In an effort to pare like a million photo post into 200k, 600k, and 200k photos posts, I’m going to break this one up. Section herein the first details everything up to the kayak trip…
In which we head to Alaska and there was landscape
Holy shit barglers. Where to even start with this one? At the beginning, I suppose. I had gone on a cruise to Alaska several years before, and despite being both fun and inspiring, my main take away from that trip was that I needed to go *back*. I felt like the cruise was the smorgasbord, and I wanted to actually really chow down into something. Of course, this was easier said than done. Where to go? What to do? Well, I poked my head into and back out of the idea several times, pulling together resources, and finally the idea of the trip I wanted to take crystallized – I wanted to go kayaking in Kenai Fjords National Park, near Seward, Alaska, on the south side of “mainland” Alaska. After several years, both the time and the money came together in a way that would make this happen…but I needed a few people. So I sent out mail to maybe 20 people, hoping that the minimum 4 total for the guide company would come together. Much to my astonishment (and delight!) we ended up with an overall group of 11 people. Awesome.
I didn’t want to have to deal with everyone’s precise planning, but I told people they needed to call the tour company by such and such date, and that they needed to get themselves to Anchorage (or down to Seward) no later than another date, and not leave until the end date. I booked a hotel for our before and after nights in Seward, and other than that, figured I’d meet up with everyone in Alaska. Again much to my delight, this worked. Apparently telling people “email this person, and then call them at this number” makes it simpler for other people to take care of business than if you just tell them to make it work 🙂
A view of Anchorage – mountains behind, ja?
So! Nathan and I flew up to Anchorage (oh which flight I had a truly engaging discussion with a man who is a lawyer for one of the Alaskan Native Corporations, which was pretty awesome), and got ourselves over to the hotel. I realized almost immediately that my personal phone wasn’t going to work (there is no T-mo in Alaska! Or at least not then) so sort of frantically sent out my work number to people. “Thanks, work”. We then met up with Amittai and Jenny once they finished their hiking for the day, and wandered around a bit. We went to the farmer’s market plus general sales stuff, where we bought fish prints! I also saw some staggeringly large cabbages (ye gads!) for sale, and lots of touristy kitsch, and lots of art, and lots of stuff scaling the space in between. We then went and had first dinner at Humpy’s alehouse, because, how could you say no to Humpy’s? After that, we wandered around a bit more, with Amittai and Jenny wandering off (to actually take the train down to Seward that day, I believe), and went and met up with a bunch of the rest of the people at another place – Phyllis’s cafe, where we had second dinner. I believe Alex took the opportunity to try the reindeer sausage, and was somewhat underwhelmed. We had our first experience with the sun not really, well, going down, but eventually all sauntered back to wherever we were staying to catch some sleep.
Food. JC Penney.
In the morning, we grabbed some quick food, then went over to the hostel a few blocks away where some of the kids were staying, and once we’d rounded ourselves up, headed to the airport to meet the last few of the party. While this of course was somehow steeped in slightly more adventure than we really would have hoped for, we all in fact were rounded up, and went outside to wait for our ride from the kayaking place to show up. He in fact did so, with a van big enough for all of us, and a sort of open trailer he had rented for all the gear we had. Upon being confronted with the fact that while we all had plenty of stuff, we had all tried to economize, he realized that he didn’t need the trailer after all, so we took a quick jaunt past Uhaul to drop it off before finally heading south to Seward! On our way, hoorah!
Pack the van!
Anchorage the town itself is pretty , well, not so much to look at (at least the boring downtown part we saw), though it is certainly surrounded by a sheer spectacle of nature. The drive down to Seward, however, was our first super solid taste of just how amazing everything was going to be. We headed south along Turnagain Arm, looking at water and mountains and trees, stopping briefly in Girdwood to get gas, snacks, bathroom and so on. The road curves around the bay shortly after that, at which point we formally reach the Kenai Peninsula. We stopped to take some group photos at the big sign telling us so, then continued on our way. We did see plenty of cars going in both directions, but they couldn’t detract from how amazing the whole area was. We passed a few moose (cow and calves), and eventually pulled into Seward.
There were in fact other cars on the road, but the scenery couldn’t be beat.
We dropped most of the people off at Adventure 60 North, a block away from the hotel (le Barn Appetit, pun included, not a typo), and then went back to pick up Amittai and Jenny. I had tried to tell them it was literally a block away, but amittai thought it would be simpler to just come get him. So we looped over to get them, drove the block to the highway, then literally about 100 meters up the road to the place. We barely had time to buckle belts, at which point I got an “…oh. I see.” so I had my moment of vindication.
At the gear bus!
Finally all gathered, we sat and had a group meeting, signed all sorts of waivers, and got kitted up with our gear for the trip. We then walked all the way back to the hotel, where we packed and prepped, went out to dinner at the nearby Salmon Bake and had, well, fish. Most of us at least. We then went back and settled in, waiting for the morning.
Jenny at the group meeting
I promise the photos from later on get more spectacular 🙂