Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Valdez, In The Rain

We spent a few days in Valdez, mostly in the rain. The indoor museum was a slam dunk -- not only was it a dry place to be, but it turned out to be quite interesting.

Most people know Valdez because of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. But this was not Valdez's first brush with disaster -- the town was severely damaged in the 1964 earthquake that devastated Alaska, and was eventually moved 4 miles away (to its current location) because the ground here is more stable. The original town sat on what is gravelly glacial run off, and when the shaking started the loose soil made the damage much more severe.

Oddly, both disasters happened on Good Friday, exactly 25 years apart. I'm sure Friday, April 18, 2014 will be a "hold your breath day" in Valdez.

The museum has a model of the original town:

The detail is amazing -- down to people's private junk heaps and women hanging clothes on the line. Each business and each person's house has been recreated and named:
Valdez is almost totally surrounded by mountains and glaciers, and there are abundant waterfalls where the glacial melt finds its way down to the the sound:
We drove a few miles out of town to Worthington Glacier:
Do you notice anything odd about this photo (other than the total lack of any type of sunshine or warmth)? Here is a close-up of the area in the center of the photo:
One chunk of ice developed this very noticeable "face" -- and did it within the 4 days before our visit, according to a woman in the gift shop. This is a good example of pareidolia, a phenomenon that happens because our brains try very hard to make "something," especially faces, out of random patterns.

Next blog: The Columbia Glacier

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