Oh baby, did it feel good to get up this morning and not have to drive for the rest of the day. We were lulled off to sleep last night to the sound of a steady rain beating on the roof of the RV, and awoke to a gloomy looking morning, with low clouds hanging on the surrounding Chugach Mountains. After a leisurely breakfast however, the clouds began to break and the sun shone through. It was quite a sight to finally see all of the mountains that are around us.
We ventured off with John and Diane to view the town of Valdez. It's a modest size town of 3,976 people. It's economy depends on the oil industry, the Prince William Sound fishery and tourism. The history of Valdez is interesting, with it's early inhabitants being the Chugach Eskimo and the Ahtna. They used the area for fishing and trading. Captain Cook sailed here and named it Sandwich Sound. This was changed by the editor's of Cook's maps to Prince William IV. In 1897, gold seekers came to Valdez to follow the "All-American route" over the Valdez glacier into the interior. From 1900 on, Valdez became recognized for it's
strategic military location. In 1940 it was a major port for military freight during WWII. On March 27, 1964, a 9.2 earthquake, lasting over 4 minutes struck 45 miles from Valdez. The quake triggered an underwater landslide creating tremendous waves that washed away the Valdez waterfront, drowning 30 people on the dock, and 3 men on a steamer along side. When the town was condemned in 1967, due to unstable ground, they relocated it 4 miles to the east in a planned community, which was unheard of at that time. Fire considerations and snow removal had a big impact on the outcome, considering an average of 300 inches of snowfall annually.
There are 3 museums in Valdez, and we went to all three. The first was the Maxine and Jesse Whitney Museum. It contains an array of Alaska animal mounts that are impressive. In addition, there were prehistoric artifacts, Native dolls, eskimo kayaks, and a one-of-a-kind collection of native carved ivory.
Next we went to the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive. This was a very impressive display as well, with loads of local and State wide artifacts, and films on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the clean up
efforts, and the effects on the local economy and ecology.
Last stop was at the "Remembering Old Valdez exhibit and museum. This facility had many artifacts from the Old town of Valdez, as well as a comprehensive video of the 1964 earthquake and a detailed model of the original town site. Again, very well done and interesting. The staff at all of these facilities deserve honorable mention. They are extremely friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
We took a stroll down Harbor Drive, taking in the vast fishing fleet and stopping to enjoy a nice hot chocolate at a local shop. Arriving back at the RV park, we had lunch and then took a well deserved nap, as it had started raining once again. At 5 pm, the "Bird Man" returned, and the eagle feeding took place. Got some nice pictures this time.
After a nice cocktail hour with snacks, we walked a couple of blocks to the Old Time Diner, and had a nice dinner of seafood. We then hit the local grocery store and wine store to replenish our dwindling supplies and headed home. Leaving here tomorrow and beginning our trek north once again.
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