After meeting in the Bordeaux Room, we disembarked the Coral Princess, and found that Blue 8 meant that we were all destined for the same bus. Danielle, from Texas, was our driver/guide, and a hoot. We had to wait until the single-lane tunnel opened up in our direction, so she had some time to tell us about Whittier. She pointed to a big yellow building and said everyone lives there. I thought she was joking, but it’s
actually true. She said there are no school snow days because there is a tunnel from that building to the school.
At 9:00 the tunnel opened up and we started through. It’s also a railroad tunnel, and we were driving right on
the tracks. It seemed just wide enough to allow the bus through. At two and a half miles, it’s the longest in North America. It’s ventilated by jet engine power, and has safety compartments along the way, stocked with provisions in case of disaster. They’ve never been used.
In 1964 there was 9.2 Richter scale earthquake. The earth rose six feet in some places, and sunk fifteen in others. Seawater flowed onto the land, killing the vegetation. 52 years later, there are bare, dead trees everywhere. I expect the residents are leaving them up as a remembrance of the event.
In her most caring tone, she asked, “Y’all feeling a little cold?” When a few people said yes, she said, “Welcome to Alaska.”
There are two creation stories for the Conservation Center. In the first, a man won a paper products promotion contest and instead of selecting the cash prize as was expected, he chose the other prize, an elephant! When the elephant became too large keep at home, it became the first animal at the Center. The other story is that the Center was founded to protect the wood bison. Perhaps both are true, or perhaps we are talking about two different places.
At the Conservation Center we saw bison, musk oxen, elk, and a porcupine. Reportedly, there were caribou over in the distance somewhere but I never saw any. Did you know that a reindeer is simply a domesticated caribou?
We reboarded the bus and headed for Anchorage, and a huge, bare, Visitors Center. The main option was to wait until 3:45 PM and take a shuttle bus four blocks to the Captain Hook Hotel. Some of us took one-hour city tour bus. Our choice was to take the walk see what would happen at the Captain Cook. They weren’t ready for us, as expected, but we did have hamburgers at Fletcher’s, and I had some delicious seafood chowder.
The hotel is elegant, with interesting shops, and our room was spacious.
That evening we headed for our first of our three land-based concerts. We had, from the beginning, wondered how the attendance would be at a museum that had closed for the day an hour or so before. There were perhaps 30 attendees, most of whom were members of our tour. Also. It was impractical to show the slides.
The good news was that we had a really good performance, and we could hear each other, and it was fun.
Teresa and I headed back to Fletcher’s for a lemonade, and soon Tony showed up, followed by Al and Dorothy, and we squoze everybody in. Then two more strolled in, and more, until we were nine. The couple at the next table gave up and moved, and then we all fit comfortably, and had the evening snack of our choice, mine being another bowl of seafood chowder, since the cup I had had earlier had been so good.