A weekend adventure guided me to Valdez, Alaska.
The only hair-raising part of the jaunt was driving through a cloud which hung over the mountain not knowing if there wasa drop off on either side of the road or not. I was almostin a cold sweat when the road started droppingdown and the cloud disappeared.
From the 1964 earthquake, there was still a boat
lying halfway on the mountainside that had been
stashed there from the tsunami which struck little Valdez.
The entire town was wiped out and rebuilt
farther to the west of the inlet.
I found a friendly neighborhood
wooden floor covered with peanut
shells bar and danced the night
away. I wore every partner completely
out because I could polka all night
long and this is exactly what I did. They
had a live band playing and each time
that it came to the end of the song,
the band looked at me and continued to play
until I was just puffing.
Long before the pipeline ever reached Valdez
or the second gold rush got started
(Alaskan oil), long before the destructive
oil tanker spill in Prince William Sound,
my little escapades happened. By the way
Valdez, Alaska is pronounced
Valdeez. Long e’s.
I drove westward up a dirt canyon road
which kept going and going like the
battery operated bunny. Finally, I
stopped and started a little camp fire
to roast a hot dog for a picnic.
The only ones who enjoyed the
picnic was thousands of mosquitoes
so I ended up eating inside my car
with all the windows rolled up tight.
My mother had flown to Anchorage for a
visit. I drove southward on the Kenai Peninsula.
Westward toward the inlet were little
wooden cabins half sunk into the
ground (another reminder of that
8.6 earthquake in 64).
Our first stop was Portage Glacier which
can be seen from the road.
On our way to Whittier to catch the Alaskan ferry,
we came across the Russian Orthodox Church.
A settlement of Russians live on the Kenai Peninsula
keeping mostly to themselves. They had left Russia
seeking a place of religious freedom. When they
came into Anchorage to shop, they stood out just
like the Amish. The women wore long 1890’s
dresses with their long hair bundled high on
their heads in twists or braids or hair styles
unseen in this day and age.