Kenai Fjords National Park
     After departing from Anchorage we had the best time in the Whittier, Alaska area.  Alaskans seem to note that the weather in Whittier is always "shittier."  However, we had great weather.  First, upon arrival at a Chugach National Forest campground I got talking to the campground host.  He told me that I was a "special" guest and awarded me with 2 pounds of fresh halibut which he caught the day before.  Yummy!  Next we took the tram ride up Alyeska Ski Resort where we enjoyed lunch overlooking fantastic mountains and the Turnagain Arm.  Turnagain Arm received its moniker when Captain Cook was seeking the Northwest Passage.  Apparently, while searching for the passage, Captain Cook sailed up the Cook Inlet only to be foiled on several occasions.  As legend has it, when he entered another arm of the Cook Inlet and was turned back he stated, in his log, that he had to "turn again."  Hence, the name Turnagain Arm.
View from Alyeska Ski Resort.
Alyeska Ski Resort.
Alyeska Ski Resort.
Mudflats & Mountains.
Low tide in Turnagain Arm.
     Getting to Whittier isn't easy as there is a 2.7 mile tunnel which needs to be negotiated.  The tunnel is only 1 lane and it must accommodate in-bound car/truck traffic, out-bound car/truck traffic and a train.  Yikes!  We just hoped that nobody screwed up the timing during our journey through the tunnel.  Whittier is a weird yet beautiful town as its skyline is dominated by a giant military building which housed a couple of thousand of soldiers on a secret WW II base.  The setting is on a beautiful harbor surrounded by huge mountains but the town has an industrial feel as it is major port for commercial fishing fleets.
Whittier, Alaska 
Whittier, Alaska  
     My favorite thing in Whittier was the Portage Pass Trail which was a fairly easy hike to Portage Lake.  The shores of Portage Lake feature a fantastic view of Portage Glacier on its descent to the lake.  As I approached the lake a heard a loud crack and a deep boom as I watched the end of a huge glacier calving.  That was wicked cool.
Portage Lake
Whittier, AK
Portage Lake
Whittier, AK 
Portage Glacier
Whittier, AK
     We next ventured on to Seward, Alaska (so far my most favorite/beautiful Alaskan town) where we scored a campsite directly on Resurrection Bay.  The mountains seem to overhang and surround the town and Resurrection Bay.  The bay is full of sea otters, seals and whales but the otters are the stars as they float around on their backs all day either eating off their stomach or comforting their children on their stomach.
A sea otter gives us a show just offshore from our campsite.
Seward, AK
     Seward is the home of the 4th of July footrace to the summit of Marathon Mountain.  The race started years ago with a bar challenge that nobody could get up and down the mountain in less than 1 hour. The challenger finished in 62 minutes and had to buy a round of drinks.  Today the race trail is 1.5 miles and gains over 3,000 feet straight up the face of the mountain.  I took the "safe" 5-6 mile hike to the summit and felt as if there was a lot a deadly exposure over the last mile of the hike. When I attained the summit and looked over the edge to view the race trail below, I could not imagine how anybody could get to the top without technical gear and hand over hand climbing.  Oh well, only in Alaska!
A plane buzzes a runner on the summit of
Marathon Mountain.
Seward, AK
Marathon Mountain.
Seward, AK.
If you look real close you may see our rig on the waterfront.
     While in Seward we had the best visitors...Acacia and Adam!!!  They flew in to Anchorage where we picked them up around midnight.  Although they were exhausted, Acacia still found the energy to jump out of the car and run across the Seward Highway at 2 in the morning to watch a moose eating her dinner.
Seward Brewing Company.
Acacia & Adam set off to explore
Seward's small boat harbor.
     To use a trite expression; if it wasn't for bad luck Acacia and Adam would have no luck at all.  So of course, upon their arrival the weather changed from beautiful to rain for their entire vacation. Acacia and Adam were real "troopers" as they made the most of the bad weather and took advantage of the breaks in the weather.  They were fascinated watching the otters floating by the our campsite and when the rain hit they sat in the rig's cockpit to continue their otter viewing out our front window.

