Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Glimpse of Seward, Ak!!

About 8:00 pm the Millennium cruise ship backed out on it's way south.  It was a very slow process, but finally turned and headed off into the clouds.
The tug boat stood by, but I never did see it help the ship at any point.  The tides here move in and out at a high rate of speed and it appears to be pretty shallow.  It probably hangs out in case of high winds.
Morning light yesterday was beautiful as tons of small boats hit the water to go sport fishing.  A few of the big tour boats went out also, all between 6 and 7 am.
We headed to the Library for the wifi, but found it not only closed, but moved!!  The Sea Bean cafe has become the stop of the day for wifi and breakfast.    Later, when the Library opened, we checked out the once free museum ... now $5.00 each.  The building is shrouded in these weird tiles that change color as you drive around, from black to fushia!  It's really very different looking!!  The museum has video interviews and information on the 1964 earthquake tsunami that hit here, as well as lots of local crafts.  
Above town towers Mount Marathon.  Each year they have a trail run for 3.5 miles up and back, usually completed in 45-50 minutes by the front runners.  You can see the light trail straight up from the green to the top.  Once checked in at the top, they run downhill (the more visible trail on the right) to the finish line.  Locals said they lost a man up here last year that was never found.  
A drive around the valley to the far shipyards resulted in a pic of this big guy who had been perched on a telephone pole.  I almost missed him when he flew off.
Boats from the "old" days ... both made of wood, their fishing days are over.  It's a shame, but they will probably dissolve into a heap of rotten wood right where they sit.
Another smaller glacier above the back of the ship yard.  
And THEN Dan took a right hand turn ... just to see where the road ended up.  It was definitely a WRONG turn ... this is the local correctional facility!!!  Jail is NOT where I wanted to go.
Before we read the sign, we saw this huge tower.  Originally we thought it was some type of airport tower ... NOT!  It's the guard tower!  We beat a quick retreat!!
Lunch, according to YELP today, was at Red's Burgers.  The school bus in the back is their indoor seating!  My bacon cheeseburger was good, but the onion rings were even better!!  For $14, it was the cheapest meal we've had in town so far!!  Previously, halibut fish and chips (4 very small pieces) ran $22.00.  Their kitchen is an old bus, as is their storage room and probably their home.
Dan with his usual bacon cheeseburger, eating in the bus!!
This is just because Patty doesn't eat burgers ... mostly!!  AND FRIES!!
They had a visitor from next door .......
Later in the evening, Patty saw this guy floating and eating in the bay close to our rigs.  He floated around for several hours before he got close enough for pictures.  
Right next to us is a small stream coming down the mountain into the bay ... the same one the seagulls were in yesterday.  Tonight, it was swarming with fishermen ... trying to snag salmon.  No one uses bait ... just weights and big hooks.  I've seen on television that the practice of snagging is illegal, but that's what everyone here was doing.  This guy caught a beautiful red salmon!!  Word got out quick and 10-15 guys showed up to try their hand.  The salmon must be gathering for the trip up the rivers, because several different varieties were caught.
Bright and early this morning, the fishermen were back ... and I saw two more dinners caught.

More investigating town today to see what we can see.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Anchorage to Seward, AK

