I really appreciate centers like this, because they provide normal people to see animals and wildlife up close, study them scientifically to further our research knowledge about animals. However, the reason why I these centers the most is because many of the animals we see inside the SeaLife center are rescued injured or orphaned wildlife that receive rehabilitation at the center.
After some gift-shopping and lunch with the family, it was time to say goodbye to the pretty little town of Seward.
And on to our last stop (where we began): Anchorage.
Anchorage is a very pretty city to photography because even though there are a lot of buildings that make for good “cityscapes,” There is often a view of a mountain in the distance.
My brother’s freshman college roommate happens to live in Alaska, and was in Anchorage, so we had dinner with him and my brother was able to catch up with an old friend. It was also a plus because he knew the city well.
By this time, I was pretty burnt out from all the traveling. However, I did for sure enjoy seeing the puffins, and Anchorage is a very pretty city. Decently quiet as well! Just one more day left!
Day 5, our second day in Seward, we went to see glaciers again, the day before on water, but this time on land! We visited Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. It’s a shorter and accessible trail, so pretty much anyone could walk the path and see it 🙂
The sad thing is, Exit Glacier is, well, exiting! The picture below is the one of the closest vantage points the park’s trail takes us to view the glacier. In 2010, the glacier was much larger. I would have been able to touch the glacier from where I took this photo only 6 years ago. 100 years ago, the glacier, the mile trail we walked was essentially all glacier.I essence, the glaciers in Alaska have all been slowly shrinking since the end of the earth’s ice age, but in just the last decade, it’s been shrinking faster and faster, and Exit Glacier here is an up close and personal example of one of them.
If that picture doesn’t scare you, how about this one? I took it from farther back where the glacier reached back in 2005, just eleven years ago (I was only ten years old, and I just turned 21 recently). I also added an indicator below to show where I was standing for the photo I took above of the 2010 sign.
What were you doing in 2005? 2010? Comment below 🙂
In the infographic below, Kenai Fjords National Park scientists also say that the glacier used to be much larger, and has been shrinking and melting more and more every year.
My brother made an extra climb up closer to the glacier, and he got to touch it! Check out his Instagram post below, and follow him @timclau 🙂
A few non-glacier pictures taken along the trail. Cool to think that all the trees, rivers, flowers, and earth used to be frozen less than a century ago!
We ended the day by going back to Seward and taking a stroll around Seward. Turns our there is large RV park by the bay, and lots of families either camping out or living in their RVs. It’s a beautiful place to be in the summer.
I hope you enjoyed these photos of Exit Glacier and the Seward Bay. However, I want to challenge you to educate yourself on the warming of Alaska. I know there is lots of controversy about the politics of global warming and climate change. However, I’m not asking you to look into politics, but to check out and see if beautiful natural wonders of Alaska-its glaciers for example-may soon cease to exist. Also, with glaciers gone, cute little tourist towns like Seward may lose its large amount of tourism, which is important for the town’s economic well-being (when no tourists come in the coldest months of winter, many Seward residents and workers actually leave for a break because there is no work for them).
The Natural Resources Defense Council, or the NRDC, a non-profit that aims to protect the earth’s natural ecosystem and the animals, plants, and humans within it. They have fought for clean water in Flint, Michigan and have campaigned against the antibiotics found in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s poultry. These are just two of the many projects they’re working on- and they reported the day I arrived back in Jersey that Alaska is having the hottest year ever recorded. Check out their tweet below:
You can take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m not trying to convince you to believe everything I say, but I do hope that you would at least educate yourselves about the climate change in Alaska if you have not already. The unfortunate conclusion is that in just a couple of years, kids will never be able to see glaciers in Alaska anymore.
But two truths are clear: 1. Alaska is having the hottest year that’s ever been recorded. 2 This glacier, Exit Glacier, has been shrinking faster and faster by the decade, and so are the other glaciers in Alaska.
For me, that’s enough reason to start demanding climate action when I can, and having a different perspective on how I treat my earth’s ecosystem- even back home in the suburbs of New Jersey.
What do you think of this “warming of Alaska”? I’d like to hear your opinion if you would like to share; comment below!
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check my past photo blog posts about Alaska by clicking on the images below 🙂
Our first day in Seward, we embarked on a day cruise ship named the “Orca Voyager” with the wonderful Kenai Fjords Tours and sailed in to the Gulf of Alaska to see glaciers and wildlife. We saw orcas, sea lions, otters, puffins and other birds, and the humpback whale).
The Seward harbor and our cruise ship, the Orca Voyager.
Otter – before docking the ship in the morning, we found an otter chewing away on a fish right next to the harbor boardwalk. Pretty adorable 🙂
Orcas (Killer Whales) – I wasn’t able to get many good photos of the orcas, but they’re one of my favorite animals! This photo came out alright.
