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Alaska: Cordova 7.2.-29.2.2004

updates:  7.2.   14.2.  21.2.  29.2.  

7.2.2004 Cordova, Alaska
Sorry this update comes a bit late, but I have been busy!
Home at last! On Thursday night at 11 PM we drove Subaru out from the ferry to pouring rain after 11 hours ferry ride. No snow in Cordova, oh no! Rain and the lack of snow were disappointments, but the good thing was that boat was warm, generous 22 C (70 F). Jean from the French boat had put the radiator on a day earlier. We didn't have to shiver in sleeping bags, we were able to sleep in our own bed between the sheets. The sound of rain lulled us to sleep. Middle of the night I woke when the wind was blowing and the ropes were creaking - so familiar noises! I fell back to sleep, it was good to be back home.
Kristiina feels rather small after living two months in different apartments and houses, but we'll get used to it. And it will be better when we get all the things on their place. We brought a LOT of stuff from Finland and Anchorage. Subaru was full to the ceiling. We bought second hand cross-country skies for both of us in Anchorage. Hannu bought a snowboard and snowshoes. (So that we were really looking forward for some snow.) On our last day in Anchorage we went to Costco to buy food and drinks, because everything is less expensive in Anchorage than in Cordova.
Hannu changed the o-ring in the oil stove and soon we were able to enjoy the nice (and cheap) heat of the stove instead of a wild-running electric meter. If we have full power on the radiator it costs us 20 dollars a day. This time we had to carry the water in jugs because the gear handle is off and the boat cannot be motored.
We had some mail waiting. The Cadillac Club of Finland had sent us a calender with neat Caddy photos, thanks!
We arrived just in time to the Iceworm festival, held every winter in Cordova. Iceworms exist in real, but about those and the festival later, after we have seen what it is. That much we know that we are attending the parade.

A couple of things about our journey back to Cordova. This time we drove from Anchorage to Seward, about 100 miles. It took us 3,5 hours. This route is much easier than Anchorage-Valdez route, but it climbs a bit up to the mountains as well. The highest point is Turnagain Pass, where we saw people with snowmachines and snowboards. There are no lifts, you have to carry the board and walk up with snowshoes. The shorter drive meant a longer ferry trip. It takes about 11 hours from Seward to Cordova - same than from Helsinki to Stockholm.
In Seward we stayed one night with our friend Nina. And in the evening we went with her to work: aboard a tug boat, which was helping a container ship into the harbour. That was interesting! Kari A has two 1200 hp engines. There is usually a crew of three, in more difficult jobs four. The tug is helping the harbour traffic in Seward. In summertime there are a lot of cruising ships, and now the difficult ice situation in Anchoaage has directed more cargo ships into Seward. We stayed nice and warm in the cockpit with the captain, while Nina and the young deckhand were sweating outside with the heavy lines. And we were back in bed by midnight, but Nina had to be back at work at 3.30. Hard living!


Turnagain Arm outside Anchorage is 
covered with ice floats


The container ship was helped by two tugs: 
Kari A
and Junior (in photo)

14.2.2004 Cordova, Alaska
Happy Valentine!
Last weekend we enjoyed the famous Cordova Iceworm festival. There were a lot of happenings - especially contests, such as oyster sucking, survaival suit racing, beard judging and a best T-shirt contest. And of course Miss Iceworm was elected amongst the local school girls.
The most visible and maybe most important happening was the parade. It was attended by various community actors: fire department, Salvation Army, the church, scouts, children's clown school, and naturally Miss Iceworm. We attended the parade with Prince William Sound Yacht Club. A lot of preparations had been made already before our arrival from Finland. Patago's dinghy had got a mast with lot of flags. In one corner we had a big Finnish flag, in another the local flag from Noirmoutier, Sylive's and Jean's island, and on the top the Alaskan 'ursa minor' flag. The dinghy was on a trailer, which was pulled by Bruce's Argo. This vehicle has a Tarzan horn, which delighted especially the kids.
We started to get organised for the parade already two hours before the start. It was pour-raining, so the feeling wasn't very carnivalistic. Finally it was one o'clock and we started to march between the Altiiq Dancers and clown school. In the middle of the main street there was a stage, where we stopped to be introduced - that rare the overwintering boaters are here. The parade was over in 15 minutes, since the Cordova main street is only some 200 metres long.

