From Portage to Whittier
August 29, 1992
As we approached the train terminal at Portage, we passed this marshy area with dead trees. We were told that this had been a nice forest in 1964 when the big earthquake hit, and that the ground dropped 10 feet during the earthquake. It is therefore now a salt marsh.
Brenda pokes her head out of the car as we sit on the train of flatcars which will take us from Portage to Whittier. It was an interesting process. They backed the train up to a dock where the cars could just drive onto the train, with the car in front driving across the gaps between cars all the way to the front of the train. There were probably 50 vehicles, including motor homes and a couple of tour busses. Most of the 35 minute train ride was spent inside two long tunnels, one well over a mile long. When we emerged from the last tunnel, we saw blue water and were just around the corner from Whittier.
From the train we got clear views of three small glaciers up on the mountains that looked like they had large sand piles on them. It was puzzling until it dawned on me that this was volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt. Spurr on August 18, just 11 days ago!
The car ferry to Valdez was waiting at the Whittier dock, bow open like the mouth of a large fish.
We were soon swallowed up by this beast and were on our way across the beautiful bay. We left about 3PM for the 95 mile trip and were due into Valdez at 9:30 PM.