People surf in Alaska! We met some young volunteers with AmeriCorps who work there on government owned park lands, and surf on their days off. And the guy in the photo below, Ben Yenter, lives there full time and surfs year round (in a wetsuit in summer and a drysuit in winter). The owner of Alsek Air Service, who flew us on a tour of the glaciers and mountains around Yakutat, also surfs all year. Could be the same guy, I'm not sure.
Several of the tallest mountains in North America can be seen from Yakutat. Very small, about 700 people, but a great place to visit. The people there were all very nice and easy to talk with.
The locals are few, but tough. The weather is usually cloudy and raining, sometimes worse, and that is in the good half of the year. The rest of the year it is icy and snowing. They got around 8 - 10 feet of snow this year.
We took with us on the plane trip up there a new, bright orange life preserver ring for a fishing boat that needed one in Yakutat. TSA personnel were actually amused, as were most of the flight attendants and crew we ran into in the Portland, Seattle and Anchorage airports. A few other passengers stopped us to ask why we brought it as well. People thought we were just a little more afraid of flying than the average passenger. I told everyone it was my version of a security blanket.
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We had a really good time in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which is in the southwest corner of the state. It was the home of Butch Cassidy before he joined the Sundance Kid and formed their gang. Butch was employed in Rock Springs, as a... you guessed it! A butcher! That is how he got his nickname. The gang had a hideout near the town for years.
In the early 1970's, the town was suddenly flush with oil and oil money, and there happened to be some corrupt local and state politicians who took advantage of the money and the times. They took bribes and allowed a lot of gambling, prostitution and drugs, among other things.
We talked with a guy whose best friend started managing most of the prostitutes when he was 17 years old because his father, who had been managing them, was murdered.
The scandalous times lasted until about 1983, when the oil money slowed drastically, and most of the major crime and political problems went away as well.
No politicians were ever convicted of a crime, and some residents still wish it was a wild town like it was during that decade.
We we there during the Sweetwater County Fair in Rock Springs, so we had to go. We watched calf roping, herd cutting, and all kinds of stuff. We actually had a great time at the fair. People there were really nice as well. About everyone we met in that town was friendly.
And at the fair we got to see a concert by:
They were great! It was an excellent concert outside of an enormous and lively beer garden, and after playing for a couple of hours, they stayed for a couple more hours signing anything any fan wanted to bring up, and talking with anyone who stayed around. Nice guys.
That's enough for now, I'll catch up a little more later...