Ever the optimists with hopes of improved weather we braced ourselves, donned our rain gear and joined the Kenai Fjords boat excursion into the Kenai Fjords National Park. My friend and travel mate, is a collector of National Parks, having visited many of the parks in the lower 48 she was pleased to learn that she could add three more to her list from our Alaskan Adventure.
Besides rain, very large waves and a few green fellow travelers we saw wildlife, sea otters, sea lions, cormorants, bald eagles and even a gray whale. But the real prize was sailing very close to the face of the Aialik Glacier. This is one of many glaciers in the park not to mention the many more sprinkled liberally throughout Alaska. The sheer size and scale of this glacier was amazing but the sound of it calving into the water was even more so. We could hear the sound a bit before we saw the ice crashes.
The sun does shine in Alaska, just not very often. As we traveled from Seward to Homer the sun broke through with promise of a couple clear days ahead.
What to do when the sun shines in Alaska?…..have another Alaskan adventure to see what is around the next corner. It was a sign that said “See Bears Today”.
Bears on the Beach
An hour flight across Cook Inlet on a six seat airplane and a pilot who looked all of 16 had us landing on the beach in Lake Clark NP inhabited mostly by bears. From the air we saw bears in the water fishing prior to our beach landing. Another sandy take off and landing put us in clear sight of a bear lumbering down the beach toward us….. we waited…..after walking quite close to us, he must have thought better and skirted inland for several yards before joining the beach just beyond us. We were told that these bears have plenty to eat on the island, are not hunted here and therefore do not feel threatened by humans. We did take precautions to stay in groups of three or more because a group of three looks bigger than a bear.
In Homer a wonderful sunny warm day trip on the Danny J to Halibut Cove topped off our trip and my birthday.
A long day on the road from Denali to Seward yesterday, luckily the rain let up a bit and we were able to enjoy the beautiful Alaskan countryside. We were treated by a black bear scooting across the street in front of our car. Where is my camera when I need it most?
The Seward hotel has the most interesting lobby where we are greeted by a menagerie of stuffed Alaska animals. One of my favorites….
Ten foot waves and the warning of seasickness scared us away from our Kenaii Fiords trip today. We will try again tomorrow.
Alternatively we explored a bit more of Alaska.
The Sea Life Center of Seward was quite a find and proved to be a respite from the bad weather. (up close and personal with a local puffin)
Up Close and Personal with a Puffin
Miller Landing is at the end of the road just outside Seward. This multi-purpose business includes boat launch, fishing excursions, campground, boat repair, kayak rental and restaurant, all with a fish cleaning tables for locals to prepare their catch. (Kayak rentals at the end-of-the-road)
Kayak rentals at the end-of-the-road.
A hike to Exit Glacier which comes off of the Harding Icefield was the highlight of our day. As we hiked we noticed sign markers 1817-2010. These indicated the year and location of the glacier and provided an idea of glacier movement as it has receded over time.
End-of-the-road next stop Harding Icefield
It was a treat to peek around every corner for a closer and better view of the vast blue and white ice. The sun even tried to come out.
Georgeanne and I have spent the last two days exploring a very small portion of Alaska backcountry. Wow this state is vast!
We drove from Anchorage to Denali with a stop at Talkeetna, a small Alaska town. Not surprising, it was raining so we explored the town museum and had lunch at West Rib Cafe & Pub. We learned that Talkeetna is the place from which climbers embark who are trying to ascend Denali. They fly from the local grass air strip in town to basecamp in order to get aclaimaited for an average of 21 day trek to the top without oxygen. Not for the faint hearted and more than 40% of the attempts end in failure.
A long day touring Denali park and preserve was informative and delightful. We learned about the history of the six million acre park, the influence of mining and some lore about local pioneers. It was full of surprises the first one being that we didn’t see the tallest mountain in the US. The adventure of visiting Denali park was well worth the trip. On our soggy day tour, we traveled 92 miles to the end-of-the-road on a 12 hour bus excursion.
We traveled on the only road with park access with a local sponsored bus tour not private vehicle (which aren’t allowed past mile 15). Complimentary bus transportation is available from the visitor center. The take away was that this park is vast and remote. Every effort has been made to protect a complete ecosystem. We saw, bear, caribou, mountain goat and moose. And we leave with a new sense of understanding of what a treasure our national parks are.
Wow, this has been a year for travel. A trip to France, England, Knoxville, Tennessee and Cuba all in one year. David and I are taking the advice of our financial adviser to travel while we are still healthy. And …as a friend says “tell the kids, the last check is going to bounce”
So having never been to Alaska, I am embarking on an Alaska adventure with my longest and dearest friend Georgeanne Brown. Georgeanne has been celebrating
Georgeanne in the Grand Canyon
her 80thbirthday for two years and as the January date actually comes closer, we decided that one more road trip was in our future. This is my “on the road” friend who loves to drive and with whom I have taken many trips. We met in 1978 when we had both moved to the northwest and ended up teaching at the same school in Everett. Through her divorce, our swinging single years and my having a child at 38 we have been each other’s rock. Oh the stories I could tell…..
With many road trips in our past we move through the next 10 days with a sense of adventure in our hearts and knowing that the creaky joints and aches and pains of aging will visit us along the way.
We will begin in Anchorage for one night, pick up a rental car and head to Denali for two days. Following that, we have plans to drive down to Seward and the Kenaii peninsula where we will take an excursion into the Kenaii fiords. We have hopes of getting close to some glaciers, if they haven’t all melted. Then on to Homer for a couple more days to soak up the local Alaskan culture. Back to Anchorage for a short tour before heading home.
Georgeanne is a birder so I presume I will be learning the names of certain terns, gulls etc. We will take our walking sticks for some light hiking.
But most of all we know we will enjoy; nature rain or shine, each other’s company, and the opportunity to be able to take this one more trip.