Travel Journal

The last instalment from the last frontier

(Wednesday 15 August 2018) by Karen O'Shea
Valdez to Seward

Today was the second sunny day I had since I came to Alaska. And its amazing how everyones spirits were lifted when you are not trying to dry your clothes and wrestle a sopping wet tent. We had an early start to catch the ferry from Valdez to Whittier. One thing I have noticed a lot since I came here, a lot of people we have come across are from the lower 48 and they only come and work here for the summer. So I havent come across many bred born and reared Alaskan!! Funny when I was handing in my passport for the ferry trip, the guy said Oh, Ireland, we dont get many of you around these parts, which was kind of cool to hear, he had no interest in the British I was with.. haha:-):-)

This ferry trip was lovely and comfortable. Comfort is nice when you have been roughing it for a while. :-) The weather was beautiful and the scenery amazing. Got to see some Orcas/killer whales which was pretty amazing. A little different from the killimer/tarbert crossing :-)

We decided to treat ourselves to a hot lunch, because for weeks now I have been eating wraps or breadso so so fed up of it. Just wanted some bacon in a bun, bit of a bacon buttie, pretty simple eh? You would think we ordered off the a la carte menu for dinner from the guys reaction at the tillanyway we thought he understood.:-)

Meanwhile we were still sitting pretty 30 mins later.anyway out comes the chef with our order to the tableoh yeah got the bacon and a bun.but there was a burger and egg in the bun.a plate load of hash brownsand a bonnev of bacon.so so funny. :-):-)

It was great setting up camp that night, the ground was dry, we were dry and so were the tentssmall things made me so happy haha . Camp life is fun, we play a game called cornhole, where you throw bags of corn and try and get them in a whole, simple game but great fun. Have a few beers while chatting and waiting on dinner. We all go to bed by 10 cause you would be wrecked from the full on days we have.


Glacier cruise on Kenai Fjords National Park

Ahhh today was amazing definitely another highlight on this trip. Luckily the weather was greatthats two days in a row that are good in Alaska haha :-):-)

It was an 8 hour boat cruise on the Kenai fjords national park. We saw so much we were really spoiled. Saw sea otters, American bald eagles, seals, puffins and orcas/killer whales. Seeing a family of orcas just swimming around going about their business was truly amazing. The photos I took arent good, so I just stood there and appreciated what I was seeing in reality. Absolutely amazing!! :-)

We sailed around admiring the beauty of the place. Got up close to some glaciers and this was just jaw dropping. To be so close to a big block of ice made our little boat feel even littler. The jagged edges and the turquoise colour of the ice truly amazing. And to hear the rumble of the ice break away from the glacier and fall into the gulf of Alaskawhow!.so chilling to witness!!:-)

And now for the grand finale..got to see a humpback whale! Whooowww!!! Yeah I know I am repeating myself but to see the humpback whale in real life..just breathtaking!! :-)

A fun thing they did on this cruise, I had a margarita and the ice they used they just scooped from the water near the glacier..dont get much fresher..no need for farm to fork here hahawonder how many years old my ice was haha
When we got back to port it was cool to see all the fishermen coming in with their catchsome of the fish were bigger than me haha :-):-)



Seward
Seward is quite a nice port town. The campsite was in the forest which was really nice. I didnt feel like doing a six hour hike today so I stayed around. There was a resort across the way so I hung out there, free tea, free wifi, tv and a lovely warm lounge. I just walked in like I was a guest..haha. :-p Was talking to a lady who was out fishing with her buddies, her friend caught a 167 LB halibut, 6 foot in height. That is just a crazy size fish..:-)


Soldotna

The days are flying by real quick. We drove three hours from Seward to Soldotna. Our plan for today was to go bear watching in the Kenai Peninsula. We took a seaplane for half hour out to the peninsula, this was really cool, saw some wolves just looking up at us. The plane was tiny, only 8 of us on it. When our pilot spotted the wolves he did a sharp right so we could get closer..oh dearrrr.haha:-)all I could see were us heading towards green treeshahanot great for the heart..haha. We then took a boat around wolverine creek in search of some bears in the wildernessWHOW!!!!! NOT DISAPPOINTED:-)

Bear spotting
You cant plan or expect to see bears. You can only hope. They do what they want, when they want. Our guide told us he saw none the day before. Oh the luck of the Irish or whatwe were treated to a real bear show. We saw four in total. Literally from the minute we got there, we were just so spoiled. They were amazing to truly see, to actually see them for real, and not in a zoo or circus, to see them on their turf utterly mind blowing.:-)

We followed one brown bear for hours; he was just plodding along in the water. I did think he was cuddly until all 42 stone of him got out of the water and sat on the embankment. Whow absolutely massive!!! We were so close, maybe 5 or 6 feet no exaggeration(I will post pics to prove haha). We could hear him breathe.:-):-) OMG his paws and claws..whowwww!!!!:-)

I stopped taking pictures after a while because this moment was something special. Just to be able to witness this and try and take it all in. I was pretty speechless to tell you the truth!:-)

I didnt think it could get any better, but it did. Spotted two more bears, a brother and sister hanging out upstream. They were kind of funny just play fighting with each other in the water. Again we got real close. Before I ever came to Alaska I had this picture in my head which represented Alaska to me, and that was bears catching salmon heading upstream. And I now was witnessing it for real!! Just to watch them scoop up a salmon take a bit and discard it again. (see what I mean about the poor salmon getting a raw deal).
To say it was absolutely wonderful would be such an understatement. Today was such a highlight for me. It was just brilliant.:-):-):-)

Highlights
there were so many, obviously getting so close to the bears, kayaking through icebergs, fishing , seeing mousse, orcas, a humpback whale, just seeing Alaska in general, some random gas stations where people want to know where you are from, camping out in the wilderness away from the busy world, this trip had it all and a nice bunch of people to see it all with.:-)

I did laugh sometimes along the way at how much we had to BEAR PROOF everything, and all the signs saying BEAR BEWARE.bla bla bla, but after seeing a bear so close yesterday, I honestly never realized how big they really are. Seriously had I met one of them when I was coming out of the toilet in the middle of the night..think it would be more then the bear shitting in the woodshahah :-):-):-):-)

As I said seeing all this wildlife was never guaranteed on this trip. But we were really lucky and got well spoiled. I thought about whether I would camp on a future trip or not, a few days ago I would have said no but I think I would do it again. Its great comradering around the campfire, cooking dinner, having a beer, playing a game. You miss all this if you book into hotels; I dont think you would bond as much as a group. At times setting up camp when it was bucketing down wasnt great but overall camping in the wilderness in Alaska was pretty god damn awesome my friends.:-)

I will sign off for now from the last frontier for the last time.:-)
Who knows where I will be blogging from in the future guys..
Until next time..take care of each other:-):-)

 


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