Thursday, August 09, 2012

Alaska–Day 85

Alaska and Alaskans. 

Alaskans are tough.  When we are inside with the heater on, they are inside with the windows open.  When we wear a heavy coat outside, they are often in short sleeves and flip flops.  When we come inside as the temperature hovers in the low 50s, they sit outside—talking, eating, relaxing.  They love being outside in summer.  Is it because of the long, cold, dark winters?

Fishing and being on or near the water is really important.  It seems everyone owns knee-high rubber boots.  I wonder if we could even buy them in Colorado or Arizona?

Alaska is our largest state, with 571,951 square miles.  It ranks 47th in population with 686,293 residents in 2010.  With all that territory, there are only 1,747 miles of highway that most tourists drive (us included).  There is an additional 160 miles of the Taylor Highway which those people who go to Chicken and Dawson City also drive.  (We didn’t.)  So, this part of the road trip isn’t that great.  It is just getting here from anywhere in the lower 48 that entails so many miles.  We spent one month driving through Canada.  We will have been in mainland Alaska almost seven weeks when we leave here Tuesday.

A whole lot of people come here mainly to fish.  Here in Valdez there are lots of campsites that include outside cooking equipment to smoke fish and can it.  The same is true near the Kenai River.  We see large chest freezers, as well as and smaller ones, next to RVs and in the bed of pickup trucks.  A lot of Alaskans do that, but so do people from the lower 48.  Two sites from where I sit, there are folks from Nevada with a smoker and several cases of canning jars.  Others, of course, take their catch to the local fish processing plant to have it frozen and shipped home.

Our time here is coming to an end.  We leave Valdez tomorrow, enter Yukon Territory Tuesday, and Thursday go to Haines in Southeast Alaska on the Inside Passage.  On Aug. 20, we board the Columbia, one of the Alaska ferries, for a three-and- a- half day trip to Bellingham, Washington.  We’re ready.  It has been a wonderful trip.  I would say the trip of a lifetime, but it is our second time here.  We have seen and experienced so much and loved almost every minute of it.  We also look forward to going to familiar places, Colorado and Arizona, where we can sit still, rather than travel.

It will take a week or two or more before I can effectively blog on the overall experience.

Today was a work day—laundry, groceries, yoghurt making, propane.

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