Humpback Whale – another aspect of our trip (like the weather during our Denali tour and the weather during the cruise), we found a humpback whale (probably a young one according to the ship captain) that jumped almost 30-40 times, and waved to us, sort of showing off. But it was a beautiful sight. My dream is to see more dolphins ❤ in my home state, in Atlantic City.
Alakik Glacier – this glacier could be gone in a couple years!
Birds – there were lots of seagulls, puffins, and other birds, but most of them were very small to see. Puffins especially. Without binoculars or anything, it was hard to see the cute faces of the puffins. But there were so many. The captain liked to point out large puffins to us; she said that there are puffins who have eaten so much that they can’t fly, and when they try they end up failing. That’s sort of adorable :). At the Wildlife Center in Seward that my brother and I visited on Day 6, so look out for some adorable puffin pictures on my post for that day!
Sea Lions – these water had a couple sea lions that are called “Stellar Sea Lions.” They are branded with a letter/number combination, for studies. I found a link online to a spreadsheet that tracks where they’ve been seen.
We stopped by Fox Island, where they had a cafeteria that served us salmon, prime rib, and if you wanted, king crab for an extra fee, as part of the overall tour package. Then we returned home, finally, after an 8 hour trip.
Extra Tidbit: The Van Gilder Hotel (Alaska’s Oldest Hotel)– for two of our three nights at Seward, we staid at the historical place called The Van Gilder Hotel. It’s very historic and has been placed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a part of the National Register of Historical Places. Essentially the hotel has kept his architecture very much the same and using their old fashion beds and antique furniture. There are obviously renovations , such as added TVs and bathrooms. There were still bathrooms and even a shower room in the hall of the floor I stayed on.
After we left, my brother said that there is a myth about a ghost inside the Hotel, called “The Ghost of Fanny Guthry-Baehm” (there’s even a book about it). I’m glad he told me after we left, or I may have been freaked out. The synopsis of the book linked above says “Fannie Guthrie-Baehm was murdered in room 201 in 1947, and her ghost has been witnessed by many over the years.” Oh my. Chills. Would I recommend the hotel? I’m not sure. I liked the historical vibe, but it wasn’t as comfortable as a normal hotel. Also, now that I’ve read up on the myth, it’s spooky. But the owner was nice and helpful!
Day 5 coming up soon :). Thanks for reading!
Read about my previous days clicking on the labeled photos below:
Alaska Day 3: our day will finish down south in Seward. It’s 200+ miles south of Talkeetna, with Anchorage (where the airport is) in between. You should know that Alaska has two legs right? Well, there’s a little peninsula between the two legs- that’s where Seward is- on the south coast.
We stopped by three places before reaching Seward:
1. Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk – a boardwalk where there is a lot of grassland water. The water apparently was created by man, by accident. We saw a moose, eagle, and lots of other birds at the Marsh.
2. Beluga Point – a lookout point by the water viewing the Ocean between the peninsula and the West Alaska. There are apparenty Beluga whales that come by the coast, but we didn’t see any.
3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – this isn’t exactly a zoo. This conservation center’s animals (beats, bison, deer, elk, etc.) are mostly hurt and/or orphaned, and the center takes very good care of them. Just last year, they released a large group of wood bison back into the wild. There are three bears- two were orphaned cubs when their mother was shot. Another was found injured by a porcupine by some people snowmobiling in Alaska. I’m really glad that this conservation center is seeking to help animals, not just show them off for attention or money. 🙂
1. Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk
Views of the water and grasslands at the Potter Marsh:
2. Beluga Point
3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
After the Conservation Center, we drove another 2 hour or so and made it to small town Seward. It was around 9 PM Alaska time, and most restaurants were closed, but we were able to find dinner 🙂 We would be staying in Seward for 3 nights. Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading! Check out some of my past posts by clicking on the images below, and keep a lookout for Day 4!
Our second day in Alaska was rain-filled. However, we had a whole day in Denali National Park in the sun, and got to see the great Denali mountain, so we could only count our blessings! Our morning was pretty relaxed because of the rain, and then we drove from Healy, AK (our motel near Denali) back down south to our next stop, Talkeetna, AK.
Without much to do outside because of the weather, we arrived at our lodging spot in Talkeetna around 4:00 PM Alaska time, or 8:00 PM EST. It’s a very lowly-populated little town, with on around 876 residents inside a square milage of 42.9 square miles. Talkeetna is a great place to find airplane tours to see areas around it (including Denali), and is also a prime spot to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Unfortunately, it’s too bright at night (it never really gets dark here) to see the Aurora during the month of June 😦
Because of the rain, we had a lot of free time. We were able to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals entirely 🙂 Congratulations LeBron! Usually, on vacations like this, it’s very easy to want to use every hour of every day, but during our vacation, we’ve had a lot of time to relax and rest just as much as exploring the amazing state of Alaska. I’ve really enjoyed that and a lot of that goes to my brother Tim’s specific but flexible itinerary! Thanks bro!
