Sunday, July 29, 2012

A "Steller" Day

The Alaska SeaLife Center is non profit, world class marine research facility. We visited this aquarium and marine life rescue and rehabilitation center that is on the shores of Resurrection Bay one day while in Seward. What a great place to see steller sea lions, sea otters, puffins and other sea life up close and personal. There are many exhibits and around 170 different species.













Below is another of the many murrals in town.


We went to dinner one night and both had different halibut dishes but were not impressed at all. Another day we bought some halibut and with the help of a Rachael Ray recipe on the Food Network site, made a delicious meal of poached halibut with tomatoes, basil and a wine based sauce. We thought fish would be cheap up here in Alaska but not at all. Very expensive so far. We were going to do a charter but we are not really interested in fishing and probably are going to skip that adventure. We really love this town and had a wonderful time here including having our campground be close enough to walk into town. A pretty walk that includes planted flowers as well as wild flowers.







The 9.2 earthquake had a profound effect on Seward which was one of the towns that lost the most lives due to the tsunami that resulted from the quake. Most of the waterfront and harbor were destroyed and it also had an effect on the sea life some of which never did come back to this area.


Below a waterfall taken with telephoto lens from right in town.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Sensory Feast - Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour

Tuesday we made reservations for the 7 1/2 hour boat tour. I first picked Wednesday but then changed to Thursday. Well, Wednesday morning the sun was shining and we did spend a nice day just enjoying one of the rare days of seeing the sun up here. Wouldn't you know it, Thursday morning we woke up and looked out the front window to see nothing. Totally fogged in. Uh oh. Why didn't I stick with Wednesday. By the time we started our walk to the harbor, it was clearing up some what. I will say up front we did have an amazing day, with fog, clouds, and yes some sun as well.

Kenai Fjords National Park is 600,000 acres with breath taking views and wildlife and we saw it all. We haven't had the best of luck seeing wildlife on our other trips but right away we saw sea otters and not long after that our first whale sightings in Alaska.




We didn't see them breaching but were happy to see what we did of them. We saw both humpback and orcas. The views were majestic with the fog and clouds adding to them.





Another whale sighting.

And sea birds and steller sea lions. In colonies between Aialik Bay and Nuka Island, about 56,000 adult breeding birds representing 17 species crowd the ledges and treetops and borrow in the side of the cliffs. We saw common murres, black legged kittiwake and puffins among others.






Another whale.

We pass a number of small islands on our way to Aialik Bay and the glaciers we will see on this trip.


The glaciers are part of the Harding Icefield, the largest icefield located entirely within the US and one of the main reasons the park was established. The Aialik and Holgate glaciers are tidewater glaciers which terminate at sea level and calves directly into the water. Watching the calving is amazing as you first hear what sounds like thunder followed by the cracking of ice which falls into the sea like a waterfall. It is hard to explain what a sight it is to see and hear.




Some kayakers enjoying the glaciers. Other tour boats as well.



Aialik Glacier below has a face of 300 to 400 feet.

Love the blue coloring of the glaciers.

The boom and echo of the splashing ice can be heard from miles away.


More great views on the way back. We have sitting inside the warm cabins and so are in and out as we take pictures and enjoy the views outside and then pop back in the cabin to get warm. We were served a delicious lunch of prime rib with cranberry horseradish sauce and salmon along with rice and salad. As on our last boat tour there were rangers aboard giving interesting information on what we were seeing.








This whale kept on hitting his fin into the water.



John Burroughs, a well known naturalist, once wrote, "I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order." We certainly did that today.