Monday, June 30, 2014

Seward - Part I

Our plan when we left Anchorage was to wash Opus before heading to Seward.  On the way north most RV parks had wash bays so we were able to get the worst of the road dirt cleaned off.  But since leaving Tok none of the parks have had wash bays so Opus is really dirty.  Our plan changed when we awoke to overcast skies and rain.  Looks like it will be another week before Opus gets a bath.  While in Seward we wanted to take a wildlife cruise, hike in Kenai Fjords National Park, visit the Alaska Sealife Center and check out another local brewery.
The drive down the Seward Highway around Turnagain Arm is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the state.  For us it was low clouds and gray, rainy weather.  It did lift enough to see Spencer Glacier coming out of the mountains.
Seward is one of those end of the road Alaska towns that grew up because of the construction of the railroad.  It is mile zero for the Iditarod Trail that dates back to 1910, long before the race.  It is also a big fishing town for both salmon and halibut.  These local monuments honor all those.
There is a lot of sea life in the area.  The sea otters are so cute floating on their backs to eat.
The campground with Opus in the middle.  We have never stayed in a place quite like this.  They do not take reservations, except for large groups, so all sites are first come first serve.  We arrived before noon and all the waterfront sites were taken so we opted for the third row that is raised and has a great view of the bay and mountains.  When you pay for your stay ($30 for water and electric, $15 to dry camp) you register by license plate number not by site number.  We learned the next morning how people get the waterfront sites.  Early in the morning they walk around looking for someone who is leaving and then place a chair on the site to claim it as theirs.  Kind of like the Canonsburg Fourth of July Parade.
Sure can't complain about our view from Opus overlooking Resurrection Bay and Mountains.  We did not see this eagle catch the fish but it flew right at us carrying supper to the nest.
Seward's small boat harbor.  In the background is Mount Marathon the site of the annual Independence Day race.  The race is "only" 3.1 miles starting in town then to the top, 3022 feet above sea level and back down.  I can't even imagine.  We did a hike on the mountain and tried the race path but it was way to steep for us.  We did manage to get above the tree line on an easier trail.
We did an evening cruise with Major Marine on the Star of the Northwest hoping to see a lot of sea life and some glaciers.  This hanging glacier is just across the bay from the campground.  The blue color of the ice is amazing.
A herd of mountain goats on the cliffs above the bay.  A bit to far away for a good picture.
Looking across the Gulf of Alaska at the distant mountains.
At the end of the bay is Bear Glacier that flows off the Harding Icefield.  This is not a tidal glacier that drops icebergs into the water.
A small island covered with kittiwakes and much bird poo.  Sure would not want to nest at the bottom.
Stellar sea lions soaking up the sun.  We were close enough that we could hear them.
It was cool out on the water, but it was a great trip.  Another tour boat saw a humpback whale but by the time we got to the spot it was gone.
We did get to see a couple of Orcas that are identified by the high dorsal fin and the distinctive white spot.  They stayed near the boat feeding for a long time.
Both of the Orcas cruising through the water.
A Dall's porpoise came right along side the boat.  They often surf in the wake of the boat.
We were happy to see puffins.  These little birds spend most of the year at sea, only coming to land to have their young.
Seward is a stop for several cruise lines.  This ship was leaving port when we were on the cruise.  

We did a couple other things in Seward that I will have in the next post.  It is a neat little town and being right on the water where we could watch the ships and sea life was fantastic.

Up until this time we have not had a real ending date for our stay in Alaska.  That has now changed.  We made a ferry reservation to travel from Haines to Skagway on July 24th.  The ferry trip is only one hour but saves over 350 miles of driving.  When we leave Seward we will be spending a couple of weeks on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula in Ninilchik and Homer.  Then it is a 500 mile trip to Valdez for a couple of days.  From Valdez we will travel to Haines which is 700 miles back through Yukon, across the worst sections of the Alaska Highway.  After the ferry from Haines to Skagway, we leave Skagway where it will be another 700 miles through Alaska, Yukon and BC, then back into Alaska in Hyder to see the bears.  That's the plan so far. 


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post and great images!

Phyllis said...

We are currently in Tok. Took a ride over to Chicken today. We leave here Thursday and head toward Anchorage with a few days in Valdez on the way. We visited Skagway when we were in Whitehorse for a few days last week.