Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Alaska: Kenai Fjords Tour (July 20)

The morning after... still a little blurry but all appendages still intact for both of us, so it was a successful night of drinking. I'd booked our cruise as we were waiting for the wedding shuttle to pick us up, so we didn't have much on the agenda for the morning.

Soo's breakfast was stellar once again - pancakes with a berry compote toppping - perfect little alcohol sponges that did the trick. Knowing that we were going on a boat ride, Tracy and I were able to successfully eat enough to get rid of the hangover but not so much that we'd get seasick if things got rough out there.

After breakfast, we headed back to the room - I blogged one of the previous entries while Tracy was getting ready, then we made our way to Seward's small boat harbor to catch the boat. Seward's harbor was drastically different than Homer's, to say the least. It's less fishing-centric and definitely has been made very tourist-friendly (there's a Subway, ha) to accomodate the numerous cruise and tour passengers that come through the area. It's unlikely that many of them make it to the proper downtown area, it definitely has a lot to offer. We picked up our boarding passes and made our way across the pier to the awaiting Kenai Star.

We had two options - a 3-4 hour bay cruise or an 8 hour glacier cruise. Since we'd hiked to Exit Glacier a few days prior, we'd thought about doing the shorter trip but we're certainly glad that we went on the longer dinner cruise. We got our seating assignment and decided that we'd go out on the deck instead of sitting inside right away... everyone else did this as well. Luckily as the cruise went on, more and more people declined to brave the wind coming off the cold Pacific waters and decided to sit indoors in the warm cabin - more space for us.

Over the course of our 8 hour cruise, we saw humpback whales, orcas, several tpes of seals, sea otters, lots of puffins and other sea birds, a big freakin glacier, and some dall's porpoise... and after dinner (Prime Rib and Red Salmon) Tracy spilled coffee all over her pants.

No seasickness on this boat ride, whee! We spent some time near a glacier, and it got MUCH colder, apparently the water temperature drops to ~34 degrees in close proximity. There were enough large pieces of glacier floating in the water that the captain had to steer around them in a zig-zag pattern in order to get us close.

The above video gives you some idea... It was pretty creepy to hear the ice screeching against the hull. The "thunk" noises you hear are "berglets" (little icebergs) that the boat is running into. Visions of "Titanic" flashed through my mind... but it was well worth it.

Once we headed away from the glacier, the crew made an announcement: they had fished a piece of glacier ice out of the water and had chopped it up for drinks... glacier margaritas were on special for $4. What a great way to sell a bunch of drinks!

After we returned to Seward, we walked back to Soo's and got ready to go out - the Seward Ale House awaited us; those still in town had agreed to meet up for one last time since most of us were heading in different directions on Monday.

It's hard to beat a dog-friendly bar that serves draft beer in mason jars and has free hot dogs. We took advantage.

In all this was a great end to a wonderful trip - we had a blast, A and B got hitched, and we brought home some fish. It's a little disheartening not to see mountains whenever you look for the horizon, but I suppose the Chicago Skyline's not half bad either.

See all the pictures from the trip:

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