As I mentioned in the backstory, it took a few months to get back on track from what had happened when we first got here, but we managed. As Daryl delivered fuel locally the rest of that winter, soon spring came. I set freelancing work aside again and started dock life as a seasonal worker at the fuel docks. The kids had their things going, so we continued to split the apartment because, at that point, it made more sense. After all, we were hardly at the apartment anyway.
I have done many things to this point, but working on the water was a very new thing for me. As far as being labor-intensive, it was an easy enough job with long hours. (I volunteered for the overtime) In addition, Daryl and I got to cross paths during the workday and catch 5 minutes here and there that summer since we both worked for the same company.
At the time, the docks opened at 6 am, and I would get there at 5:30 in the morning to get everything going. Many times there were already boats lined up waiting during the peak of the season. Summer is the busiest time of the year here, regardless of what part of the state you’re in.
My favorite part of dock life was the dogs, however. There is no shortage of pups.
Thanks to a co-worker, I learned quickly that keeping snacks was an absolute necessity!
As shown above, I managed to get a picture of one of my favorite dogs one day. As you can tell, he’s waiting for a snack!
A regular customer used to come in a small craft with a black lab. She was so excited one day as he pulled into the dock that she jumped off the bow and swam to the dock. Both she and I were soaked by the time we got her out of the water. With permission from her owner, she got an extra snack.
All in all, I enjoyed this job. I got to meet many people and learn new things with the various vessels that would come in. That ranged from law enforcement, the Coastguard, commercial fishing boats, to families who had come from all over the state to stock their freezers and tourists.
Working on the docks in Valdez involved friendly people (for the most part) and beautiful views on the days it was not raining/misting. (Still pretty, just not as pretty)
The Salmon runs bring people in from all walks of life, and with the Salmon, you have the Sea Lions. I had a healthy respect for Sea Lions once I saw them in action. They kept me on my toes, literally. Losing my balance and falling in the water was not something that I cared to experience with them just a few feet away (and at times right next to the dock)
Working the docks had no shortage of wildlife. The sea otters are a constant thing, even when it’s a high traffic time. The ravens, crows, and seagulls are always around you. I loved watching all of them and their habits. There would be the occasional black bear alert, and the Salmon runs, of course.
Once summer faded and the company I worked for needed a person who was on call for the winter, I did that as well. During the winter months, the customers fade away from the fishing vessels, guides, and tourists into calls for our Alaska State Troopers, Coast Guard, pilot boats, and spill management vessels, for the most part. There were a few calls from people living at the marina for both fuel and heating oil as well.
This was an experience that I will always be grateful for and one that I will always cherish as we continue to Follow Alaska.