We had a week off following the engagement in Cleveland, and Ryan and I planned to spend the time in Alaska, doing some sightseeing before our time was consumed by the show there. We are performing “Spamalot” in Anchorage for ten days straight without a day off, so I wanted to make the most of our free time in advance. I’m not sure how much time we’ll have for sightseeing once the show is up and running.
On Monday, Ryan needed to fly back to Green Bay for a few hours to deal with some things pertaining to his house, so I flew on ahead to Seattle. The weather was a bit dodgy leaving Cleveland and lots of flights were delayed, but luckily I made it to Chicago before the worst hit, and from there west, it was all smooth sailing (or flying, I guess!). We had decided to stay the night in Seattle, to break up the long trip a bit. I’m not sure I could have handled being on a plane for ten or eleven hours straight, and I’m sure Tallulah couldn’t have. So, I checked into the Crowne Plaza in Seattle for the night, and spent the afternoon walking around downtown, meeting up with my friend, Bret, and his friend, Robert, for dinner. It was great to see Bret – we’ve known each other for years, having worked together back in the Bay Area, and then he came out and subbed on “Spamalot” last year for a whole month while we were in “Tornado Alley” (Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque). He is tons of fun.
Ryan made it into town before midnight and then we hit the hay in anticipation for our flight to Anchorage Tuesday morning. The next day was lovely and clear out, and to our relief, we learned that the eruption threat level of Mount Redoubt had been lowered from red to orange. It was a smooth flight to Anchorage. There was a lot of cloud cover over the ocean, but then all of a sudden, the clouds cleared, and all I could see was ice and snow. We started to descend, and it looked as though we might land on a field of ice, but then out of nowhere, a runway appeared, and we were on the ground in Anchorage!
We grabbed our bags, jumped in the rental car, and drove to our hotel in downtown Anchorage. After getting Tallulah settled in, we went to Glacier Brew House for dinner. Yum! Our first meal in Alaska did not disappoint. Ryan had halibut and I had cajun shrimp. Also, the beer brewed on site was delicious! We went for a walk after dinner along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. It was so beautiful out. The sun doesn’t set in this part of Alaska until about 9:30pm this time of year, so we had a nice long walk in the waning daylight.
The next day, we began our drive down the Seward Highway from Anchorage to Seward, about 120 miles south. We would be staying in Seward for two days. We planned on visiting the Sealife Center there, and also taking a whale watching cruise on Friday.
I had read that the drive down the Seward Highway was one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska, and that definitely proved true. We pulled over to take photos so many times in the first few miles, that we realized we had better start being more selective otherwise we would never reach Seward! One of our first stops was at Beluga Point, where in the warmer months, you can spot beluga and orca whales. We got out of the car and hiked up some rocks to take in the view of the Turnagain Arm. It was gorgeous.
As we continued on the Seward Highway, we stopped for lunch at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. After eating some sandwiches, we spent over an hour walking around the property, taking photos of all the animals. The AWCC is a place where injured or abandoned animals are brought to be rehabilitated or raised. The animals are kept outside in their natural habitat in large enclosures. It was amazing to be able to get that close to moose and brown bears and elk, and get some great photos. There was a man who worked at the AWCC near the bear enclosure, and he was able to get one of the bears to stand up on its hind legs by bribing it with an apple. It was quite a sight to see. I’m really glad that we had the time to stop at the AWCC – it was definitely a highlight of our trip.
After we left the AWCC, we continued the drive onward to Seward. We arrived in the late afternoon at our hotel and were pleasantly surprised by the pretty view of Resurrection Bay from our room.
We went out to dinner and then for a walk by the bay. The next day…Sealife Center! More about Seward in the next post…