Heading out from Anchorage, it started to sprinkle.  I thought that stuff on the mountains was fog ... turns out it was rain!!  The Alaska Railroad tracks follow along beside the road for quite some way.  
Even with the rain, it was a gorgeous drive.  Wish I could think of some new words to use besides awesome and gorgeous, but there just aren't enough words to express the beauty of this place.
We stopped at Beluga Cove but didn't see any whales.   No matter, we just kept our eyes on the view ... and mine on the road.  The more rain, the worse the road got!!  Dan forgot to mention this section is VERY narrow!!  With lots of gravel trucks hauling to the repair jobs, it got a little dicey from time to time.
Having gone through a couple of "smallvilles", we passed through Moose Pass.  I think I could live here!!
Arriving in Seward, the first sight you see is the Millennium Cruise Ship, getting ready to head south.  The dome car in front is of course Alaska Railroad.  About 8:00 or so the ship cast off, assisted by a tug boat ... but you'll have to wait til tomorrow for those pics.
We are parked right on the bay in a dry camp costing $15.00 per night.  When we arrived, we thought we might not find something, as all the campgrounds appeared to be full.  With the help of the Campground Host, we found two perfect spaces.  By the way, he makes $2.00 a day plus his site, including power.  Pretty cheap labor, but then I guess you have to count the magnificent location.
Here's the view from my front windshield.  Pretty amazing!!!  There is a small creek coming in from the left, inhabited by the seagulls.  You can see the cruise ship in the back and the coal ship on the right being loaded by the blue conveyor belt.  If you follow Orr's blog, this is the same ship!!
Patty and I couldn't figure out what the birds were looking for in the water, but they were fighting and squawking over the perfect rock.
A short drive up a large canyon and we found Exit Glacier.  It's huge and looking beautiful in blue!  In 1815 it was almost to where we are standing.
On the way up, I spotted this cache with the crazy sign.  On the left was a lodge serving a Salmon Bake.  This sign pointed to the lodge on the right hand side.  A little competition maybe???
Back at the rigs, Miss Gracie was posing in the window for Dan.  What a pretty kitty!!!!!
Still spitting a little, it's expected to rain for the next seven days, so we're going to get in all the "outside" activities today.  See you tomorrow!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

We Found Critters Today!!

We decided it was time to get out and about in nature and see what local critters we could find.  Dan said he had his bear spray,  and off we traipsed to see what trouble we could get into.  And boy did we find it!!!
You talkin' to me??
I got an itch!!
This brute is coming right at us!!!  Quick Dan ... the spray!!!  Dan .. DAN???   Hmmm, one down.
Then there was this beauty sleeping under a tree.  We were very quiet as we tip-toed by, snapping a few photos along the way.  Patty wanted to pet the kitty!!
There are otters everywhere around here.  These two and what looked like "mom" were swimming around on their backs having a good time.  

The flowers up here are gorgeous this time of year, and they are ALL in bloom!!  Patty knows what they are, but I lost her back at the tiger den.
There's still snow on the glaciers, along with the beautiful snowy owls.  Just amazing creatures, he looks like he's got his eyes on a rabbit.
Nope ... he was just making sure I was ready for him to pose!!
Musk ox are pretty plentiful.  Not all that big, they are certainly made for snow.  In Skagway, we found a yarn store that had balls of yarn made from the belly hair of the musk ox.  Must be some pretty nice stuff because it ran $99.00 per skein.  Darn, if Patty were here I could borrow her nurse scissors!!
Amazingly, I found the most beautiful snow leopard ever, crawling in the rocks above.
After climbing to the very top of the ledge, a big kitty stretch was in order before .....
Look out!!  Look out!!  She's coming after us!!!  RUN!!!
One big quiet jump and she was almost at the bottom ...  where's Dan and the bear spray????  Where's Patty?? 
Bear spray doesn't work on leopards??   Oh darn!!!  Look at that tail ... it's as long as her entire body!
Just before she bit my fingers off I snapped a quick photo .....       just kidding.  Of course my cohorts were right beside me enjoying this amazing animal.
More beautiful flowers, and ..... 
As you probably have guessed by now, we are at the Alaska Zoo!!!
There were two tiny baby moose, not much bigger than just born.  
Here's dad ... laying in the weeds snoozing.  He could hardly keep his eyes open and his head up!!  His rack of horns is covered with soft velvet ... and still growing.
Behind the baby moose was a nursery/care center with this fox peaking out.   It just amazes me how beautiful these animals are.
And of course the polar bear.  All of the animals here wouldn't be able to survive outside the zoo for one reason or another.  It's nice to see a bear this size, but sad he has to live here.
There were lots of these creatures around too, but my motto is the only good one is a DEAD one!!!  This guy is about half an inch long.  I mean to tell you they grow 'em big here.  
We actually stopped at Earthquake Park first ... got practically eaten alive because we forgot the mosquito spray.  There are no other pictures, because we ran for our lives back to the car!!
We made a quick pass by the airport so Dan could watch the planes take off.  He yelled at me to come take a picture of this 747 cargo plane.  The pilot barely made it ... the red lights are the end of the runway, and he's right there!!  See the black dot in the sky on the left???  That's a bird flying a little too close.
Just another amazing day in Alaska.