We spent part of our time in Cooper Landing reading and writing in the RV (Dale, knitting) as a typhoon from the Pacific blew itself out over Alaska, raining more like it does in South Florida than what we have become accustomed to in the Pacific Northwest.
We took a break from sitting around waiting out the storm in the RV by sitting around waiting out the storm in the Jeep. First, we drove the length of Skilak Lake Road – falsely promoted as having “spectacular views of lakes and glaciers.” Another day, we headed west to the towns of Stirling, Soldotna and Kenai, just to see what was there (answer: not much, they are typical small town America).
Eventually, the rain stopped, although the clouds lingered, and we drove on, leaving Cooper Landing and heading eastbound on the Stirling Highway, then south on the Seward Highway to its terminus at – you guessed it – Seward.
Just north of Seward we pulled into Stoney Creek RV Park where we had a reservation for 5 nights. The place was completely packed because two RV caravan groups were staying there, about 60 motorhomes. Not that it mattered to us. We weren’t going to be around the following day (Wed., August 15) because we had reservations on Major Marine’s Kenai Fjords Cruise.
Apparently, we had unknowingly booked this 7.5-hour excursion for a day that two cruise ships would be in Seward. I took the photo, below, as we stood in line waiting to board the 86-foot catamaran, Spirit of Adventure, with the other 200+ passengers.
The boat was booked to capacity, well in excess of available seating. But, because we had paid for the meal option, we were guaranteed seats at a table. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our table-mates were a very talkative couple in need of an audience, leaving us with the option of sitting in the cabin listening to war stories or going outside to elbow our way through the non-seated passengers for a view from the railing.
Ten miles out of port, we rounded Caines Point, the site of a former U.S. Army military installation, Fort McGilvray – we will be exploring the Point by kayak and the Fort on foot in a couple days.
We continued south out of Resurrection Bay into the Gulf of Alaska. It was a wonderfully calm day at sea. Our captain was diligent in pointing out any marine life we passed, causing the passengers on deck to scurry from one side of the vessel to the other in order to catch a glimpse of a sea lion or porpoise. I eventually realized that if I simply found a vacated spot during one of these lemming-like moves, the skipper would eventually have to rotate the boat around the sea lion, porpoise or whatever, and when everyone ran back across deck to see from the other side, I would be in the front. This strategy worked marvelously for the entire cruise.
Eventually, we made our way around Aialik Cape, then turned north up the Holgate Arm of Aialik Bay. The cruise was billed as a wildlife and glacier viewing excursion and the glaciers we visited were, in turn, Holgate Glacier,…
… followed by Aialik Glacier at the northern end of Aialik Bay:
The ride back to Seward took us back out into the Gulf of Alaska for a time and although there were gently rolling swells the wind remained relatively subdued and amazingly no one got seasick.
We passed a couple Humpback Whales and then came upon a pod of Orcas just off No Name Island.
This was our third – and final – wildlife and glacier viewing cruise on this trip and I would rate them in this order: Valdez; Glacier Bay; and Seward. I did enjoy being at sea for the day, but three cruises was probably a little over-kill.