Monday, June 17th 
Seward - Kenai - Seward

previous day | roadmap today | next day
 

An Alaskan traffic rule: a moose always has priority


10h30
The brighter the weather was yesterday evening, the foggier it is today.  Before we decide what to do today, we take our breakfast in a cafeteria in front of the hotel.
It's disappointing.  We have to wait long to make an order and twice as long to get it served.  There is a lot of needless noise.  We are able to look into a part of the kitchen through a trapdoor.  By dropping the used cutlery and putting down the pots and pans harder than necessary, the kitchen staff shows that Monday morning is not their favorite moment.
The American breakfast ritual is difficult to understand for a European.  At a table in the corner a corpulent couple is doing a strange performance: he is eating pancakes with bacon.  The combination is flavored with maple syrup, Tabasco, pepper and salt.  Then everything is cut into pieces and finished up disheveled with a fork. His wife prefers a wafer with the bacon.

To avoid surprises we limit our order to a standard pancake with sugar or jam.  The tasteless coffee, kept warm in a big jug, is replaced by tea.  Unfortunately, the standard Earl Grey of Darjeeling is difficult to find.  There are a large variety of aromatized blends like 'strawberry' and 'wild rose'.  When you eventually find an 'ordinary' Darjeeling, then it is also 'enriched' with some flavor.  It's hopeless, I think...

11h10
When leaving the cafeteria we find out that the weather gods didn't do any effort to make a change in the foggy weather.  An excursion by boat to the Kenai Fjords would not be a good investment.

We decide to visit the Resurrection Bay Historical Museum.  For only 1$ we get an overview of the local history.  Like in most museums in this part of the world, history goes back until the end of the 19th century.  In Seward, history started only in 1903, when the southern railhead of the Alaska Railroad was built.  A large part of the museum is dedicated to the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and subsequent tidal wave that devastated the town.  The numerous photographs, newspaper clippings and a clock that stood still at the time of the disaster attract our attention.
The conservator of the museum, an old lady who probably lived through most part of Seward’s history, asks us to sign the guest book.
"Can you sign our guest book, please? Just put your name and address under your state of origin. Thank you."
I have a strong impression that she must have been school teacher before.
While browsing through the guest book, I notice that we are the first Belgians in years showing interest in the history of her town.  She will be very happy this evening when she will be leafing through the guest book to see who dropped by today in the museum.

Exit Glacier13h10
We start the Chevy and drive out of town.  Exit Glacier, about 3 miles out of Seward, is the next attraction.  And it is really a very tourist one.  Everything is good organized in the American way and a ranger is keeping an eye on everything.  The glacier is impressive with beautiful blue ice, but looks unreal due to the artificial environment of guided pathways and warning signs.

14h05
It's still foggy and the sky is still covered.  We don't hope anymore in doing a boat trip in the Kenai Fjords.  Instead, we decide to drive to Soldotna and Kenai on the west coast of the peninsula.  On the radio we hear a commercial for suntan cream, an inappropriate joke...

15h20
Moose Pass. Due to the earlier mentioned affection for this place-name, we can't keep from stopping here for lunch.  We enter the Trail Lake Lodge.
A hamburger (yes, again...) with "fresh cut French fries".  The latter are so fresh that they aren't even peeled before going into the oil.  That happens more in Alaska.   They should come to Belgium and follow a course in preparing chips.  Or is there a market for the Belgian deep-frying industry?

Another promising market here is the one of the professional espresso machines.  Nine times out of ten the machine is out of order when you ask for an espresso.  Maybe they don't know how to use it without breaking it, or is it really bad quality?
Anyway, it's still a nice spot to come back one day.

17h05
The Kenai River near Cooper Landing has a blue-green color.
Inflatable canoes are passing by.  It must be a nice river to do by canoe or raft. It's the easy way of course.

17h35
We drive the last 25 miles towards Soldotna, through a large plain with a lot of lakes. It's in fact the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and it covers about half of the peninsula.

Give Moose a Brake17h55
Just when we arrive in Soldotna I have to brake all of a sudden.  Fortunately, the other cars behind me did the same, as well as those in opposite direction.
We look at each other and have to recover before we realize what we just saw: a moose crossing the street at a trot.  I first thought it was a horse, but it was really a full-grown moose.  Two meters high at the shoulders and without antlers, so a female.   The elegant crossing took only a few seconds and then she disappeared in the bushes.  I had no time to take a picture and so it will be an experience to talk about without any proof.

Anyway, know we understand the big sign we saw a few miles back:

'Give moose a brake'.
That's exactly what we did.

In Soldotna we turn right to Kenai, on the Kenai Spur Road, 11 miles.

18h25
Kenai, at the shoreline of the Cook Inlet was in the late 18th century a Russian settlement of fur traders.  With these roots it is obvious that we encounter old Russian-style houses and an orthodox chapel.

Mt. Redoubt volcanoWe visit the Visitor Centre and an exhibition where we learn that a lot of oil and gas has been found underneath the Cook Inlet.
When driving along the coastline we get a beautiful view on the Mt. Redoubt volcano (3108 m), on the other side of the Cook Inlet. In 1989 it was spitting out dust and ashes.

21h30
On our way back to Seward we take a break in Cooper Landing to appease our hunger. It's nothing more than that, because we can't describe the menu better than 'eatable'.  It's clear that not every place in Alaska is idyllic.

22h20
Seward. 210 miles on the counter and bedtime.


next day