Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Last Day

We only had one day left on our trip. But we do have a long day, since our flight out isn't until late at night. So we linger over the fantastic breakfast served at the Hidden Creek B&B...let me tell you, this place is worth it for the breakfast alone! (although the rooms are really nice too).

After we pack up, we set off towards Anchorage. We will linger along the way. Its a very scenic drive along Turnagain Arm, with lots of scenic overlooks. This one is Beluga Point:
From North to Alaska

We also stop for a while at Potter Marsh, which is a bird refuge. There are boardwalks that lead out into the wetlands, where you can see a lot of different coastal birds and songbirds and such. Songbirds are so small, they are hard to photograph, but I tried:

From North to Alaska

Once we got into Anchorage, we parked the car and decided to wander and shop a little bit. We found we had wandered right into the middle of their Solstice festival. It struck me as such a small town kind of festival. There were lots of kids games, some artists, a bit of local musical talent, and all the other things you might find at a small town fair. I did like the guy doing chainsaw sculpture:
From North to Alaska

When we got tired, we wandered into the Glacier Brewhouse for a beer and a snack. We sat at a table in the bar, shared with some other folks, and ended up having a very fun conversation with them all. One was a recent transplant who was loving his new life in the last frontier, the others were runners who had completed a marathon the previous day. One if the runners was also a photographer so we got to comparing pictures and cameras. It was a very pleasant afternoon. And Glacier Brewhouse makes good beer too!

Afterwards, we sat down for our last great dinner of the trip, at Orso, the Italian restaurant right next door. Highly recommended!

Then it was off to the airport...take may advice, do NOT use google maps to find the Anchorage airport. It took us around the wrong side, and expected us to use restricted access roads to cut across the airport. Good thing we had plenty of time!

Our flight was very long, but fortunately uneventful.

And now we're back home. My cats have forgiven us, the fish we shipped from Homer has arrived, I'm back at work and life is back to normal. Except now I have a bit of Alaska in my soul, and I hope I can go back and add to it sometime soon :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


When we arrived in Girdwood, it was lunchtime, and too early to check into our b&b. So we headed to Jack Sprat for lunch. This place has a very good reputation, and the menu looked good. But the meal was kind of mediocre. We both ordered hamburgers, which came with brie and bacon and cilantro aioli. We were actually tired of fish at this point. But the hamburger patties were frozen and undercooked. And the meal was just kind of bland.

After lunch, we headed to the Alyeska ski resort, where we rode the tram to the top of the mountain.
From North to Alaska

It was a spectacular day, so the views were clear out to the horizon.

Doesn't this look like fun?

Dinner was at the famous "Double Muskie Inn" which has tons of hype, and is reputed to serve the best steak in Alaska. Ugh...they must not eat much steak in Alaska. They serve huge steaks, overcooked, dry, and probably previously frozen, slathered in nondescript brown sauce. Capitol Grill needs to open an Anchorage outpost I think. Maybe the Muskie had great food once, but not now, in our opinion. We did like the kitschy ambiance, and had very good service. Also the wine list is remarkable. So the dinner had some saving graces.

Seward to Girdwood

Well, we're almost done here, just a few more posts. I'm home already and have to get this finished up.
Thursday night we ate dinner at Rays Waterfront again. Todd's king crab legs the previous night were so good, I just had to have some!

From North to Alaska

Friday we left Seward midmorning, saying goodbye to our accomodations at the Falls House Inn. We really enjoyed our stay at the Falls House. Our room was huge, and quiet. The location is just a few blocks from the small boat harbor, so its a place one could stay without a car.

Leaving town, we stopped at Exit Glacier, and took the short walk around the overlook loop. It was nice to take a walk in the woods, and we got a great view of the glacier. Although we are getting jaded by now...ho-hum, another glacier!

From North to Alaska

After Exit Glacier, we continued on the Seward highway, and took the turnoff for Bear Creek. We heard that it was possible to see salmon jumping in a stream, and so we did!
This is hard to capture in a still photo, but here you go:
From North to Alaska

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A little more from Kenai Fjords

One more glacier I am holding a piece of the Northwestern glacier

We have a few more wildlife sightings on our way out.
These are harbor seals, hauled out on glacier ice.

And some stellar sea lions enjoying the sunshine almost as much as we were

The were lots of seabirds too, like this oystercatcher

And another puffin

And we saw many waterfalls

It was a great day. A long 9 hours on the boat, but a great area to see.

Location:Seward, Ak

More Kenai Fjords

At the furthest point on our cruise, we reach the head of Northwestern Fjord, and the Northwestern Glacier. The captain navigates the boat through the ice to get close to the face of the glacier.

The glacier cooperates by calving a bit

This glacier has receded so much in recent years it's barely considered a tidewater glacier. It barely touches the water in front...a real tidewater glacier like Margerie which I posted about earlier, extends 100s of feet under the water. In a couple of years, this one won't touch the water at all.

Location:Kenai Fjords National Park

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kenai Fjords National Park

Thursday dawned bright and sunny. And that was good news as we would be spending another day out on the water. Today we would take the 9 hour tour into Northwestern Fjord, a remote part of the Kenai fjords national park.

Here is our transportation for the day

We were just out into Resurrection bay when these two friendly sea otters swam up alongside

And here is the first of several glaciers we would spot.

We saw both orca and humpbacks. One orca came right up to the boat and dived under. I didn't get a great picture of him, but this gives you an idea how close he was

And here's the humpbacks

We even got a decent bear sighting on a nearby beach

The landscape around these coves and bays is really beautiful. Steep rocks and trees soar up out of the water which is smooth as glass today.

Location:Seward AK

Leaving Homer

Well, our time in Homer has come to an end. I'm glad we decided to come here and stay put for a few days. We've enjoyed our stay, and managed to relax a bit too.

The Beach House B&B was great. The room was large, and comfortable and the view was unbeatable.

So we load up the car, check out of the inn, and I'm thinking "drat, I'm leaving Homer without seeing a moose". As we back out of our parking spot, I look across the street, and yes this is our actual conversation...
Beth: hey, look at that.
Todd: what?
Beth: That funny looking horse over there.
Todd: that's not a horse, dear

We would see 4 more moose along the highway during the drive to Seward.

We did make a couple stops along the way. In particular, we stopped at a bakery in Soldotna called "the moose is loose", which seems highly appropriate and they make great apple fritters.

It rained the whole day, though, so no good photo ops. I wanted to get some shots of the fishermen lined up on the river to catch salmon, but it was impossible to pull over anywhere to get them. The rivers are a funny green color too. I think it is silt from glacier runoff that makes them so cloudy looking, it's very pretty.

We got to Seward in the late afternoon. We checked into our inn, the Falls House inn, and relax a bit before dinner. Just in time to watch the third period of game 7 of the Stanley cup finals!

Dinner is at Ray's waterfront restaurant, which is awesome. Then its off to sleep, so we can be ready for the Kenai fjord tour the next morning.