I have never gone on any vacation before (and I have been on many) that got better day after day. I will no longer be able to say that. Alaska was awesome from day 1 and has only improved with time.
This morning we checked out of the hotel in Anchorage and our destination was Seward. However, had we simply set out for Seward when we checked out, we’d have been here by 11 AM – a little early for check in. So before we left Anchorage, we went over to Potter Marsh. This is a boardwalk set up in a marsh. It’s quite large and well maintained. They even have a “volunteer host” who camps out in the parking lot and is available for help or information. Very user friendly.
When we arrived, it was partly sunny and cool. There were 2 other people on the boardwalk and they left before we’d gotten very far. We basically had the place to ourselves. It was unbelievably quiet and peaceful. We watched the water birds – many with chicks – as they floated along. I took photos of both birds and scenery – what an amazing sight to see the mountains reflected in the calm water of the marsh. As we walked along, we could discern the paths of animals through the grasses and wondered what animals they might have been.
I looked at the trees ringing the marsh and spotted a small white dot in one tree. Grabbing the binoculars, I discovered it was an eagle. We finally reached the deck which was at the end of the arm of the boardwalk we had chosen. In the distance we could see what had to be a beaver pond, based on the dead trees sitting in it. A careful look revealed the beaver’s lodge. We watched for a bit but saw no telltale beaver noses plowing through the water.
Then I went to the back edge of the deck and looked at the tall grasses. I held my breath! In the grasses I spotted 2 long ears sticking up – on alert! It was a moose. At first I thought it was a calf because it seemed so small. I spoke to it quietly, asking after the mother. Suddenly, the moose made her way to her feet and I could see that it was a young female, not a calf. She stood there getting her balance in the uneven footing of the marsh bottom. Then she began to graze, pulling up tufts of long grass as she slowly moved toward our position. That’s right, I said toward us. There was no fear. She ate quietly as we stood even more quietly. Occasionally I spoke to her. After she crossed directly in front of us, she began to move away at a slight angle. I thanked her for sharing her morning with us and she turned around and looked back at us. I took one last photo and she did not move away until she heard the shutter. Then she turned her attention back to the main task at hand – breakfast. We were grateful to have witnessed this moose waking and rising.
We were walking back to the parking lot when we were again stopped in our tracks. This time the eagle which I had spotted in the tree came swooping down. Apparently not to be upstaged, the eagle landed perhaps 100 feet away in the tall grass. Within seconds it rose again abruptly, taking a path directly in front of us to return to the tree. I managed to get a couple of photos which I hope won’t be too fuzzy.
Back at the car, we set off for Seward. We had spent over an hour at the boardwalk at Potter Marsh. It was one of the best hours I’ve ever spent. We now set out on the Seward Highway.
The Seward Highway is one of 13 roads in this country designated as “All-American Roads.” As far as I am concerned, it could be an “All-World Road.” The first stretch of the road we traveled was the same stretch we had traveled on our first day. However, same does not mean there was nothing new. Last time we saw mountain goats on the cliffs. This morning we saw Dahl sheep. There was even a male with huge, curling horns.
We stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This is a zoo-like facility that rescues injured wildlife that would be unable to survive on their own. While many of the species were animals we have seen in the wild, we were able to see a small herd of wood bison that we never would have seen without the facility. The are cousins to the American bison of the Great Plains.
After our visit to the center, we drove along the Seward Highway again – marveling at the high, jagged peaks of the often snow capped mountains. Driving in the valley made me think of pictures I’ve seen of Austria or Switzerland. We stopped at one turnout for a photo. I noticed a paved walkway that descended even deeper into the valley. I decided to walk at least part of the way and my husband decided to accompany me. As we walked along the path, with wildflowers on both sides, we noticed how quiet it got. You could hardly even hear the cars passing by. It seemed as if we were the only 2 people in the valley. I was so grateful that I had started walking on my treadmill again last April. I was able to walk the entire path down into the valley and, more importantly, back up without any panting or shortness of breath. I really enjoyed that walk!
We did hit a couple of stoppages caused by highway construction projects. However, the view was far superior to that we had during the stop in Wasilla and the time seemed to pass more quickly.
Just before getting into Seward, we passed a large turquoise blue lake. It was stunning. It was so still that the surrounding mountains were reflected in it as though it was a mirror. We stopped for a better view.
All told, it took us about seven hours from check out in Anchorage to check in in Seward. That’s why we never listen to the folks who tell you how long it will take to get from one place. It will always take us longer since we like to explore along the way.
We checked into the Holiday Inn Express in Seward. The lobby is lovely. The room is fine, especially the arm chair with ottoman. Oh, I forgot – the room overlooks the small boat marina on Resurrection Bay. That’s right – the hotel is right on the bay. If we walk out onto the small balcony (or even look out our windows), we have a most incredible view. Row upon row of boats, mostly white, some with tall white masts; tour boats; charter fishing boats – all bobbing on the bay. Some have colorful sails furled, some have bright colored flags or buoys attached. The water sparkles. Across the bay, snow capped mountains dip their feet into the water – there is no flatland here. The blue sky is strewn with fluffy white clouds that occasionally kiss the mountains tops as they float past.
Our only definite plan while in Seward is to take a day cruise up into the Kenai Fjord. I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, I plan to sit on the balcony and try to read – though likely the view will be too great a distraction. There will be some walks, I’m sure and probably a few drives. But there will be some wonderful time for rest and reflection.
I don’t know what Alaska can do to top this day, but I have learned never to sell anyone – or anyplace – short.