed by a rogue tourist with a sense of humor.

Our next detour took us into Copper City, a gold rush town that was trying to draw tourists with a  gas station, a “museum” and an art gallery that was closed.  It was charming and tiny.

One final stop at the Wrangell-St Elias National Park Visitor Center – the largest national park in America, and one I’d never heard of.  We took a nature hike through the woods and saw spotted magpies and various rodent like creatures.

The Sheep Mountain Inn, offered mountainside cabins that reminded me of many of the my childhood camp houses, with knotty pine and sparse decor.  What it did have were amazing burgers and a jacuzzi, which we enjoyed before an early turn in, in hopes of an early morning.

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