Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alaska: Seward & Wedding (July 18-19)

After our fishing expedition the day before, we were glad to be traveling on dry land for the next few days. We packed up in Homer and made our way around the Peninsula to Seward where our friends were awaiting us. Aleta's the first friend I made in Chicago and I certainly credit her with founding many of the relationships I still have today. (awwwww.) When she and Ben called last summer I was flattered - they definitely wanted me to be able to make the date and were considering my schedule in setting the wedding date. The drive from Homer to Seward definitely showed the variety of climates that can be found in Alaska, from coastal plains south of Kenai to Alpine meadows and forests north of Kenai. Tracy and I leisurely made our way across the ~130 miles between towns, stopping to check out small streams in the hope that we'd see salmon running, but we didn't come across any.

Tracy and I arrived into town a bit early and checked into our Bed and Breakfast. When we arrived, the lady of the house was outside to greet us. I had stayed in a B&B once prior, but it was nothing quite like this - I must say that this is the nicest accomodation we experienced ANYWHERE in Alaska, and it was also the most reasonably priced. If you're heading to Seward, I highly recommend Soo's.

Shortly after checking in, we met up with another of the wedding guests who was staying at our B&B and decided we'd carpool up to the the BBQ hosted by the bride's parents. We connected with a few others who hadn't rented cars and gave them a lift to dinner as well. At the BBQ It was great to be able to see many people in advance of the wedding - it gave everyone a chance to stuff their faces with absurd amounts of fresh red salmon (less than 24 hours dead, yumm) while catching up and having a few drinks. While catching up, I introduced Tracy to those she hadn't already met and we started talking about plans for the next morning - some had decided they wanted to hike up to Exit Glacier on the north side of town - we had decided that was something we wanted to do while in town, so we made plans to meet up the next morning for the hike, being sure to leave enough time to get ready prior to the ceremony.

The next morning at Soo's we were treated to a better breakfast than we could have imagined. Soo had laid out quite a spread, and this was the case every day. She always had "berry crunch", a blackberry/raspberry bread pudding that we ended up taking a "to-go" container of on our last morning.

After rendezvous with Nate, Les and Courtney, we headed out of town towards the road entrance to Kenai Fjords National park. After turning off of Seward highway and heading up the road about 4 miles, we came across this sight:

We knew this was going to be awesome right away.

Dork that I am, I strapped my Forerunner onto my wrist for the duration of the hike. The track and associated data can be viewed here: Our 5.5 mile hike afforded us beautiful views, some great exercise on an absolutely gorgeous, azure day that couldn't have been better.

I got to lick a glacier! Halfway up to the Ice Field

The 5 of us
(Les, Courtney, Nate, Tracy, and Me)

In all, it was a beautiful morning to go for a hike and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On the way back to town, we had to drop Courtney off into the bride's domain as she was no longer ours - bridesmaid duties were calling.

After lunch and a nap, we made our way to the Shuttle stop and went out to the Seward Windsong Lodge where the ceremony was to be held.

Ben was appropriately gussied up in a suit, and Aleta appeared in a dress (first time most people had seen her in a dress), the ceremony was traditional yet telling of the couple's personality... though I think Ben would have gotten some Bjork in there if Aleta wouldn't have killed him for it.

At the reception, Tracy had Halibut and I had Caribou. What else could have been appropriate for an Alaskan wedding? After eating, A&B cut the wedding pie (blackberry mmmmm) and it was served to all with a scoop of ice cream on top - delicious!

There was "dancing".

After pie was served, the crowd started to turn on one another... scotch was bought, shots were bought, embarrasing shots were bought for the groom to consume in front of his grandmother, shots were licked off of the groom... standard wedding fare, of course.

The rest is a blur. Soo's breakfast the next morning was pancakes - delicious little alcohol sponges.
See all the pictures from the trip:

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