Marjorie Jordan had been to Alaska 12 times already, but there was one thing she wanted to see and touch before macular degeneration permanently robbed her of her eyesight: the Alaskan Pipeline.
Jordan, 81, a Long Lake Township resident, traveled to Alaska on Sept. 11-19 along with friend Genevieve Rudolph, also of Long Lake Township. They visited Jordan's daughter and son-in-law, Andrea and James Walker, who live in Palmer, Alaska, north of Anchorage.
The foursome decided to spend a few days following the Alaskan Pipeline, from Glenallen to Valdez, Alaska, where the pipeline ends in southeastern Alaska. They traveled more than 400 miles round-trip throughout the Alaskan wilderness. Most of the roadside stops, which are few and far between, already were closed for the tourist season, said Jordan.
Genevieve Rudolph (left) and Marjorie Jordan, both of Long Lake Township, took a roadside break while following the Alaskan Pipeline. In this interior region of Alaska, there were few rest stop areas, just wilderness.
Jordan, who is now legally blind because of the macular degeneration of her eyes, said she had been on several cruises and other trips to Alaska, but she always thought it would be fun to follow the famous pipeline, which runs for 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska to Valdez in southeastern Alaska. The pipeline, completed in 1977, makes up nearly 20 percent of the United States' domestic crude oil production and it provides about 80 percent of state government funding in Alaska.
Jordan had seen a portion of the pipeline from a distance in Fairbanks, Alaska, soon after it was constructed, but thought it would be interesting to follow its path to Valdez and see the pipe close up. She has some vision but it is impaired because of her eye condition. She was excited to get the chance to get up close and touch the pipeline.
Marjorie Jordan traveled more than 400 miles by car round-trip to spend three days driving along a segment of the 800-mile Alaskan Pipeline, an Alaskan landmark she had always wanted to see.
"It was something to see," Jordan said of the pipeline, which is 8 feet wide. "There were a lot of people from Europe, California and other places who were traveling along, too."
After Jordan and Rudolph returned from their trip, Jordan said she was shocked to read in the newspaper how Alaska's most violent earthquake hit this remote area of Alaska's interior, shutting down the Alaskan Pipeline temporarily and making 6-foot-wide cracks in the highways she traveled on. The earthquake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, making it one of the strongest ever recorded in the United States.
"I'm glad I wasn't there," said Jordan with a laugh.
Moose, like this mother and calf, are often found grazing in the yard of Marjorie Jordan's daughter and son-in law, Andrea and James Walker, of Palmer, Alaska.
Still, she would like to return to Alaska if her eyesight doesn't grow any worse.
"It's such a big state you can go there many times and never see it all," said Jordan. "The people on the cruises are missing seeing the interior of Alaska. You don't see the country, meet the people or experience the true wilderness. ... I just didn't think I'd get another chance up there because of my eyes."
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