Monday, August 22, 2011


We spent five days in Seward, Alaska -- most of them watching a relentless rain. It was sunny and nice when we got there, and we had a spectacular view of Resurrection Bay:
Once the rain started, we switched from scenery ogling to doing indoorsy things -- such as the Alaska Sealife Center, an aquarium and wildlife research center in downtown Seward. They had displays of fish and crabs,
Sea mammals (unphotogenically cavorting outside in the rain) and seabirds, including Horned Puffins,
And a "touchy-feely" tank, where John got to play "Sistine Chapel Ceiling" with a noodly-appendaged sea anemone:
We tried to do laundry, but there was only one laundromat in the entire town. This was a yuppified combination coffee shop/laundry, and they had a grand total of three washers and three dryers (but plenty of lattes, cappuccinos, and muffins). When we got there, two washers were taken, and we had around seven loads. Plus, it was $3.25 a load to wash. We left, vowing to "go commando" if need be instead of spending hours and a fortune to get clean undies.

On the day we left, the weather was clearing up nicely, and we could see a cruise ship in the Seward harbor. The large, blue crane-like apparatus next to the ship loads coal from train cars into cargo ships that then head out through the Bay of Alaska to the Pacific Ocean, eventually to deliver the coal to Japan or Korea.

When we drove to Seward, we remarked on the beauty of the fireweed along the road. The magenta flowers were bright and vivid, and often surrounded by huge heads of lacy, lime-green cow parsnip. Fireweed flowerettes begin opening from the bottom of the plant in spring, and move upwards during the summer. Some of the fireweed flowerettes had almost reached the top of the plant, an indication that fall is very near.
After the days and days of rain, the fireweed flowers are now all but gone. This is what the plants looked like as we left Seward:
It is not yet the end of August, but summer is almost over in Alaska. The fireweed, previously a magenta blanket on fields everywhere we looked, is gone. The lime green cow parsnips with their huge flowering heads are now brown and drooping. It all happened seemingly overnight. The tourists have also fled, taking their share of salmon and halibut, all shipped home or safely tucked away in freezers. We can tell it is almost time for us to also be heading south. We have one more stop to make in Valdez, and then we'll start the long journey back.


Judy and Luke Rinehimer said...

In Valdez be sure to go over to the fish hatchery. We saw grizzlies and stellar sea lions feasting on the salmon waiting to go up the fish ladders. You can dry-camp along the channel between the hatchery and the pipeline facility. We camped at Glacier View campground near the airport. With the tourists leaving you might get some nice spots downtown.

Sharon Del Rosario said...

I wish we could have stayed as long as you did. But I know it's sad to see the fireweed dying down - it's so beautiful! Hurry back to the lower 48 before the snow flies!

ladynomad said...

Seward was my most favorite place of all when I spent the summer in Alaska. Loved sitting with the windshield pointed towards Resurrection Bay. Sounds like you've had a great trip up north. Did you make jelly from the fireweed?