Day 1

I arrived in Valdez (pronounced “Valdeez” not…um…”Valdez”) on Saturday morning and was met by Dawson Moore, the organiser of the conference who very kindly gave me a lift to my B and B.

I’m staying in “A Place on Coho”, which caused some trouble with customs.

“Where will you be staying, sir?”

“A Place on Coho.”

“And what is the place called?”

“A Place on…look, let me just give you the PO Box number.”

It’s a beautiful place run by Bob and Diane Gibb. Bob met me at the door and patiently explained that my room wasn’t ready yet because, you know, it was SEVEN AM.

I apologised to Bob, explaining that I had become dislocated from the space time continuum and that time no longer held any meaning for me.

I also told him I could phase through walls if he would like to see?

Bob very kindly asked me to come back in a few hours (better man than me) so I decided to explore Valdez.

Valdez is like Helena Bonham Carter, beautiful and weird.

It has a different feel from anywhere I’ve ever been. It’s incredibly quiet. It’s amazing to stand in the middle of a town of three thousand people and still be able to hear waterfalls in the distance. In Dublin everything is clustered closely together but here there is just so much SPACE. The roads are huge, the cars are all big four wheeled drives and there are no traffic lights. I assume the thinking is that because the roads are so wide and you can see for miles in all directions, if you get hit by a car you deserved it. Then there are the rabbits.

They are everywhere and I suspect they are secretly running this town.

I’ve learned that this is actually the second Valdez, the first having been devastated by a massive tsunami in the sixties and rebuilt by the Army Corps of engineers on a safer location. For this reason a lot of the civic buildings like the government offices and the high school (GO HUSKIES!) are rather utilitarian prefabs. But the houses are all incredibly unique, with no two looking alike.

It really looks and feels like nowhere else.

I got good and lost, contemplated going on a nature trail, saw the sign instructing me what to do if I encountered a bear, decided walks are lame anyeay, demolished a steak breakfast at The Fat Mermaid and returned to the B and B where my bed was now ready and waiting.

I am not too proud to admit I wept.

I was supposed to register for the conference and maybe see a show but instead I slept twenty hours.

Whaddya gonna do?


  1. Valdez looks like beautiful place! Incredible mountains. It was calming just looking at your pictures! Loving that rabbits are everywhere too. They definitely look like they’re running the show. 😉

  2. I need to visit Alaska one day. I get to see the Appalachians every summer, but I feel like it’s not a real mountain unless it’s high enough to have snow at the top even when the surrounding land does not.

    And of course anyone who lives near real mountains sneers at the Appalachians as mere hills.

  3. I’m not saying doing a whole “Who’s on First?” routine with customs would have been smart but I think it would have been fun.

  4. Great to hear from you Neil, sounds amazing! You write with such humour. Great to a few laughs on an already stressy day! Your “Sainted Aunt” Caitirona

  5. Of course you were out of phase with time. In addition to the flights, you’re also in Alaska at a time when it never gets dark.

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