News for the City of Good Neighbors from City Clerk Norb Huber
I write to you from the lobby of our Best Western Hotel in Valez, Alaska. My dear wife and I have spent the last week seeing the sights in our 49th state. We decided to do the trip on our own and not do the “tour thing”. We have found everything to be a little higher in price up here. Not a lot of rental cars, hotels or restaurants to choose from so they cost about 50% more than what we are used to paying down there in the “lower 48”. But it has been worth every penny. They call this the last frontier and we can see why. Wide open undeveloped land for as far as you can see for hundreds of miles. If everything is BIG in Texas, everything is Giant in Alaska. The mountains are everywhere when you can see them through the clouds. It has been sunny, drizzly, cloudy, cool, warm and everything in between. With 700,000 residents, Alaska only has about seven times the population of Hawthorne but has 663,000 square miles in area for its people to live in compared 5.5 for our city. Alaska has twice the land compared with Texas. Diving this vast state you see God’s creation and not so much of man’s footprint.
Remember the days when grandpa and grandma would come home from a trip and set up the slide projector in the living room to show their travel pictures? There would be slide after slide of beautiful scenery but everyone would be dozing off while they explained all the different places they visited. I don’t wish to bore you with tales of our travels. Since everyone has a cell phone now, we can come home with literally thousands of electronic images to share with friends and family. I’ve learned that even my own children are really not interested in seeing their mother pose in front of one of our national treasures. I will however share that we were one of the lucky 30% of visitors to Denali National Park that actually got to see the tallest mountain in North America, Mount Denali, “the Great One”, which was known as Mount McKinley up until last year when President Obama and congress changed its name back to its original Native American name. Wild life is all over here but if you decide to come up here get a good set of binoculars or a good telescopic camera because the bears, caribou, mountain sheep, sea otters, sea lions, and bald eagles are mostly a long distance away from your car, boat or shuttle bus. We did see a couple of eager beavers cutting down some tall trees right along one of our hiking trails. I would say they were more like loggers chewing through 12” diameter trees with their teeth.
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez, the giant oil tanker, was placed on auto pilot carrying over one million gallons of oil out of this village after filling up here where the great Alaskan pipe line ends. The ship’s captain did not realize that his auto pilot was on when it hit a shallow reef about 25 miles out in the Prince William Sound. The cleanup from the spill took years but there is no visible environmental damage to be seen and the US government has taken many steps to prevent a spill from ever happening again. The other event that Valdez is known for is the 1964 Earthquake. It registered 9.2 on the Richter Scale. It sent a tsunami down the west coast of North America. I was living in Crescent City, California when that title wave wiped out the entire down town of our small community on that fateful Good Friday, March 24th, 1964. It was the largest title wave ever to hit the continental United States.
Hawthorne and the World
We met a young couple from Switzerland on our glacier cruise ship yesterday and was sitting having pizza and a “cold one” back in a small “hole in the wall” here in Valez last evening. A Beach Boys song came on and I asked our new friends if they had heard of SpaceX or Tesla in Switzerland. Not only had they heard of Tesla and X but their father had put money down to purchase a Tesla car. They knew of Elon and Hawthorne. Hawthorne IS world famous. (By the way, the cold ones were pretty good. Even if the weather is in the 60’s, damp and cloudy, a cold one is always good.)
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