Valdez and the Glacier of Time and Travel

I was released from my worries this morning Thanks to the combination of Mabel’s land line and my credit union explaining why they blocked my card and no it was ok they could unblock it. (Never go to two gas stations in a row… this automatically triggers the Fraud Alert!)

After that it was such smooth sailing! This post will mostly be about glaciers. Not the politics of climate change but just the beauty and grandeur of glaciers. (I even have one outside my window here in Valdez although you might mistake it for the cloud that it is hanging out with.)

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Some glaciers along the road to Valdez weren’t ones I can fix a name to but I took a few angles of the Worthington glacier. They are all melting at an accelerated rate.

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Rivers are swollen with gray glacial waters.  It gives birth to gorgeous waterfalls too.

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One summer after I’d graduated from nursing school my ex-husband Steven Watson and I came up to Alaska to spend time with his friends Bonnie and David and their daughter Crysanna at their homestead on Day Harbor, the next harbor over from Seward and to go on a tour of Prince William Sound… this was in the 70s. It was the most beautiful and amazing trip I’ve ever been on by water—the only one. Their boat was a 28 foot Bristol Bay double ender that they used for halibut fishing. It wasn’t big enough for all of us so we would sleep on land with David’s huge old rifle in the tent with us. We got to visit incredible islands and communities in Prince William Sound but when we got to Valdez, which was in the middle of the pipeline boom, the harbor master came out and asked for me. My uncle was the Police Commissioner of Baltimore with connections to the FBI and he’d put out an alert. Turns out my dad was born with only one kidney and the other one was seriously infected and he needed surgery. I flew home to be with him–from Valdez to Anchorage then to St. Louis, over the vast glacier just over the mountains to the north.

Nothing of that time is familiar to me here. I remember bits and pieces of that scary day but this does not look like the same place at all. Now it is crowded with tourists, the harbor looks different and the rugged quality is gone.

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Mainly I remember the life teeming in the Sound and how all that was destroyed by the Exon-Valdez oil spill. How I mourned then and how good it is to reconnect with this little outpost of it even if it is completely fragmented by memory, pollution and change.

Tomorrow I have been gone for a month. Tomorrow I turn back toward Tok, then the Yukon… moving slowly back to Skagway and the Malaspina (ferry.) I don’t have any profound feelings to express. This is neither a pinnacle nor a sad thing to be at the pivot point. Considering how worried I was this morning I’m still in the aura of delight and contentment where I want to remain for the balance of this journey, if possible. It’s a very long journey, this reverse direction.

 

 

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