My alarm woke me up at 3:00 a.m. and I’d never felt a combination of extreme sleepiness and excitement at the same time. Our flight departs at 6:00 a.m and in true hispanic form, we must be at the airport 100 hours before. HAHAHA! Every part of traveling is exciting for me. From the moment I book a flight, to the moment I’m maneuvering around the airport. Sipping on coffee while Im waiting in the lounge. People watching. These are the little things that I enjoy. I would also stick my head out the window of the plane the whole way there if I could, in full Labrador Retriever mode.
We make it to Anchorage. It’s around 1:00 p.m. in Anchorage and it’s time to head out for a short 2 hour drive from Ted Stevens International Airport to the beautiful Kenai Lake. I booked a cabin through airbnb and when we get there I can’t believe the views in front of me.
The cabin we stayed in was what is called a “dry cabin”, meaning there is no running water, electricity, or Wi-FI. You must keep a constant stove chimney fire going if you want warmth, you must constantly haul firewood from a nearby shed (because it burns out quickly), and you must pump water from a well and filter your water for daily use. A true “trapper cabin” Alaska experience.
We had an outhouse as our restroom. It was a short walk from the cabin but in really cold temperatures it can be little uncomfortable, because you have to dress up just to walk there. And if it’s raining in the middle of the night, you have to brave bit of rain and get yourself there lantern in hand LOL. We knew what we were getting into, so we were prepared. And this outhouse turned out to be really sophisticated: meaning that it was built in a way that it remained fresh all the time and it was actually comfortable.
It may seem like willingly staying in a place with no electricity, no running water, and no luxurious bathroom is insane, but there are many pros to experiencing this lifestyle- even for just a couple of days. For one, you’ll get views like these:
When you isolate yourself from the busy hectic world that is a metropolitan city, you turn off a switch. You are forced to hear yourself think, to see yourself-without a mirror, to be with yourself. It sounds strange, but have you ever been with the company of yourself? In this case, my husband and I had each other’s company, but we both felt something: the switch from a disconnection from the cloudy (figurative) world we live in back home, to a crystal clear and individual connection with nature. Not having internet was perfect because, lets face it, if I have access to social media, Im going to check in on it. If I have TV, I’m gonna watch for a while. Instead, we played cards, went on hikes, walked along the lake shore, had a lot of midnight conversations by the fire, and read a lot.
Having coffee in the mornings while bird watching was surreal. How is this real life? Wait, this is how life is meant to be. Amazing.
Our days were well spent here. The serenity and solitude that this place gave us, just wow. Nothing like being away from it all. Although this place was isolated, we were still near enough the Seward Highway. The highway (aka beautiful, bearly-transited drive along a mountain with coastal views) can take you South to the town of Seward, or north back to Anchorage. After spending more than 3 days at the cabin, it’s time for us to head South to the town of Seward. It is actually a port city on an inlet of the Kenai Peninsula. This is where you go if you want to see some major marine wildlife activity. This is also where you go if you’re into fishing: the fishing charter experiences here are out of this world. From salmon to giant halibut; this is the place to go.
As for us, the marine mammal enthusiasts, we ended up in the perfect spot. We booked a stay at the Resurrection Lodge on the Bay. It’s a lodge located directly on the beach. I don’t know if I could ever describe just how much I LOVE THE OCEAN AND THE BEACH. ANY BEACH. ANYWHERE.
So here we are in the Resurrection Bay, which by the way, is up to 972 feet deep. Thats deep. Thanks to the rich marine ecosystem, you will always see wildlife here. From our room, we watched stellar sea lions and seals swim by ALL DAY LONG. The lodge had a tv, but we hardly turned it on, because we had a live National Geographic- type show in front of us! Those weren’t the only friends we saw swimming by. A group of about 8 sea otters spent their days floating, flipping, and doing those cute crunches right in front of us! Apparently they’ve chosen this spot and live there. I don’t blame them. Another beauty we got the see from the deck was a humpback whale that spent the morning hanging out, diving, and feeding right in front of us. No binoculars needed. I feel so fortunate.
We hiked the Tonsina Point towards Lowel Point and it was beautiful. It is an easy hike that culminates with a view of the beach.
After getting some rest and a hot shower, we drove back to the Seward central area, where most tours operate out of. Mid May is the very beginning of the tourism season in Seward, so we got here at the perfect time. Not too quiet, not too packed.
Our first marine wildlife watching tour was with Kenai Fjords Tours company. Ill be honest and admit that I wasn’t too excited about the fact that we would be on a big vessel with a lot of other people. I usually avoid the bigger crowds, but to my surprise, it was a very pleasant experience.
I couldn’t believe how much life we saw during these couple of hours. But the one thing that I will never forget will be the pod of Orcas we were amongst. This little trip set out to look for grey whales, but to our surprise, Orcas were what we encountered! And I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I had recently finished reading The Lost Whale, a book about a baby Orca who got separated from his pod, and became friends with whoever he could at the inlet he chose to stay in. So you can imagine how I felt actually seeing one in person.
Marine animals were not the only center of attention here, check out this beautiful cove we visited. It’s called Spiral Cove and the amount of life here was incredible. I even saw sea stars and barnacles attached to the exposed part of the rocks. So cool.
The other company we went out with was Seward Ocean Excursions. If I had to recommend one tour company to anyone who is coming out here, it would be this one and here is why: If you want to be absolutely sure that you are going on a responsible, environmentaly conscious tour, this is it.
Their boats are small: 6 person capacity (counting the captain). They strictly abide by the whale watching laws in place and they are very very knowledgeable- their captains all have a background in either environmental biology, marine resources, or environmental geography. To share a cabin with someone of such wealth of knowledge is the best investment you can make. I learned so much.
The highlight of my time with Seward Ocean Excursions will always be seeing Skana, a male Orca of around 24 years of age. He was huge. Check out his tall dorsal fin.
We couldn’t leave Seward without visiting the Alaska Sea Life Center. The Alaska Sea Life Center is an institution dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded or hurt marine animals. They do amazing work and I wanted to support them by paying a visit. They don’t have many animals on display, Ill be honest. And this is because they are not a for-profit aquarium! Their purpose is to help these animal and release them back into the ocean if appropriate. That is why I was fascinated just being there. They give a lot attention to marine species conservation, sustainable fishing methods, and ocean pollution. All of these subjects which I recently find myself obsessed with.
Thank you for your work Alaska Sea Life Center! Where else would you see a truck with a “Marine Animal Rescue” sign on it? Freaking awesome. The dork in me comes out. I wanna stand there and do a fist cheer in the air. LOL.
After taking in all the marine wildlife in, we go back to our lodge and relax before heading out to Anchorage the next day, where we will watch the second to last episode of Game of Thrones and wait for our flight back home.
On our drive back to Anchorage we saw moose, elk, and bison at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Amazing strong beasts. I hope they are always around. We owe them so much.
This trip was centered on nature and wildlife viewing. Ive never seen such a variety of species & I feel so inspired right about now.
I am so happy we got to experience the rugged mountain Alaskan lifestyle but also live by the beach for a couple of days. What I’ve described here is only a review of the things that we did- the things that stood out to me the most. And Alaska is so huge, that we would need many more weeks to explore it all. Many places are remote, and not accessible via road, so a charter plane is needed. We were lucky to see the Kenai Peninsula and feel like we had much more to see still! For now I’ll take it all in and drink coffee from my Alaska mug, and have my Alaskan wildberry jam while I replay all of these memories in my head.
The places I saw, the people I met, the things I learned- this is all with me forever.
The Big Blue Marvel