I left Anchorage for Seward but made a stop at Walmart before leaving town. I forgot to bring my binoculars and decided that a better daypack than what I had would also be nice for when I take the fjord cruise on Thursday.
Since the Portage Glacier visitor center was closed when I came through there on Monday, I made a point of going back to see what I missed. I also wanted to pull out at a very scenic spot that I noticed on Monday but was in too much of a hurry to see. It was a beautiful access point along the river and gave me a spectacular view of the Portage Glacier.
I also stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Preservation Center near the Portage turn-off. Just like the Alaska Zoo, this site is dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of injured wildlife. Here, just like at the zoo, they had animals that will never be released back into the wild. A fabulous, majestic Bald Eagle who'd been found up near the Arctic Circle, shot in the wing. He was rescued, but his wing had to be amputated. He'll never fly again. A pair of lynx rescued as kittens by a firefighter while battling a forest fire and carried to safety in his backpack. Their mom was no where to be found, possibly perished in the fire. Two moose - a male and a female - both found separately as abandoned babies. It goes on and on...and it moves me to tears to consider these animals' plights and thankful that humans intervened in a good way in these cases. But how many animals suffer and die who are never found??
Then it was on down the peninsula to Seward. A beautiful stretch of road that for a while became narrow and twisty as it scaled the mountains and passed through rainforest.
I came into Seward and continued on in to town to find a place for lunch. A previous Google search identified a place called Ray's Waterfront so I decided to try it for lunch. It was about 2 PM so there was no wait and I was seated immediately. While the harbor view from my table was quite scenic, I was less than underwhelmed by the quality of the food and the high price. I ordered a fried halibut plate and when it was served I nearly laughed out loud. Two small triangular pieces of fish, heavily breaded and of uniform size and shape brought to mind Morton's frozen fish filets. They were each, at most, one ounce of fish, set on top of a mountain of French fries and served with a tiny little scoop of coleslaw. At $17, this was a very pricey plate of French fries!! The fish was awful...McDonalds' fish filet tastes better than this did. Needless to say, I logged right onto Tripadvisor.com and gave this place a very poor rating. Many others have rated it poorly recently, yet with the sheer number of positive ratings from several years ago, it will be a very long time before this place drops significantly in the rankings. Lesson learned here...
|My filthy but cute Kia Soul rental car parked in front of one of|
several very nice lodge buildings at Windsong Lodge
I was still hungry after that terrible, inedible lunch, but decided to go on over to the Windsong Lodge and check in. With the restaurant experience still tasting bitter on my tongue, I was pleasantly surprised by this Lodge. The older woman behind the counter was a hoot! Her 'Joisey' accent was as thick as the day she left that state, and her dry sense of humor masquerading as no sense of humor at all made my day. My room was lovely and will be quite comfortable for the next two days/nights.
It was still early so I changed into my running shoes and jumped back into the car to drive the few short miles to the Exit Glacier unit of the Kenai Fjords National Park. There's a 1.3 mile hike to access the glacier and I'm going for it!
The National Park Service webpage for this park says that the hike is "moderately strenuous." I think I'm up to that challenge! I found the trail head and started my hike. The first part of the trail was paved and flat, so no challenge there.
Then the pavement gave way to gravel and soon the gravel gave way to a steeper slope with steps crafted from stones. In some places it was just steep gravel-covered slope, but nothing really too difficult for someone in reasonably good shape.
Nice paved path at the beginning:
Pavement ends and steep gravel incline begins at this bridge:
The "wash field" beneath the "toe" of the glacier:
Ten years ago the glacier reached this point, where the sign is today. It has receded this much in the last ten years:
Final approach to the edge of the glacier:
People are dwarfed by the size of this glacier:
View at the very edge of the glacier:
Tomorrow: Up early for the Kenai Fjord Cruise!!