Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Birthday Trip to Seward, Part 3

While I was getting ready to go out to eat dinner, Greg and Jacque went down for a stroll on the harbor. As they were walking, an otter and sea lion put on a show for the visitors to enjoy. They were getting scraps from under the deck where fishermen had cleaned their catch of the day. This otter looks like he has a rack of ribs, fish-style. The sea lion thrashed around and tore his bounty into chunks. Greg also managed to get some excellent pictures of an immature bald eagle. They usually don't get the white head and tail feathers until maturity, which is around 5 years. Bald eagles can live up to thirty years in the wild. These birds build huge nests which can get up to 13 feet deep, 8 feet wide, and weigh over 2100 pounds! There are many incidents where the tree has fallen over because it couldn't bear the weight.

There won't be any blog reports for about 3 weeks because I'm heading home to Tennessee tomorrow for a visit. When I return I will finish up the trip to beautiful Seward.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Birthday Trip to Seward, Part 2

Woke up to a dreary and rainy day in Seward. Made our way over to the Major Marine Tours to sign in for our whale watching boat tour. Got our tickets for a 4 hour cruise and made our way into line for the boat. We settled in at our table and listened to the captain tell us what to expect on the tour, including what marine life we might see and also warning of the choppy seas that we could expect. I had taken my motion sickness meds, Greg forgot to take any Dramamine, and Jacque opted not to take any. We sailed out of Resurrection Bay and soon spotted many sea otters playing in the surf. As we got out into the ocean, the waters became quite a bit rougher. It became difficult to even walk around in the boat. As we sailed on, we saw many beautiful unspoiled wild islands along the journey. You just expected to see a big ole grizz along the coast, but one never materialized. We did get to see plenty of gulls, kittywakes, cormorants, and colonies of loud sea lions. By the time we got to the sea lions, I wasn't feeling my best and had to get out onto the deck. It was cold and rainy, but seemed to help with the motion sickness I was going to experience. Greg joined me there for awhile as the choppy oceans also got to him and many others on the boat. Needless to say, I spent the last 2 hours of the tour out in the cold and rain with Greg there with me most of the time. Jacque got those 2 hours of peace inside the boat, although she later admitted that it made her a bit queasy also. We were both on the deck when we spotted the spouts of the first whales. These massive creatures were fast! They didn't give us an opportunity to get even one photo op! They were so close to the boat I had an awesome view from the deck. They rolled gracefully with the waves for several minutes and then left our area quickly. At first, we thought these were humpback whales but the captain later declared they were fin whales. We had never even heard of fin whales but they are the second largest whale, second only to blue whales in size. It was time to turn and head back and we were accompanied by playful Dall porpoises jumping from the water on the return trip. These look like miniature orcas, or killer whales, with their black and white coloring. They kept us company for quite awhile on the way back. They were so quick and fun to watch. After we docked and returned to the room, I had a hot shower to get feeling back into my hands and feet. Then I took a much needed nap while Greg sat outside on the balcony and enjoyed the ocean view.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Birthday Trip to Seward

Remember to click on the pictures to make them larger.

Time for my annual birthday trip to Seward! We left Anchorage about 11:30 last Friday morning. Our first stop was in Girdwood, about 30 miles down the Seward Highway, for lunch. We ate a scrumptious lunch at Chair 5 restaurant. Checked out a bit of the town, which is home to the popular Alyeska Ski Resort. Then we continued on toward Portage Glacier. It was beautiful with still quite a bit of snow around. I'm sure we'll go back down later this summer so we can look at the beautiful blue colors of the glacial ice once the snow melts. Today, however, it was quite cool and windy. Greg and Jacque snapped a couple of pics and we headed on toward Seward. Once we got a little past Turnagain Pass, it started to snow on us. It continued to snow for several miles! As we neared Seward, we turned and drove out to Exit Glacier in search of wildlife. We drove as far as the Forest Service parking lot and didn't see anything. Greg and Jacque did spot some pretty impressive bear tracks near the bridge. We made it into Seward about 4:30 and settled in for a bit. At dinnertime, we drove up the street to eat at the Apollo. It was pretty yummy and we had quite a feast of different types of seafood. We also had delicious chocolate cake! After dinner, we went back to the room and changed into walking clothes. We walked along the beach in the light rain and had it pretty much to ourselves.