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Published: September 6th 2016
22 Aug 2016: Today we left Soldotna for Seward, a drive of approximately 120 miles. The route was easy to follow. North on route 1 to route 9, over Moose Pass and into Seward. The city maintains public campgrounds for a fee. We stayed at the one offering electricity and water. It afforded a magnificent view of Resurrection Bay and the surrounding glacier-clad mountains. To our left (North) was the boat harbor. Every day the view changed with the amount of sunlight and fog.
We had two excursions here plus a visit to the Seward Marine life research center, an organization that rehabilitates young or injured marine mammals. Manny species were on display including fish and birds. We also took several scenic drives and a visit to a yarn store, which Jeanne likes to do every place we visit.
Our first excursion was to Kenai Fjords National Park, a watery preserve of ice fields, glaciers and artic wildlife. Our boat departed at about 1000. It was a comfortable, enclosed catamaran carrying about 150 passengers. It was foggy and rainy, not the best of circumstances for a sea voyage but typical of Alaskan weather this time of year. Our guide
provided the narration and a digital chart provided our location, course, and water depth.
We sat at a table with six seats and were joined by a nice couple from Flagstaff. We enjoyed their company immensly. The gentleman was a retired firefighter. One thing I learned from his wife was that he and his firefighter friends were usually involved in outdoor activities with each other when off duty so he has spent a lot of time "out there". He and his wife were traveling through Alaska in a camper. We had fun comparing notes of our travels in between seeing the sights on the cruise.
Our craft took us South to the Hardjng Glacier, a tidewater glacier in one of the many fjords in the park. Coming upon a glacier in the fog was an eerily beautiful experience. Chunks of ice had broken off (calved), populating the fjord with miniature icebergs. The ice took on a bluish hue, caused by its age. The fog made everything soft, the water was flat, quiet and the soft blue color added to the magic.
Touring Resurrection Bay, we encountered Harbor and Stellar Seals, who feed at night so they have
all day to pose on rocks for the tourists, Bald Eagles, Puffins, Dall Porpoises and a pod of Humpback whales feeding.
After completing our tour, we disembarked on Fox Island for a dinner of Salmon and Prime Rib. A park ranger presented a slide show about the history of Fox Island and the park while we ate. He brought along a Sea Otter pelt. Jeanne said it was soooo soft. I thought it was a beaver pelt as they are similar so I didn't feel how soft it was. I knew what a beaver pelt felt like. Then we reboarded and made our way back to Seward boat harbor where the excursion ended about 1800. It was a great trip and we saw and learned a great deal.
Two days later I set off on an offshore charter looking for fish. I reported to the charter office at 0615 for a 0700 departure. On the way to the Fishing grounds Captain John guided our 27 foot craft with six fishermenand a crew of one over three ft swells and troughs for two hours. He had an electronic chart similar to the boat we had traveled on on the
glacier tour. It also served as a fish finder. Finally reaching the first of three spots we would visit that day, Cubal, the deck hand rigged us up with a three pound weight and a couple of dead herring and down it went about 180 ft to just off the bottom.
If Forrest Gump were a fisherman, he would compare it to eating a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. We pulled up rockfish, Lingcod, Halibut for the most part. We caught six Yellow Rockfish between us all. This fish, which can live as long as 121 years and produce 2,700,000 eggs, was amazing to behold. When brought to the surface, its swim bladder expands so it protrudes from its mouth. It looks like a large tongue or a stomach turned inside out. It is usually dead by the time it gets to the surface. With six rods in the water, somebody was catching something almost all the time. Cubal identified the owner of each fish by marking each with slash marks near the base of its tail. While we fished, the swells continued, gently rocking our small craft. Nevertheless, the rocking was not
so gentle that one need not take precautions against a sudden lurch and walking required some forethought to avoid a fall. We fished until about 1500 when it was time to Rev up the twin 250 HP outboard motors and zoom back to port. The seas were calmer so the ride back was a little smoother.
Back on shore, I quickly realized that it would take a little time for me to regain my land legs. Cubal gathered our day's catch in a wheelbarrow and transported it up to the dock for pictures and filleting. I managed to reel in a little over 13 pounds of assorted fillets, which we Fed Ex'd to our brother Todd in Phoenix. Seward AK to Phoenix AZ overnight. Amazing. I am looking forward to eating them. In retrospect, I should have hired a guide for my freshwater pescatorial adventures, at least for a day. I would have been much more successful.
Our stay in the Kenai Peninsula was filled with many sights and experiences that will stay with us throughout the remainder of our lives. It is a wondrous part of the Earth our Savior Jesus Christ formed for us as commanded
by Heavenly Father. We are grateful for the opportunity to gain the knowledge our experiences brought us. Praise be to God.
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