Spent another quite night at Robe Lake, Valdez. Two vehicles came into the area, drove around in a circle and left. Not sure what they were looking for but there’s plenty of room for others to boondock here. Except for the occasional splash from a fish jumping or a bird landing on the water and some bird calls, it is silent. Because we leave this boondock site very early every morning and don’t return again until late at night, don’t know what goes on at the lake during the day but it is alway quiet when we return. For those RVers who like to sit in front of their RV, whiling away the day looking at beautiful scenery, this place may be perfect.
Yesterday we walked all around Valdez, quickly learning all the streets because the town is so small. It didn’t rain and it was rather pleasant weather with a temp, of about 60 degrees F so nice walking around weather. Early in the morning we saw many eagles and enjoyed observing them perch watchfully, then flying off hunting something they’d spotted from their perch. We’re early risers, a habit I never have really been able to break after working in Nursing for so long. So we are up, dressed and off exploring before most folks have started their coffee in the morning. Spotted a bakery yesterday and asked for a good brown bread…no, they’re out so I say I’ll come back on Saturday. (Follow up: The bakery folks happily agreed I should come back to the bakery on Saturday for some good bread. What they omitted to mention is that they don’t make bread again until Tuesday! Arrrgh!!!) The bakery does a “land office” business so their lack of PR has not hurt their good eats at all.
Spent a good part of the day in the Valdez Museum annex talking with some locals about how they cope with so much snow (they had 38 feet of snow last year!). There are still huge piles of snow in empty lots around town. We were invited to take home as much snow as we wanted as they are expecting more in a few months. Talked to a fellow who has a “boat snow shoveling” business. He gets a monthly amount from boat owners to see that snow is removed from the many boats who’s owners leave the boat and head south for the winter. He says he usually makes a good living, except for last year due to the huge year for snow. A good thing for Valdez is that Prince William Sound does not freeze so when they’re done plowing snow off the streets, they can shovel some of it into the harbor to get rid of it.
The portion of the Valdez museum we visited yesterday is mostly about the 1964 Valdez earthquake that was 9.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake opened a huge crevasse near the shore of Prince William Sound and swallowed the town dock and everything on it (including people), never to be seen again. The tsunami that followed mostly missed the town but so much destruction was done by the earthquake and the town site was considered by the Army Corps of Engineers to be very unsafe, the whole town moved four miles away in short order to a safer location. It’s an amazing story of tragedy, near misses and the rebirth of a town.
Continuing our exploration of Valdez took us to the local library (they have a very strong, free wifi signal that can be picked up even out in your RV). Also toured the small boat harbor, walked to the post office, into some of the residential areas and along Prince William Sound. In our wanderings we met some lovely couples from Iowa, Holland, Belgium, Australia and a happy fisherman who was thrilled to show off his success fishing off the banks of Prince William Sound. It’s alway fun to meet fellow travelers and hear some of their experiences. Seems Alaska is high on the list of places to see and once you’re here you understand why.
Valdez is a hard working little town and most everyone seems to know each other. The town has a wide green way up the middle leading to the school and numerous walking/biking paths. It is said the town originally was built so that children would not have to cross a busy street and in many cases would not have to cross any street to get to school. We asked about school and “snow days”. Both Jerry and I were school kids on the East coast and we loved “snow days”! We’re told they do not cancel school in Valdez ever if it can be avoided. They did have to cancel one day last school year as there was a “white out” so bad “you couldn’t see your hand or a couple of feet in front of you”.
Last night, we went to see the Mama Brown Bear and her four cubs. Though we saw them for a few minutes, the area had so many people there we left rather than add to the congestion. We made plans to come back early in the morning when there would be fewer people around so there should be more bear pictures tomorrow.