Sometimes Living Large Means Feeling Small
When talking about our travels, we quite often state that one of our favorite things to experience is when a place makes us feel small. Standing there overlooking gigantic mountains or across vast oceans and realizing how insignificant and tiny we are to the rest of this grand world is a truly humbling experience. There are not too many places on this planet that can make you feel smaller than Alaska. Everything about the 49th state is huge. The sheer size of the state itself is overwhelming as it’s the size of 10 Floridas, 16 Tenessees, and 4 Californias. To convert it to European terms, you could fit 6 of the country of Italy and 5 of the country of Germany in the State of Alaska. The vast wilderness that makes up the majority of this land is so impressive and because so much of it has remained untouched, it has earned its nickname…. The Last Frontier.
Alaska is one of 2 very special trips we have lined up this year. We got married in 2016 and although we hadn’t officially started R&R (or even knew we would), what we did know was that we wanted to live an adventure filled life full of travel and experiences. Because this was the centerpiece of our life plan, we wanted to show our parents our unique way of traveling so they could experience this life obsession of ours. So we invited both sets of parents on a vacation to a destination they have always wanted to go. We wanted to get some special family time, while also sharing a little bit of what R&R Adventure Addicts is all about. Trip #1 is for the Sutton half of the family (Big Rich and Rosie) which brings us to how we arrived in Alaska.
Our first stop brought us to the the beautiful (despite the weather) Kenai Peninsula and the port city of Seward.
Speaking of terrible weather…. if at any time during this post you see a picture where we look cozy and warm and dry… it’s a farce. Our entire time in Seward it rained sideways and definitely came with some challenges. There is an old saying that states there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing…. well we put that to the test this week. That being said….. Seward is definitely a recommended stop while you’re in Alaska. If you are visiting via cruise ship, your itinerary is probably already planned out for you and Seward may already be on the ticket. If you are planning your trip yourself, keep in mind that Seward has some unique opportunities that you won’t have as you travel inland.
Top 5 reasons you should add Seward to your Alaska vacation:
One of the coolest things (not just because it’s ice) you need to do during your time in Seward is see one or more of the gigantic glaciers the area is famous for. Although you can find a flight tour from Anchorage that will fly you over a glacier or two, coming to Seward allows you to get up close and personal with these massive aqua blue hunks of ice. There are multiple ways you can experience different glaciers in the area and some are listed below:
Hiking- There is a glacier you can hike to called Exit Glacier. This is an extremely unique opportunity because although there are a large number of glaciers you can explore in Alaska, not many allow accessibility by foot. This glacier is located in Kenai Fjords National Park and is only about a 15 minute walk from the parking area.
Helicopter- There are multiple glaciers you can get a lift to via copter and for some it is the only way you can get there. There are different types of tours at different prices so choosing a company will just be a personal preference based on the experience you want. It is such an amazing way to see a lot of area in a short time and the views of Seward from above are amazing.
Kayak- You can rent Kayaks and cruise around the Kenai Peninsula at your own pace and explore glaciers that way. There are also water taxis that can take you and your kayak to different areas. Bear glacier is a good example of an area that is cool to explore in a kayak because of the deep pool of water the glacier has created during its retreat. More on kayaking below.
Boat Tour- There are a couple different boat tours in the area as well and they are relatively the same price and a similar experience. This is usually a longer trip but you will see multiple glaciers including the Bear Glacier and Aialik Glacier and is a less expensive route than a flying tour.
2. Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife is abundant in Alaska, and the Kenai Peninsula has some unique opportunities not available in other parts of the State. Not only can you see the bears, moose and eagles you also get the ocean wildlife as well like otters, seals, whales, and puffins. There are opportunities everywhere and you can view wildlife from your room, walking around, boat tours, plane tours, etc. Another really cool place in Seward is the Alaska Sealife Center. It is an aquarium as well as a marine mammal rehabilitation center and they had a baby walrus there while we were in town. In all honesty, the wildlife was not as abundant for us because of the crazy weather. We did see seals, otters, whales, and the guys below, but we would have to wait until our second Alaskan stop before we would catch a glimpse of some larger animals.
3. Deep Sea Fishing Tour
Some of you may say this one isn’t for you and that’s ok. Fishing is something that is a huge part of the Alaskan way of life and therefore something we wanted to explore… not to mention it was on Big Rich’s bucket list. We connected with Miller’s Landing for our fishing charter and despite the miserable weather, we were able to have an adventurous and successful day. We caught our limit of Halibut, Salmon, and Rockfish and used our catch for dinner throughout the rest of our time in Alaska. Two hours after the fish entered the boat it was hitting the skillet in our cabin which is pretty much as fresh as it gets.
4. Boat Tours
Boat tours seem like a no brainer when you are in Seward. The town is a port town on one of the most beautiful inlets with access to a National Park. Boating just seems like something that should be in your plans. Since visiting all the National Parks is one of the items on our bucketlist, we took the opportunity during this trip to Alaska to check 2 off the list…. Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali National Park. There are many boat tours you can take from Seward, all with different destinations and different lengths of time. Some are just for wildlife or glacier viewing, and some are for entering other bays or National Parks. We will cover all the details of our boat trip in next week’s post about Kenai Fjords National Park.
5. Resurrection Bay
Resurrection Bay is the gateway to all things Kenai and exploring the area is a must do. Since we are outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, we opted to get a place right on the bay and get some kayaks so we could do some adventuring in the area.
First.. the accommodations- We stayed at the Silver Derby Campground at a beautiful multi-bedroom cabin called Uncle Jack’s Cabin. So when you see Uncle Jack’s Cabin tagged in any of our pictures… we do not have an Uncle Jack… it is just the name of the cabin so you absolutely can rent this place and we recommend that you do. It is walking distance to Miller’s Landing where many boat tours and other excursions leave from. The surroundings are amazing because besides the the breathtaking view of Resurrection Bay and the mountains, there are a couple old Alaska Railroad cars around which made for some cool photos.
The cabin had plenty of room, a full kitchen, and a beautiful outside patio. There were windows on all sides highlighting the main attraction of this cabin… the view.
Our favorite part about this cabin was the location and the accessibility to the bay. We rented kayaks up the road at Miller’s Landing and kept them at the cabin. In the morning we could just jump in the kayaks and head out into the bay to explore different areas around. If you are more comfortable with a guided tour, they do offer those as well, but we enjoyed the flexibility of being able to go out whenever we wanted. Kayaking along side these enormous mountains while seals and otters play around you was an experience that can’t be described.
Even with the challenging weather, Seward was an awesome choice for our first stop. We got a little wet, but it’s going to take a little more than some blistering rain and fog to put a damper on our spirits.
Although it was a little out of the way from Anchorage and our next stop, Seward offered some amazing scenery and unique qualities that made the stop more than worth the 2 hour drive. Next we’ll be heading inland to a cabin on a lake with a view of the largest mountain in the country. Thanks for adventuring with us!!