On Thursday morning we woke up to snow – lots of falling snow. We ate breakfast at the hotel and decided to attempt a drive to Exit Glacier, which was nearby. The park services website said all the roads were open, but when we drove up Exit Glacier Road, we found that one of the bridges was under construction, so access was a no go.
No matter, we headed back into town, and stopped for coffee at Resurrect Art Coffee House Gallery – a very cool coffee shop housed in an old church. There was lots of local arts and crafts for sale in there – after a browse around, we left and walked over to the Sealife Center.
The Alaska Sealife Center was a really interesting place. The only cold water marine science facility in the western hemisphere, the center rehabilitates injured marine animals. There were many educational exhibits, including one on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which was really enlightening. And then there were the animals – there are lots of animals in residence at the Sealife Center, from birds, to sea lions to fish. There are labs you can tour, as well, for an additional cost. It didn’t seem like there was a whole lot going on while we were there (you can look through windows down into the labs), but from what I could see, and from what I read, it seems like the Center is doing a whole lot of good for many marine animals in the area.
After the Sealife Center, we spent a bit of time exploring downtown Seward – which pretty much consists of one block of restaurants and tourist shops! Many of them were closed for the season. I wonder what the shop owners do the rest of the year? And how do they make a living in the off season? There was, strangely enough, a yarn store! We went inside, as I was hoping to find some native Alaskan fiber – but there wasn’t much stock, and most of it was stuff I could get anywhere. We investigated a number of the tourist shops, and picked up some stickers and some homemade fudge. Then we headed back to the area of the hotel (about a mile away near the entrance of town) and had lunch at the Railway Cantina. Halibut tacos with pineapple salsa! They were so good!
Just a note about the food here in Alaska – it is expensive! Most everything has to be flown into the state, so its no wonder – but even the native fish is on the pricey side. Most every meal I’ve had here so far has run me at least $25. Most entrees cost that much. It is the state with the highest cost of living, and I’m seeing why! That being said, all the food I’ve had here so far has been delicious. If I’m going to pay out the nose for food, at least its been tasty!
Later on that evening, we went for a walk along the rocky beach to the historic start of the Iditirod. The Iditirod is a 1000 mile sled dog race that has been taking place for years and years. It used to run from Seward to Nome – now the race starts in Anchorage. The trail along the beach was lovely. There was an old boat launch and pilings sticking up out of the ground that looked very ghostly. I imagine Seward is a bit more hoppin’ in the summer, but at this time of the year, we were pretty much the only ones around – save for maybe one dog and its owner, and one motor home.
As we left the hotel for dinner that night, I told Ryan I was going to leave my camera in the room. My shoulder was killing me from carrying my camera bag around all day. I said to him, “since I’m leaving my camera, I’m sure we’ll see a moose.” Well, not five minutes later as we were driving down Exit Glacier Road, what did we see? Yep, a moose. He ambled slowly in front of us across the road and then settled in a field alongside the road to eat some grass. I did manage to shoot a couple of bad photos with my phone.
When we woke up in the morning it was still snowing hard and we began to doubt that our cruise on the Resurrection Bay would be happening. But then the precipitation started to lighten up. We walked over to the cruise line office and it was open and they were checking people in. I guess a little snow is no big thing in Alaska! We set out on the Resurrection Bay at noon and were out for four hours. It was overcast and misty, but we still managed to see otters, sea lions, two bald eagles and a pod of porpoises that swam alongside our boat! Sadly we didn’t see any whales, but it was nice to be out on the water for the afternoon (despite the choppy waters near the mouth of the ocean!). The skies started to clear as we returned to Seward.
When we got back to “port”, we packed up the car and began the 80 mile drive north to Girdwood, where we would spend the next two days at the Alyeska Resort. More on that in the next post!