In the Valdez museum yesterday we watched a video about the earthquake of ’68, and one of the narrators of the video was a lady named Nancy Lethcoe. Today, as my dad and I hiked the goat trail through Keystone Canyon, we rounded a corner and found Nancy walking straight toward us.
Nancy was very excited to find to Alabamians hiking on the trails that she helped to clear. She was so excited, in fact, that she made us turn around and took us back to a spot to show us some downed telegraph wires and explain to us the history of the trail.
We asked Nancy about how people made it in a town where a gallon of milk cost $7 and tourism only lasted for a few months of the year. She explained to us that the median income in Valdez is $66,000 a year, but that if you were not a part of Aleyaska, the company that installed the Alaska pipeline, it was very hard to make a living at all.
Another girl that we talked to, who moved to Valdez from Ecuador three years ago, said that she had to work very hard every summer because there was nothing for her to do in the winter.
Much Later That Day…
We travelled from Valdez all the way to Anchorage this afternoon, and on our way into town we decided to stop at the Alaska Botanical Gardens, a not for profit garden located next to Campbell Airstrip and a local school. The Gardens were neatly designed with good walking trails and many small metal tags to identify the native plants that were growing naturally (a.k.a. randomly) throughout the garden.
We decided to hike the garden trails as a way to stretch our legs, but also because we wanted to see the Iditirod trail which circles the garden. We hiked the trails quickly, seldom stopping because of the swarms of mosquitoes that surrounded us.
At one “scenic” overlook, we noticed several cars stopped on the roadway below us. Without paying them much attention, we continued down the path to avoid mosquitoes. As we rounded the next corner, I looked up and there not 12 yards away from me off the side of the trail was a black bear with two cubs.
Without even stopping to take a picture, I said, “hey bear!” and turned around to walk back down the trail where I had come from. My dad and I stopped about 30 yards down the trail and turned around to watch the mother bear who was not paying us any attention in spite of the small size of her cubs.
I took several pictures as we backed down the trail, but I wish I had taken my dad’s advice, and taken a picture of the mother bear immediately as I saw her. A picture of a black bear from only 12 yards would have been a close up portrait with the lens that I had on my camera at the time. I guess my mothers warnings have had their effect on me afterall.