On Sunday, June 17th we left the RV and car behind in Seattle and flew on Alaskan Airlines to Anchorage, Alaska.
We had a nice three hour flight and as we approached Anchorage the views out the window were amazing, especially of the glaciers.
We picked up a rental car at the airport and after a short stop for lunch at McDonald’s and the Anchorage Walmart for a cooler, ice and snacks.
We drove two and a half hours on the Seward Highway to the small town of Seward (pop 2,700) The weather was very overcast with occasional drizzle which made it hard to take pictures. It is almost impossible to capture by camera the beauty of Alaska.
Seward, an ice free port, is named for William Seward who negotiated the purchase of Alaska. In January, 1959 Alaska became our 49th state. Seward is best known for fishing, Kenai Fjords National Park which includes Exit Glacier, and is the town where many cruise ships depart on Alaskan cruises.
It is also the home of the Alaska state flag. A seventh grader in Seward designed the flag consisting of seven stars of the Big Dipper and the North Star, a guiding light.
We were very concerned about the weather because the weather forecast said the remnants of a tropical storm (yes, I said a tropical storm) was going to pass through the area the next two days with heavy rain and flooding.
We arrived at our lodge and my heart sank when the owner told us we were booked for a “rustic” cabin in the woods. She repeated it was “rustic” but had heat, a microwave, small fridge and cable. I just had one question and my heart lifted when she confirmed it did have indoor plumbing. Whew! What a relief. I neglected to get a picture of our little cabin in the woods but you can picture it since it truly was a little cabin in the woods. My heart sank again when we went in and it was COLD in there. But we turned on the two space heaters and the room warmed up quickly. In fact at bedtime we turned off both heaters because it was too warm and we never got cold during the night. Our little cabin in the woods was well insulated!
After unpacking the car we headed out to visit the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitors Center located in Seward. Most of the park is accessible only by a long boat cruise and if the weather had been better and we had more time we would have taken the tour. We had even contemplated booking it well in advance and staying in Seward two days instead of one, but since the weather was so bad with the approaching tropical storm, we were glad we hadn’t. The Visitors Center was very small and didn’t have a movie so we didn’t stay long.
Next we drove a few miles to Exit Glacier located in the park and walked the short trail to the closest viewing area. It was drizzling but we put on raincoats and didn’t let a little rain stop us.
Exit Glacier is part of the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains. Even though it is one of the smaller of the Harding Icefield glaciers, it is a major attraction in Kenai Fjords National Park and one of the most visited because of its easy accessibility.
It is named Exit Glacier because it was the exit for the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield in 1968. Whether one believes in global warming and climate change or not, the recession of the glacier is evident. As we walked along the trail, dates along the way indicated where the glacier once reached. For example one date was 1926, the year my mother was born. Exit Glacier has retreated about a mile since 1926. The glacier retreated approximately 187 feet from 2013 to 2014. Needless to say park rangers are monitoring the glacier. A park ranger told us as the glacier recedes more and more, the park is struggling to find ways to continue to keep the glacier accessible to the public by adding more boardwalks and trails.
After dinner we returned to the cabin and went to bed early. This time of year in Alaska the days are approximately twenty hours of sunlight and four hours of night. When we went to bed it felt so strange because it was still light outside. During the night the tropical storm began to pass through and we were awakened throughout the night by heavy rain and wind. But our little cabin in the woods kept us warm and dry.
Next up: Valdez, Alaska