After the game, we decided to visit Talkeetna’s downtown. To walk there, we walked a path through the woods that required us to cross some train tracks. Train tracks tend to look nice in photos….. hahah!
We reached downtown Talkeetna rather quickly, it wasn’t very far away. It consists of many little houses, mostly restaurants, bars, gift shops, and travel offices. It was cute, but it was pretty quiet and empty.
We had dinner at the Wilderness Cafe, which had phenomenal seafood. As well as salmon, halibut is very popular here in Alaska. There’s Halibut at almost every restaurant, and it’s actually more expensive than salmon.
The Wilderness Cafe had cool dishes like seafood curry (with halibut, crab, salmon, shrimp, scallops, etc. all in one dish), a deep-fried salmon burger that my brother loved, and many other dishes.On our way in, a couple walking out said: “when we came in, the people leaving our table said it was worth the wait.” After eating there, my family agreed. If anyone visits Talkeetna, I highly recommend eating here!
After walking home a different route, we essentially rested for the night, getting ready for another long drive all the way down south to Seward, AK, where we would be staying three nights.
Talkeetna was a small town and it was rainy all day, so we didn’t get to do too much there. However, my family and I got to stroll through it’s quaint little downtown, have a great seafood dinner, rest up, and also watch the NBA finals 🙂
Thanks for reading! Click the photos below to read the last couple days in Alaska 🙂
Day 1 after 30 hours of travel and a good early night’s rest (also adjusting to the 24 daylight called “Midnight’s Sun” here in Alaska), we were up early and were off by 7:15 AM to Denali National Park, home to Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in the US.
The only way to get into the park past a certain point is to use the park’s bus tours (the main road extends to 84-89 miles long, but private cars are only allowed to drive past mile 15 now). The bus we signed up for went from the parking lot to the 84th mile – Wonder Lake. The bus made about 8 stops give or take, and the bus also often stopped if there was any wildlife near the roads. The buses would be rotating very often, so if we wanted to stay at any certain spot and enjoy the view longer, hike a trail or two, or even camp, we could, and other buses could take us a long later. However we stuck with the same bus all day, and the trip went on from 7:30 AM till around 6:30 PM (almost 11 hours!). 168 miles on not the best terrain, with stops along the way.
Everywhere we went, there was just so much distance to see for miles and miles, and beautiful mountains surrounding us.
We saw a good amount of wildlife.
Our bus ride might have been great, and the car ride could be boring, but our driver might have been the highlight of the trip. A school bus driver during the year, she gets to work in Denali National Park, interacting with people, telling stories, or make lots of jokes. Thanks, Wendy, for being a compassionate and loving driver and tour gjide.
On our bus, we met an older couple who owned an RV and have been driving for a long time. The lady told us we must get food at the “Salmon Bake” and that it’s worth it. It was! Salmon and Halibut are Alaska’s favorites. Also, Happy BIrthday Mom!
Originally, we only planned to go to Portland, then straight to Anchorage. However, our flight from NYC to Portland was delayed too long, and so by the time we arrived in Portland, the flight to Anchorage, AK that night had already left, and the next available flight to Alaska wasn’t till the next night. It was important to get to Alaska on Friday early enough to drive up to Healy by Friday night, 5 hours north of the airport because we had reserved 7:15 AM tour bus tickets for Saturday morning.
After some searching and work with the Delta Airlines workers, we found a solution. We could get to Anchorage the next morning by flying a 12:30 AM flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then go to Anchorage from there. As compensation, we were given food vouchers for use in the airports. Free food! 🙂
We left our house at around 2:00 PM EST Thursday afternoon. We arrived at our motel in Healy, Alaska at approx. 5:30 PM Alaska time (9:30 PM EST) Friday evening. Just about 30 hours.
As we approached Anchorage, AK on our third flight of the trip, the plane was at a low enough altitude to see the snowy mountains in the sea. We were able to see some nice views from the furthest back seat of the plane!
When we arrived, all I had to do was to look out the windows of the airport, and I could get a feel of what the views would be like in Alaska. Not a lot of buildings, and just miles of open space and mountains far away. Beautiful.
We received our rental car, and drove 5 hours north from Anchorage to Healy.
Finally, we arrived. We had an early morning coming up the next morning, a 7:15 AM bus ride at Denali National Park, not too far from our motel. There weren’t too many photos taken during travel, but it was a long one. Stay tuned! 🙂