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July 18, 2020: Ideas Day

Idea days don’t amount to a hill of beans unless you do something with the beans. I try, but few of the planted beans actually grow. The odds just seem to be against me. The ideas, they are like waves, each one is an individual but non-discernable from the others.

The best I can hope for is that some of the ideas that I’ve come up, i.e. themes, will be triggers for future writing.

Welcome to the City of Valdez Redneck campground. It was a rather noisy place until 8:00 p.m. when the campground host, a very large fellow with tattoos, drove through quietly on his ATV. Everyone seemed to know who he was. All the sudden, it grew quiet. The sounds of campers chainsawing wood, gunning dirt

Oil tanker the next morning

bike engines, suddenly ceased. And those in RVs then turned off their generators. Will wonders ever cease.

I then ventured over to the outhouse, which was adjacent to my site. A medium sized black bear was to the left of the building, climbing a tree. He saw me and began his downward ascent. I backtracked, fast, to the safety of the road. The bouncer dude was 100 or so yards on my left. I trotted over to him and told him about the bear. He and his buddy told me that earlier, when I made the shortcut from one road to the next, there was a second bear fairly close to me. I think they told me this to reduce my credibility. Bears are bears, right? And, I got the sense this wasn’t his problem – there were numerous signs on trees telling campers that there were bears in the area and to put away their food. And also, refrain from cleaning fish.

I thought this was a pretty big deal, which was why I took it upon myself, in the waning daylight hours, to tell the other citizenry that there was a bear by the outhouse. Like the bouncer dude, they didn’t see this as any big deal. I did. A bear will, if bothered, attack humans. The difference between a brown bear and a black bear is that a grizzly will take your head off while a black bear will content itself with ripping off an arm. I’d give up a limb but not my head.

This morning, first thing, I took a photo, called it “Self Portrait.” It’s of the items in my repair kit, laid out on the site picnic table. I think this was very clever of me.

I called Brian and Judy after doing my photo shoot. They’ve set up camp near a lake, so we won’t, as planned, be doing a hike today.

I’m now nervous, about the bicycle holding up on my ride into town. It would have been good to have a backup. Last night Brian loosened the cable on my rear brake, so that I could get the tire out. I fixed the tire but have not been able to get the tire back in place. grr grr grr.

It’s approximately five miles from here to town. I want to do this ride for then I can say, truthfully, that I rode the entire way to Valdez.

It was an easy ride from the Redneck Campground to my next campsite, the City of Valdez Kayak Launch. There was a downhill grade, a wide shoulder. The sun was shining, and I had a slight headwind.

I stopped at the Crooked Creek Forest Service office, but it was closed. However, to the right of the office was a nifty interpretive display next to a bridge. It was all about the migrating salmon. I didn’t see any, which was too bad. I like watching fish.

I got to town and asked at the world’s largest RV Park if they had any tent sites available. These people were really, really nice and I would have stayed, but there were RVs as far as the eye could see. I also didn’t want to lose a night’s sleep because of the dueling generator activity.

Next stop, Safeway. I got in and out fast, too many stupid people there, not wearing masks. I consider such places to be contagion zones. My foot grows itchy when kids go running by. I just want to trip them. The clerk, who seemed to share my sentiments, told me when I asked him if there was a place to camp, to check out the RV park behind the market.

I didn’t tell him I’d just been there. But I headed back over there, grabbed a picnic table, one built for small people, and ate my lunch. In front of me was a huge RV called the Freedom Express. And behind it, a trailer with a huge ATV. I watched as a young fellow, tall and angular, detached the ATV, off loaded it from the trailer and drove off.

A fellow in a golf cart drove up. He was the one who had told me that sites were available. He again encouraged me to stay put. Then he drove off. I looked around, and I just could not bring myself to do this.

I packed up my remaining food and continued on, checked out the Valdez suburbs. The Keystone Motel was close by. There was a no vacancy sign, but I decided to inquire anyways. A young fellow first said that there were no vacancies, but when I said I was bicycling said a room was available. I gulped when he said the cost was $114.00 and said thanks anyways.

As did Mr. Golf Cart, he suggested that I camp at the park down by the ferry terminal. Two recommendations – I decided to check it out. I checked it and the City of Valdez Commerce and Civic Center – not sheltered enough, this was my verdict.

I cruised around for a few hours, then returned to the park and ate my dinner. By now, I was feeling like a homeless person. Not good. After eating, I resumed my search and came upon the City of Valdez Kayak Launch area. It was ideal, or so I thought. There was a nice level space up on the retaining wall, and a tree that would cut down on visibility.

Clandestine camping, you get what you pay for. Across the way there was (I discovered) a wedding party going on. The bass from the dance band was going strong and continued to go strong until 1 a.m. And I also had to contend with, of all things, an oil tanker that appeared at the dock offshore (a few hundred yards). It was noisy. This I might be able to handle. But then the lights went on. I’m not talking one or two dim lights but dozens of very bright lights. My tent was lit up like a prison after dark.

I finished reading my Malcolm Gladwell book by the light of the tanker. When, finally, I did doze off, some local kayakers appeared, walked their boats down the ramp, and went for a paddle.

Was it worth it, to forego paying $114.00 for a motel room and having gotten a good night’s sleep? Sure. This because it was my last night of travel. If it was my first I would have thought differently.

Next: 199. 7/19/20: Down by the Dock

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