Friday, June 22, 2018

Day 20 Valdez

The bear appears out of nowhere.  We are hiking a trail that is essentially in the middle of a berry patch.  Like morons, our bear spray is back in the Airstream.  This is a sow and I am worried that her cubs are nearby.  Mama bears are very protective of their cubs and will do anything to protect them.  I tell Sharon to not run.  Whatever you do, do not run.  Stand next to me so we appear to be larger to the bear.  Maybe she will just go away.  I talk as calmly as I can to the bear to assure her that we mean no harm.  She doesn't seem to understand.  The bear is now getting highly agitated and I fear she is going to charge.  I avoid making eye contact.  I remind Sharon not to run.  You can't outrun a bear.  I scan the ground for anything I can use as a weapon.  Nothing.  Not that I could get to anything fast enough.  Suddenly, the bear lunges towards us but stops just as fast.  Bluff charge.  We remain in place.  It's like our feet are set into concrete.  Couldn't move if we wanted to.  The bear charges again.  This time it's no bluff.

My eyes are open in a flash, the dream now just a memory.  I reassure myself that all is well and we are safe and sound in out little RV.  I find my phone and check the time.  6am.  OMG, it is Friday morning, it's 6am and Sweet Cheeks Bakery will soon be open and selling cinnamon rolls.  I quietly get up and get dressed.  I go up front and sit in the passenger seat and peruse the internet while I wait for the appointed hour when sweets from heaven will be available.  It's now 6:45 and I glance over at the little Airstream trailer that has been converted to a tiny bakery.  Fifteen minutes now.  Wait!  What is this?  There is someone crossing the parking lot towards the trailer.  I see that the door is open and the awning has been deployed.  I grab my money and exit the van heading for heaven.

I approach the service window and am second in line.  The lady at the RV park says they can sell out quickly and unexpectedly.  I know there is no way they could have sold out before their official opening time.  The other person leaves with their sweet bounty.  I step up to the window and say hello to the young lady who owns the business.  I order two rolls.  She asks if I want frosting?  What kind of question is that?  I laugh and say yes, I do want frosting.  Two cinnamon rolls with frosting to go.  We talk for a bit before I head back.  She tells me that on Friday nights, they have a special opening where they sell a different type of treat.  I assure her that we will be there with bells on.

When I get back to the van, Sharon is up.  I jump in and make the coffee and we enjoy our Sweet Cheeks treats.  They were so good.  Can't wait until 6pm tonight!  Sweet Cheeks Bakery is officially located in Fairbanks but they come down here to Valdez in June for about 6 weeks each year.  If you are not here during that time, you will have missed out and will need to make the trek to Fairbanks in order to acquire these tasty treats.

So, after our breakfast, we convert our van from bedroom to lounge and we are set for the day.  The weather is still pretty raw with fog and light rain.  We decide to walk over to the docks and see if any boats are back in with their daily catch.  There are also lots of eagles hanging around.  On the docks, there are fish cleaning stations with drains that carry the guts and skins down to a receptacle where the treasure is deposited for the birds to eat.  There are lots of birds waiting around for breakfast.

There is a lot of activity at one station where several fish mongers are cleaning fish.  One guy is working on the huge halibut.  This fish has got to be 5' long.  The filets he is cutting off this fish are humongous.  The filets are rinsed and packaged and sold right there on the dock.  The buyer loads them up into his truck and heads off for some restaurant someplace.  Fresh halibut is highlight of most menus in Alaska but be prepared to pay handsomely for it.

We continue our walk down the dock and watch some guys launching their boats.  It's always fun to watch people backing up a trailer.  Seems like some just never get the hang of it.  We see a park across from the dock area and head over there.  We are looking at the estuary when I hear a voice from above.  I can't tell if this person is talking to us or not.  I look up and see a person sitting high up on the hill overlooking the same body of water.  He seems agitated that we are there so we move away.

There is a sign board nearby that shows a hiking trail that takes you up to several viewpoints overlooking the bay.  We decide to try it out.  I can't hike like I used to but can do short trails.  This one is a loop trail about 2 miles long.  There is a short, steep climb to the top and then it levels out.  We are in a berry patch and are both nervous as cats in a roomful of rocking chairs.  The brush is very dense and there could be bears in there and we wouldn't be able to see them until it was too late.  We make our presence known and head towards the viewpoints.  Unfortunately, due to the over growth and the fog, we couldn't really see too much.  So, we continue our hike and eventually end up back at the beginning of the trail.  No bears.

After lunch we decide to take another walk into town.  It is a small area to walk and you can get to most everything on foot.  A bicycle would be nice though.  We visit all the gift shops and one outfitter who has quite a selection of boating gear, camping gear and hiking stuff.  We don't find anything we need so head on.  We hit the visitor center and then head back to the van.  Sharon did score another birch bark basket in this one store.

We head back to the van and relax for the afternoon.  Sharon heads out later to hit the IGA for some supplies and also finds a beer store for the important stuff.  Soon. it is time for Sweet Cheeks again.  We head over a bit early so we can talk to the proprietors a bit more.  I noticed that they are staying in the RV park directly across from us in a travel trailer.  We talk to them about the trailer and their business and really most anything.  They are very friendly people and have a pioneer spirit with a willingness to try most anything.  They are both native Alaskans from Fairbanks but did try a stint down in California.  After that they moved back to Alaska and started the bakery.  They are pretty popular both here in Valdez and Fairbanks.

We acquire our desserts which is a variation of a cinnamon roll.  They call them Friday Night Bites.  So good.  I wanted more.  Lots more.  We stay awhile and talk to the other people as they arrive for their treats, it was a lot of fun.  I am getting fat.  Can't figure out why though.

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