Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 19th Chat on Eve of Departure from Seward

The woman who owns our RV park says that white people in Alaska don’t like to work. This was in response to Mary’s comment that we heard a lot of Spanish spoken in Anchorage. The current generation of young people says, “Hey, I don’t need to take that kind of work”. The owner’s daughter is twenty-five and pregnant and says that she wants to take care of the baby, and doesn’t feel like she should have to work. Mom rolls her eyes. It is difficult to get work in Homer, but her son got a job cleaning the barnacles off of fishing boats, working at night. He is happy with the wages and the free time he gets during the day time. Mom is from here, and lived away only during a two-year stint in Florida, which she hated. She is no longer with the husband that took her there for a military posting. I met her current husband, who re-filled the camper propane tank. He is a nice guy who spends a lot of time sitting on a bar stool watching TV.


We had a “townie” kind of day. We went to the Homer based Alaska Sea Life research institute, where they care for wounded wild life. It is a small scale Monterey aquarium as well and has many wonderful tanks with live fish, King crabs, jelly fish, and others with harbor seals and a very large Stellar sea lion. When we finished with the exhibits we wandered to the other end of town and had a great lunch, peeler shrimp, and seafood salads. Later we drove to the Exit Glacier, an outfall from the Harding ice field. This outfall has receded steadily from its first sighting in 1821. One of the more interesting pieces of research on glaciers is that the scientists have cored many glaciers and they report that the pace of glacial melt has never been as fast as it is now for the last ten thousand years.


The rain continues steadily. We may get a couple of glimpses of the sun in Dillingham when we head that way on June 21st for our visit to the University of Washington salmon research station. A recent paper from the scientists there indicates that the sockeye salmon sustain very high reproduction rates, due to the high variability of their spawning cycles. Several sockeye sub groups make their pilgrimage from May through July, and this dispersion of the species reproduction cycle assures that some will find the right opportunities to feed prior to spawning and good water conditions for running the rivers.


In the morning we will take a final look around here, maybe visiting an Alaska state salmon weir around the corner from our RV park. Apparently several fish a day are crossing the weir.


Communication back to the lower forty-eight has been pretty good, but we are going into the first of our off-the-grid side trips. We will leave the PC and cell phones in Anchorage when we fly to Dillingham, and will begin the use of electrons again when we return to Anchorage on June 24th. Our plans are vague from that point, but we will most likely head to Homer, a good place to base ourselves for a few days of visits to other Kenai Peninsula towns. We also have a sketchy program in mind to visit Kenicot in Wrangell-Elias National Park. This was the site of Kennecott Copper’s first major mine. There is probably a reason why the spelling changed. Perhaps the corporate geniuses decided that more letters in the name means more prestige. Some wag told us that Kenicot is better than Denali because it contains a lot of “funky Alaska”. We are looking forward to figuring out what that means.

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