Subtitle of this post – What kind of moron goes on a vacation to Alaska and doesn’t take their camera? (Me!)
Long overdue for a vacation together, Jeff organized and booked a vacation for us in Alaska while I was in Mexico City on work. Just a few days after flying home, we packed up the trailer and headed to Alaska on Thursday afternoon.
The ferry inspector shut down the ferry the day before so we were a little nervous we were going to get across the river! Going to Alaska through Whitehorse would have been an annoying long detour. Rumour has it that the captain’s licensing or paperwork wasn’t in order. On the Thursday, they brought in a relief captain to operate the ferry just for a 12 hour shift during the day (instead of the usual 24 hours), so we didn’t want to wait until the after work rush and took off a couple hours early.
Rather than just staying in Chicken again, Jeff booked us into the RV Village in Tok, Alaska. We had nice drive through spot, so we didn’t even have to unhook the truck. The campground is really nice, treed, and super clean. We had water and electric hookups, and some free wifi!
That first night we got the trailer all set up, food and supplies unpacked and organized, and I hung up all my clothes in my closet (I like the bathroom closet, nice and convenient).
The service engine soon light came on as we were crossing the border into Alaska. Jeff had a suspicion it could be the air filter, and boy was it dirty! We stopped at the NAPA in Tok the next morning, and they didn’t have the right one, but one of the gas station’s lent their air compressor to try to blow out some dirt.
The drive was pretty uneventful. We stopped in Glen Allen for a few groceries. Their grocery store’s deli counter makes the biggest freshest sandwiches! There is a tourist bus that stops there for the sandwiches, so I followed that bus mob and did the same.
The Tok NAPA told Jeff the NAPA in Palmer likely had the air filter he needed, so we stopped there too.
In Anchorage, we tried to get to the Cabela’s for a bit of shopping. Unfortunately a train said ‘no’.
We waited and waited. Then the train stopped. And never reversed. Just sat there. Every other car on both sides had turned around. Eventually, after 20+ minutes, I got out to watch for traffic and Jeff backed the truck and trailer back a block, up a blind hill, and turned around.
The train was still blocking the road an hour later after we had each shopped a bit at Cabela’s!
We got into Seward by about 8pm. Jeff had booked us a spot right on the water! No services, but look at this view!!
This cruise ship was just heading out of the harbour as we were setting up our site (# 835).
The “campground” was just narrow trailer spots with a number on the concrete parking barrier, but that was fine! We were right on the rocky shore in a big gravel parking lot. There was a walking path from our parking lot in both directions. One way headed to the harbour and shops. The other way went along the shore along all the other parking lots, full of trailers and vans and tents, down to the far end of town, and the aquarium and older part of town.
Some of the sites had full services, but the rest all had that walking trail between the campers and the beach. We didn’t. It was perfect! If you’re going, look for the Marathon municipal campground, the one without services, and book a spot along the water. There is a septic dump and water available across the street.
It’s so remarkable that Dawson City was so close to getting rid of its campground in town. Seward has in town spots available for hundreds of people. Then you can walk everywhere, dine, eat, take boat cruises, go on a fishing charter, or hike. It seems like these campgrounds are run by the municipality too. No one is on site – you have to book and pay in advance online and print your own info sheet for your window. Perfect!
I could sit here on this shore and watch the boats all day long every day. It’s fascinating! So many fishing boats start heading out at 6am and there is a steady parade of them for an hour. Then the tour boats start heading out. Then other large vessels come and go, and tug boats. I was trying out some of the free marine traffic sites that let you click on a boat on the map and tell you where they are from, where they are going, etc. I love that!
It was a cold and windy few days. But we didn’t seem to care. It is July so we didn’t use the furnace either. Just had lots of blankets. Even Hank who did this himself:
And I may have tried out the new sleeping bag liner I bought at Cabelas, to use if I’m ever tent camping (or backpacking) and it gets really cold.
I slept in it all night! haha
I made one mistake though, that I hinted at earlier.
I didn’t bring my camera. Just my iPhone. I didn’t have much prep time between my travels, and I already had too many tech things packed I decided I didn’t need it.
Wish I had it. But I didn’t. So these iPhone pics will have to do!
Unfortunately I was still having gut trouble from Mexico City. And so are many of my coworkers who were there with me. We did a short hike that was in town together, but that had me in the outhouse after, so it was looking like a longer hike was probably not in my future.
A US Coast Guard ice breaker came in to the harbour that afternoon. The Healy. My app said it came from Seattle.
Less than an hour later, a big barge headed out, stacked high with… everything! Seacans, trucks, boats, equipment. It was pulled by a tug boat.
That night, Jeff took Hank for a long walk while I walked over to the marina area to check out the touristy shops. I got there just as some of the fishing charters were weighing up their catches!
If you’ve ever wanted to hear the most boisterous, chest-beating, egotistical people on the planet, hang around while a fish charter weighs up their catches hahaha. They were so proud!
The next morning, another big loaded barge was headed into the harbour with two tugs.
Jeff and Hank decided to go for a hike down the coast a bit in the afternoon. I wanted to, but my guts and stomach cramps weren’t going to co-operate, so I decided to visit the Seward aquarium. Called the Alaska Sealife Center it is a sealife rehabilitation facility with an aquarium and interpretive centre for the public. The ticket price to get in was not cheap, but it helps pay for their rehab work, so that is nice.
I learned about a lot of Pacific ocean creatures, many of which were in aquariums.
Look at the lips on this pretty fish!
They had several low aquariums too for people to touch the creatures! I didn’t have the heart to be one more grabbing hand poking at a poor starfish, so I just watched.
There were also three resident seals and some sea lions to visit outside, and a big enclosure with birds (including puffins!) and fish in the water. These were all two stories high so on the bottom storey you could watch the fish swimming, and the seals carrying on in another tank.
I timed my visit right for the seal’s lunch time! These seals aren’t able to be released again, so they are working on making them tame so they can be fed by hand.
Outside there were many tanks of various sizes where wild birds and mammals were rehabbing so they could be released back into the wild.
After the Sealife Center, I wandered the shops in that older part of town as I wandered back to the campsite.
There are many old stores in Seward, that were never made modern. They are like stepping back in history!
Jeff and Hank had a successful 6km hike and met me at the camper just 15 minutes after I got back.
On the final night of our visit, we decided to go out for dinner to Ray’s Waterfront, the same restaurant we ate in 3 years ago when we last visited Seward. I ordered the same thing, and it was just as good as I remembered! First we had calamari and a crab artichoke dip to start:
Then I had the seafood linguine and Jeff had the halibut.
And we had some local Alaskan brews of course!
And we shared a berry crumble for dessert!
For our last night, we finally attempted a campfire with some bundles of wood we bought at the Safeway grocery store.
It was a lousy fire with lousy wet balsam poplar. I think they had one nice spruce piece in every bundle, so you don’t notice the rest isn’t spruce.
The whole visit in Seward was chilly, mostly because we were along the water. Dressing in layers was key! But not once did we turn on the furnace. So proud of us haha!
We were both sad to leave Seward, and will definitely return again. It was a chilly wet drizzly morning when we hitched up to pull out of town.
I could spend a week on this shore. Next time I’ll bring my camera though!
Next stop, Valdez!!
By the way, American grocery stores are always a highlight of our trips to Alaska. Jeff bought a bunch of things with jalapeño in it, like this!
Overall though, we continue to notice the super high price of groceries in Alaska. Much higher than in the Yukon, plus the exchange rate difference!