Early Saturday morning, my mother and I boarded the Alaska Railroad’s “Coastal Classic” which traveled along beautiful Turnagain Arm and through the Kenai Mountains. We were headed to Kenai Fjords National Park, the final highlight of our trip. The train ride offers splendid views of the inlet at sunrise and sunset, constantly changing with each bend in the track. A railroad employee narrates the route, interpreting the geographical, historical, engineering, and wildlife features as the train passes through the outstanding terrain of Chugach National Forest. Dining is available, and passengers are free to roam between cars for a change of perspective. Eva and I saw several black bears, evidence of the ’64 earthquake and, as we approached Seward, impressive hemlocks and Sitka spruce.
Louis drove part of this same route before his plane departed from Anchorage. Being able to make stops and wander, he was able to observe belugas and to take a short, but fine, hike from the Indian Creek trailhead.
Seward is a quaint town that was rebuilt after the 1964 earthquake. Its parks, harbor, restaurants, and services make travelers comfortable. And, nearby, there are mountains, a glacier, and the SeaLife Center! A convenient shuttle makes a loop around town every half hour. If you visit, set aside time to visit the Seward Community Library where they show an informative documentary, “Waves Over Seward” about the earthquake and tsunami and their impact on the town.
Here are some of images of this coastal town.
We took a 6-hour cruise to Aialik Bay in the national park. Despite being cold and windy, I spent most of that time on deck as did my mother. Out on the deck you can really feel immersed in this misty wonderland of steep green islands and inlets. It is easier to see animals such as sea lions, puffins and orcas; it’s easier to hear bird calls like those of the kittiwakes; and it’s invigorating to be right in the midst of it all. Ice created (and continues to create) the complex contours of this coastline. Glaciers flow down from the tremendous Harding Icefield which covers over half of the park. Our ship plowed through the icy slush to give us a close look at the blue ice of a tidewater glacier, though I’m afraid my photos looks far too static; in reality, there were seabirds all around, moving ice, and a black bear walking along the nearby shore. At another point, the ship came upon a pod of 50 orcas. The park is bustling with life.