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Whirlwinds: Land & Sea Adventures From Seward To Talkeetna

Barb Bierman Batie
Thursday, November 1, 2018

After a week of shipboard life, it was time to become landlubbers again. Well, sort of. After docking in Seward, Alaska, we weren’t off the water long. A large group of IFYEs had opted to take a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park.
As long as we were in Resurrection Bay where we were protected from rough waters we were fine. We enjoyed seeing the eagles, harbor seals, sea otters and numerous pods of orcas.
But a 20-mile stretch across the Gulf of Alaska where fall winds were whipping up five to 8-foot waves left many of us seasick before we reached the calm, but very cold waters of Alalik Bay.
Needless to say I didn’t eat but a couple of bites of our prime rib and salmon lunch, as after viewing the Alalik and Holgate Glaciers the return across the Gulf was waiting. By the time we arrived at our Seward Hotel most of us were ready to call it a day. We walked, or should I say wobbled our way to one of the two closest restaurants and then returned to our rooms to crash.
The next morning our bus driver, Patricia, told us the story of the boy who designed the Alaska State Flag. Benny Benson was a 13-year-old Alaska Native, who at the time was living in an orphanage in Seward. The contest conducted to design the flag was held in 1927 while Alaska was still a territory. It drew 700 entries from youth in grades 7-12 across the territory.
Noted Benny of his design: “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear—symbolizing strength.”
From Seward we headed north on the Seward Highway, heading toward our noon destination of Anchorage. The fall colors were gorgeous as the sun blinked through the trees and clouds. It was easy to see why so many people fall in love with Alaska.
Shortly after going through Moose Pass we convinced the bus driver to stop so we could get reflection pictures at Lower Summit Lake. This photo has now been turned into a custom made puzzle for Hubby.
We stopped mid-morning for a tour of the Alaska Wildlife Center near Portage. It was our first chance to see musk ox, caribou, moose, Alaskan brown bears and wolves up close. The preserve showcases some of the salt-water trees, remnants of the Good Friday earthquake in1964. While Anchorage was hardest hit, portions of the land all around Turnagain Arm dropped 8-10 feet, allowing seawater to run up inlets and draws that normally carried only fresh water. Trees soaked up the water and petrified. Attempts have been made to clear them away over the last 55 years, but they have only ruined the chainsaws and axes.
We were greeted in Anchorage by temperatures in the mid-60s with brilliant sunny skies. We got three hours to eat lunch and explore the Anchorage Museum. The museum tells the story of the North through art, history, science and culture.
The Arctic Gallery focused on the state’s Natives with each tribal group featured in it’s own section. My favorite place was the new Rasmuson Wing, which contains the Art of the North Galleries. I have a new painter to admire, Sydney Mortimer Laurence, who specialized in landscapes of Mt. Denali, then known as Mt. McKinley.
Our time was all too short, but it was on to the next adventure, a quirky little town called Talkeetna.