Kenai Fjords National Park.
Kenai Fjords National Park.
Kenai Fjords National Park.
Northwest Glacier. 
     While in Seward we had an amazing tour of Exit Glacier.  We had a guide who provided helmets and crampons so we could safely walk on the glacier and experience its wondrous sites. Walking on a glacier is one of the most unique and fantastic experiences ever as every step reveals another spectacular glacial feature.  And the rain held off until the very end of our tour; so our trek was extraordinary.
Acacia on Exit Glacier.
Seward, AK
Exit Glacier.
Seward, AK
     Our best experience was a 9 hour nature/glacier cruise from Seward into Kenai Fjords National Park.  Acacia grew up fascinated by the movie Free Willy and has talked (incessantly) about orca whales since she was a little girl.  We lucked out with the only non-rainy, partially blue sky of Acacia and Adam's vacation.  We were into the cruise a little over 1 hour when the captain announced a possible orca siting.  It turned out to be a pod of 7 or 8 orca whales with 2 bulls, some females, and a baby.  We were able to have some close-up viewing and even saw one orca breach.

Orcas in Kenai Fjords National Park
     But that wasn't all; at one point we found a humpback whale truly enjoying life as he seemed to breach with every surfacing over a period of more than an hour.  We witnessed heaps of close-up breachings by this frisky fellow.  But that was not all; we saw porpoise, seals, sea lions, a rare red-faced cormorant, puffins (tufted and horned), eagles, and a 3 Fin Whales.  The Fin Whale is the 2nd largest mammal on the planet (the blue whale is the largest) and is a very difficult specie to see on any tour.  But that was not all; we also travelled to the face of Northwest Glacier where we saw multiple calvings including several large ones.  All calvings started with a loud crack and then loud roar as the ice exploded into the sea sending icebergs and waves toward our ship.  It seemed as if we had non-stop entertainment for our entire journey.  Even the captain and crew acknowledged that this tour easily ranked as one of the top 3 tours they had ever worked.  So Acacia and Adam had a great cruise and we finally got her stop stop talking about seeing orca whales!  Of course, she still complained that an orca whale did not jump over the bow of the ship.
Acacia & Nancy start their search for Willy
in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Acacia & Adam.
Kenai Fjords National Park.
Acacia & Adam.
Kenai Fjords National Park.
Alaska waters are a bit chilly and when combined with the
wind blowing off the glaciers, the air temperature is frigid.
A breaching Humpback Whale.
Kenai Fjords National Park.
The same humpback breaches again in
Kenai Fjords National Park.
Notice the sea lions watching the show from the shore.
     Next it was on the Homer, Alaska and it got even rainier.  Homer is another beautiful city with mountains located across the Cook Inlet and the Kachemak Bay.  It is a town built on halibut fishing making activities somewhat limited if fishing isn't your thing.  Homer's most interesting feature is the Homer Spit, a narrow body of land extending 5 miles into Kachemak Bay.  The spit has several camping opportunities and we were able to get another water-view site.  Good thing as on the rainy moments Acacia and Adam were able to sit in the front window and watch whales playing just off the shore.  Once again they made the most of the bad weather, taking a horseback tour, bike riding, walking the storefronts on the spit, and hiking the beaches.
Homer, Alaska
Acacia found a good way to pass the time on a cloudy
Homer, Alaska day.
Our neighbors also gave us some fried halibut which
they caught earlier that day.
Believe it or not, Alaskan King Crab legs are cheaper in Connecticut
than in Alaska.  Since all the prices in Alaska appear to be the same, we figure that Alaska
allows the vendors to get away with a price fixing scheme.
Adam, with Acacia, are preparing to take a horse tour
through Homer's backcountry in search of wildlife.
Great tour--no wildlife, unless you count Acacia.
Acacia & Adam are searching for whales (and finding a few)
from the shores of Homer, Alaska.
     We even attended the Homer 4th of July Parade which turned out to be a fun, classic small town event.
Nancy & Acacia are prepared for the big 4th of July parade in Homer, Alaska.
An interesting parade float.
It turned out that there is no Ms. Homer, Alaska.
I love this photo.  According to the sign on the front of the car, Homer is
one of the top 30 wine towns in the USA.  Since Homer has only 1 winery
I am guessing that the award must be based on consumption!?
     We even hit the Salty Dawg, a local pub and mandatory stop for all visitors to Homer.
Salty Dawg.
Cool local & tourist hangout.
Another Alaska bar with tens of thousands of dollar bills tacked
all over interior surfaces.
     All to soon Acacia and Adam had to leave, but not before getting one more bull moose siting on the way Homer's Airport.  We had a great visit.  Were disappointed that they did not get to see Alaska in all its fantastic glory.  Of course, less than 24 hours after their departure, out came the sun and away went the clouds!  We love those guys and will really miss them.



  1. Wow, they sure packed in a lot of adventure despite the weather! You can't ask for more in an Alaskan vacation.


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