Here’s more about that boat tour we took from Seward, Alaska, along the Kenai Fjords National Park. It was such a highlight of our summer in Alaska that I want to document as much of it as I can. Previous posts about this one danged day are about the orcas and glaciers we saw.
Port of Seward
The ship we we were on, The Spirit of Adventure, is with a company called Major Marine.
It’s a catamaran, which allows for huge passenger areas outside, which we loved. We spent all our time (except for eating lunch) on that upper deck in the back. We stood looking out front and to the sides, depending on where fewer people were standing and where the least wind hit us.
At first everyone was crowded up there, but as the day wore on and the wind and cold got to everyone, they found spots to sit on the decks or in the heated inside, which left more unobstructed views for us. When I’d go inside to grab a new camera battery, it would look like a mortuary with bodies sleeping all over the seats. Seasickness? Dramamine drowsiness? This tour costs a lot of money to sleep through, that much I know.
Seward Harbor where we left from is huge, and the water here on Resurrection Bay never freezes, so it’s open year-round. Tracy and I have enjoyed walking the docks, wondering about all the commercial and charter fishing boats and their gear and admiring the yachts. Two cruise ships are docked here, and their passengers crowd to the restaurants and stores in the small harbor town.
Even just leaving the harbor was a lovely experience, with so many sailboats posing for my photos.
We travelled beside the shoreline of the Aialik Peninsula and several rocky islands in the Gulf of Alaska and the bays flowing into it.
Actually, if you don’t know where this is, here you go.
The jutting-out rock islands were startling to see with the Gulf of Alaska all around. Seagulls and puffins circled them, and several of the almost 200 species of birds in the park were on the water or nearby. These islands seemed like little ecosystems of their own.
Temperate rainforests grow at the water’s edge of the Harding Icefields, and we saw a very few people kayaking and sunning themselves right at the shores.
Puffins were a big treat; neither Tracy or I had seen them in the wild. I had a hard time getting photos though. Either people were in front of me, or the boat was rocking, or there was sea-spray on my lens.
I really wanted to get a shot of the tufted variety; this photo is Doug’s (they took this same tour a few weeks before us and recommended it).
Steller sea lions crowded rocks near the glaciers, honking at each other. We’ve seen them in the Pacific Northwest but somehow out here they seem even more wild.
The same with harbor seals. Seeing animals living on iceburgs under glaciers somehow trumps every other environment.
This sea otter is facing away from the boat, but look at its adorable feet. Hunting them is the reason Russians and Americans came to Alaska. Their fur is the densest of all animals, and they were once super abundant, so much so that hunters would kill them and leave them to sink if they couldn’t get to them. They were hunted almost to extinction, and now that they’re back, they face the usual set of hurdles in our world. The captain of another of Doug and Melanie’s tours claimed the Exxon Valdez oil spill was good for the animals here and that there is no such thing as climate change. Alaskans live in their own world, we’ve come to learn.
On a positive note about humans, I met several interesting people on this tour. A couple from Bethesda, Maryland, oddly! A couple from Inuvik, near Arctic Ocean, who had lived there for 20 years and said they were done with the winter; they’d bought an RV and were hitting the road. I also spoke with a new fulltime traveler who had lots of questions, and after an hour of talking with him between spotting animals and gazing at glaciers, he said that that was the longest conversation he’s had with anyone since hitting the road. Dude, prepare yourself.
Okay, I’m am finally finished documenting this one day! I’d anticipated it greatly, and it was all I’d hoped for. The orcas really were a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. In fact, here’s an orca photo from that previous post, just because I love thinking about them.
Thanks for your patience as I revel in this day.