Honeymoon Day 7: Seward, Ak

This post is admittedly not about Sprout. In fact, it is pre-Sprout. However, we thought some people may be interested in our Alaskan travel and wanted to move our prior posts to this blog. This is post 7 of 13 in our Honeymoon Series.

Location: Seward, Ak

We hope you’ll excuse us, but we are going to use this opportunity to brag a little bit! Our honeymoon was planned for a two week duration. Before coming to Alaska, we spent 5 days in San Francisco, where Jacqui presented her research at a conference. So, in total, we will be away from home for nearly 3 weeks with several flavors of dress requirements. However, in our travels, we did not check a single bag on our flights, choosing to carry on all of our clothing and other necessities (and a few books for Aaron). We are quite proud of ourselves for this accomplishment (although Jacqui has always been an exceptional packer, taking only a backpack to Peru for two months several years back). However, we decided we needed to take some time to clean up some of our garments, in particular, our hiking clothes due to some of the messy trail conditions we encountered and the cooler-than-expected weather.

We were told about some coin-operated machines out of town some distance near a salmon hatchery, so we drove there to check out where the fish are collected and studied. We were under the impression the salmon runs don’t reach their peak until the late summer, so we were surprised to see that they had already started – the water near the hatchery flume already looked like College Avenue on a home game weekend. If the fish were PSU fans, that is.

The primary activity for the day, though, was a 6-hour boat tour through Kenai Fjords National Park. We snagged some great seats on the upper deck, the only down side was that the boat traveled at 32 knots leaving us a bit windblown. It was a sunny day and we were well equipped (with Jacqui in her winter cap and gloves). We had the opportunity to see marine wild life and an awe-inspiring glacier. In total we traveled about 40 miles through the fjords. Rather than describing it in more depth we will let the pictures speak for themselves. Let us know your favorites.

The Orca Voyager… it lived up to its name!
On the boat about to leave port.
A fjord coastline!
Sea lion diving into the water.
Sea lions resting on a rock.
A horned puffin and other sea birds on a cliff.
A flying puffin!
A bald eagle perched on a tree keeping watch.
A tufted puffin
A view of the peninsula from the cape.
An Orca whale and her calf (more of these later).
In front of the Addison glacier, the smaller of the two glaciers visible from the Aialik glacier basin.

The Aialik glacier, towering 300-400 ft above us, is a tidewater glacier that flows at a rate of 4 to 5 feet per day from the Harding Icefield. 

Aialik glacier
In front of the Aialik glacier
Aaron’s favorite picture of the glacier.
These dangled 400 feet above the vessel.
Icy water at the base.

As we looked up at the glacier, we heard a large cracking sound as ice began calving. The pictures below show the process.

Notice the piece of ice that has cracked and is leaning forward slightly (center).
piece of the glacier about to fall…

and crashing

Already a bit unstable from calving, a little later more ice falls from the same region.

and more is about to fall into the water

That is a whole lot of ice.

Close-ups of the glacier…..

After leaving the glacier….

We saw a black bear foraging on a very steep cliff.
Two humpback whales together.
The humpback up close (see the blow holes up front).
Humpback whale tail.
Humpback whale tail.

Heading back we came across a family of Orcas with at least one calf. After a while, the mama seemed to get a bit frustrated with us and began slapping her tail. The captain took the message and we left the spot to respect the whales. 

A family of Orcas.

The spires.
Nanny and kid mountain goat.
This mountain goat (~1 yr old) was grazing on a very high cliff. It is incredible how these little guys can navigate such steep and rocky mountains.
An otter enjoying his meal.

In the evening we went to a local fish fry hosted by the kayak tour folks and had some tasty halibut and sockeye salmon that they had caught early that day. We mingled with some curious guys who just graduated from Tulane, one of whom just got a job at Los Alamos and the other, whose passion was ancient Greek philosophy and who can actually read ancient Greek. From what we can tell, the saying seems true: that the most colorful people shake out towards the ends of the earth. The time flew by; we looked down at our watches and noticed that it was already past 10pm despite the sun in the sky.

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