We spent an afternoon in Anchorage, doing some shopping. It probably sounds strange to go on vacation to shop, but we can’t shop for too much at home!
We hit the usuals, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop, and I found a clothing store in a mall. We hit shopping overload pretty quickly though, so we checked into our room and found a Mexican restaurant and a couple of burritos for supper. I had no idea I was so hungry, but I ate that burrito like I hadn’t eaten all week. I don’t even have photo evidence, other than the wall of the restaurant, and my beer for checking into the Untapped app, ha!
Anchorage is a seemingly nice city, with a big airport and large jets coming and going. We stayed near the airport and watched some of the planes come and go. Felt like a city though, and we were ready to mosey on the next morning towards the Kenai peninsula.
Here’s a map to help you see where we were, in case you aren’t familiar with Alaskan places.
I couldn’t find accommodations we liked ahead of time in Homer, so I booked two nights in Seward, and decided we’d drive over and see Homer, and then come back to Seward.
Heading out of Anchorage, we saw some mountain goats up on a cliff. The traffic was steady, buses, motorhomes, trailers, trucks. Non stop. We didn’t mind because we had heard the view from Anchorage to Homer is incredible and it is easy to spend all day doing the drive and taking pictures.
Uhm, no. It wasn’t so.
It was a long drive in Parry Sound, long weekend like traffic. There were some nice views of fireweed growing all over the hills, but there were few outstanding look offs, and I didn’t take a single photo along the way to Homer.
We heard about the Homer spit where everyone camps and there are many tourist things to see and shop.
Turns out, it really is a spit of land, and there are about 10,000 campers and people. A total zoo. Not our scene. Jeff didn’t even get out. I hopped out to pee and we turned around and left as soon as we got there. Here are a few quick phone shots as we navigated the bumper to bumper traffic to get out of there.
On the way to Homer, you travel over the Kenai river and an area popular for fishing. Was it ever. The river was an incredible shade of blue. But people were practically elbow to elbow fishing it. It seemed a bit perverse really. Were these all Alaskans on summer vacation? Or were they letting these tourists just rape all their natural resources in exchange for a few dollars and then fly home? Is this why it seems rare for a salmon to make it to the Yukon now?
We stopped for a few more photos on the way back to Seward. The sun came out and there was more beauty to be seen this time!
When we got closer to the Seward cut off, the non-stop traffic, … well it stopped! And so did we.
We wondered if there was an accident ahead, which wouldn’t be a surprise for all the vehicles. Turns out it was all congestion. We rolled along for 7 kilometres in stop and go traffic all for the intersection so people could turn left to Anchorage. There were two policemen at the intersection directing traffic to help it along!
Soon enough though, we were in Seward and checked into our motel. We talked about Seward and summer tourists with the motel operator. She said it was the nicest place in Alaska 30 years ago, before the cruise ships and tourists found it. Now the community has more opportunities to make money, some working 2 or 3 jobs in the summer, and then in the winter they regroup and see their friends in town again, when everyone else has cleared out. Sounds like Dawson City!
She recommended a couple restaurants for us and gave us some special discount coupons. We headed to the Sea Salt Alaskan Bar and Grill to finally get some king crab legs!
Look at the view from sitting on their outdoor patio!
Their patio was huge! With really comfortable rocking chairs.
I had a delicious piece of salted halibut with grilled vegetables. It was phenomenal!
Jeff ordered two pounds of king crab legs and shared some with me. Oh my goodness they were delicious!
Seward is a gorgeous little town. It looks smaller than Dawson, but looks must be deceiving because I heard there are 3,500 year round residents, which is double what we have.
Ever see a parking lot with a better view?
The next morning was foggy in town. We bundled up and headed to the docks to catch the 6 hour tour boat we had booked.
The cruise ship in town was different than the one the night before, so I’m guessing they leave overnight and the next one comes in by morning.
While we waited for a call to board, a bunch of people had already gone down to the dock and were watching a sea otter ham it up with a big fish he was tossing around.
We went on the Glacier Explorer boat, operated by the Kenai Fjords Tour company.
As we headed out of the wharf area, the fog was still rolling by, sometimes thicker, sometimes higher.
The ship captain was amazed at how calm the water was. Like glass compared to the high swells she normally navigates!
It was cold out there on the water! Of course we sat outside the entire time with a few other hearty souls.
They served us lunch and gave us big thick wool blankets to huddle under!
Look at this cargo barge we spotted in the distance. There are school buses parked on top!
We stopped to take a good look at some sea birds and puffins. Puffins are just a devil to try to take a good photo of!
I’m going to darken the contrast on the walls so you can see all the birds!
Saw a couple sea lions here too!
Many of the birds were on nests. Look closely and you’ll see some fuzzy babies!
Tons of them!
A mountain goat way off in the distance, watching us sail by.
There were other sister ships out on tours too, as well as other tour operators. They all shared a radio channel, and when something interesting was spotted, they all rushed over.
Like for these orcas for instance! They are a transient pod, just passing through the area.
Since the water was so calm, we made good time and were able to go see several glaciers, some coming all the way down to the surface of the water, and some others that were land locked.
We stayed near the largest and furthest glacier for about 20 minutes and saw several large calving events, where the ice crumbles off and smashes, loudly, into the water.
While we were all watching the glacier, a deck hand was on the other side of the boat, attempting to scoop up some iceberg glacier ice to smash up and serve on board.
Our ship’s captain was heckling him as he tried to net a super large chunk.
As we started our voyage back to Seward, the sun came out! Still cold enough to sit under a blanket though!
We saw another pod of transient orcas (killer whales), and then the most amazing sight, of which I have no photos because I was living in the moment. Two orcas started chasing down a porpoise!
The captain said she had only seen it once before, and it didn’t end well for the porpoise.
While the porpoise is faster, the orcas have more stamina. We watched them chase in circles for probably 15 minutes, cheering on the porpoise and he kept leaping out of the way. Unfortunately we had seen so much and travelled so far due to the great conditions, we were really crunched for time because some of the tourists on board needed to catch the train back to Anchorage.
As we were leaving the chase, we saw something maybe even more amazing. A humpback whale! And we heard it! Every time it surfaced, we could hear the whale calls! Most amazing! Finally he flipped up his tail, and dove down, and we headed back to port.
That night we went to Ray’s Waterfront for supper. It’s a toss up which was the most spectacular meal of our trip, because this one was as good as the night before!
It was packed, so we ate at the bar. I had a seafood linguine that had big scallops, shrimp, cod and mushrooms in it. It was so amazing I ate it without taking a photo to share with you. Jeff had the Captains Platter with cod, shrimp, and scallops.
The lack of photos may also have something to do with sampling all the fine Alaskan beers, only to find out later that they were all 6.7% beers! I had a terrific night!
By the way, the Denali Brewing Twisted Creek IPA was my favourite!
The next morning we checked out of Seward and headed back north, through Anchorage again, and up towards Mount Denali, the tallest mountain in North America!
Seward definitely stands out as a highlight of our trip. I think we liked Valdez a bit more a couple years ago, but Seward is a close second.