Iceworms exist in real. These tiny creatures are about a size of a 5 cent coin when streched out. They live on glaciers and feed on algae and detritus. The best temperature for them is round 32 F / 0 C: if it's colder they freeze, and if it's warmer they become mush. The iceworms move inside the glacier according to the temperature: sun will get them disappear deeper into the ice.


Iceworm might have been...

...the hit of the parade, if not...

....the Prince William Sound Yacht Club... 
Foto: Nancy Bird

...international appearance. 
Foto: Nancy Bird

Prince William Sound Yacht Club
From left: Jean, John, kommodor Ken with daughter Nicole 
and Dolores.
Foto: Nancy Bird

Baby Iceworm with blond-Sylvie
Foto: Nancy Bird

The survaival suit race was attended by some ten teams each having four members. They got points not only for speed but also for artistic impression. The race started with getting into the suit and ended when the last team member was in the raft.

John took us one morning to watch Niels feeding eagels. Although you can see these birds every day, it was a great experience to watch them dive down to catch bones. There was a wwwwwhhhhhmmmmm and the eagle was back in the air with a bone.



The bald head eagels get their distinctive white-brown colour when they are two years old.

21.2.2004 Cordova, Alaska
Writing this it's pour-raining and blowing. Nothing to do outdoors. But it doesn't matter, we enjoyed the most beautiful winter weather during the past week. We were hiking and kayaking. The skilift was operating one day, so Hannu was snowboarding without having to climb up himself. Auli made a snowshoe hike with Sylvie and Jean.

By the Sheridan Glacier there is a lake, where the locals go skating. We don't have iceskates, so we were walking on the ice with our skipoles. Magnificient place and gorgeous weather, calm and sunny.

We were six persons and four different "water vechiles" on our little kayak trip to Hawkins Island opposite Cordova. Besides us, Anette, Sylvie, Eric and Bruce, and a single kayak, a double kayak, a rowing boat and a pedaling canoe/catamaran made the trip. We took the double kayak over to the island with Hannu (paddling together didn't go very well), and Auli returned with Bruce on the pedaling canoe, so that Sylvie could also try the kayak. Bruce had his first try in a rowing boat, but the man was too big for the oars, so he had to change with Eric in the middle of the strait.

During one night we got 20 cm/10 inches snow, and the morning was sunny and bright. There could not be better weather. Hannu went snowboarding. Auli was heading to a snowshoe trip with the company of Sylvie and Jean. Very close to Cordova there is a highland area, which is mostly bog and meadows with small ponds and short trees. The area has more snow than sealevel, actually amazingly much, about 1.5 metres/4-5 feet. Two days earlier we were there with Hannu, walking on the snow, that was hard enough to take our weight.
Snowshoeing (a word?) is fun! With the steel "nails" or "paws" under the shoe it's easy to climb up even a bit steeper slope.


It's easy to climb up with the snowshoes. Photo: J-F André

Sylvie and Auli. Phtoto: J-F André

Hannu on the Cordova skihill. Photo: J-F André

A couple more eagle photos. Hannu saw a baldhead eagle catch a seagull on our dock. The eagle let him come very near to watch eating. 

29.2.2004 Cordova, Alaska
When there is the possibility only once in four years, I must date the homepage to this one. Happy leap-year day! In Finland this is the day when women can propose, so go ahead! And if you are turned down, the man has to buy you a present.

Our week has gone outdoors and having good time with two quests, Nina from Seward and Don.

In the beginning of the week we explored more the highlands near Cordova. We followed the snowmachine tracks up to one of the lower peaks. It took us two hours to walk there. The next day we returned, Hannu with his snowboard. Unfortunately, the slope was very icy so it was difficult to snowboard down.


The highlands near Cordova is a wonderful hiking area

Snowmachine tracks and an avalanche at the background


Picnic on ice. For Don it was the first time "walking on water" 
at the Sheridan glacier lake.

 

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