Seward, Alaska is one of those quaint little tourist towns that you could spend a whole day in with its curio shops, seafood restaurants, aquarium, hiking trails, and tour boats.
The town only boasts about 4,000 residents, but when you thrown in the tourists it swells to 25,000 during the summer months. And today I was one of them.
I left Anchorage, AK this morning heading south into Seward to spend a day seeing the ocean life that makes up the southern Alaska coast. Yesterday, some locals I was having beers with recommended I do a boat tour. So, I got back to my motel room and did a Google search, and discovered that Resurrection Bay, served by the city of Seward, is a great place to do that.
|Chugach Mountains behind the muddy Turnagain Arm, Highway 1|
The ride into Seward is very scenic like much of Alaska. Highway 1 takes you into that area, and provides some great views of the Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountain Range. Then you take Highway 9 into Seward, which become a little more twisty, and a little more fun to ride.
And Seward is one of those towns where tourists tend to concentrate, buying up souvenirs that will only end up getting lost somewhere in the house, and later discovered 20 years down the line. Seward seems to boast more seafood restaurants than hotels. And the city fathers were smart, choosing to put all the touristy stuff at one end of the town, and keeping rest of the of town separate for themselves.
So I did my part as a tourist, opting for the 4 1/2 tour of Resurrection Bay. And it didn't disappoint. We saw lots of marine life, including an otter floating on its back cracking open some kind of shell fish. I saw several Bald Eagles soaring in the sky, I saw Harbor Seals and Stellar Sea Lions. I also saw mountain goats traversing the rocky cliffs of islands.
|Town of Seward, AK way off in the distance|
The tour took us to Fox Island located in the middle of Resurrection Bay. The beach head was covered in flat rocks perfectly shaped for rock-skipping. If you are a rock skipper, this was your Heaven. And they fed us all-you-can-eat Salmon, and you can rest assured I ate as much salmon as I could eat.
After the bay tour, I rode my motorcycle into the downtown area of Seward, hoping to find a good place for a beer. I found the Seward Alehouse. They serve up local brews on tap, and I had the Kassik's Porter, which I thought was an excellent porter, rivaling the best of what microbreweries in my local San Diego has to offer.
|Seward Alehouse, Seward, AK, offers local microbrews on tap|
After that, I headed out of Seward, and into the direction of Anchorage.
I wasn't sure where I would sleep for the night. Along Highway 1, I found a place called Summit Lake Lodge. They had rooms and a bar. Except the rooms were all filled. But I noticed a campground next door. Except, the campground wanted $18.00 a night. But I figured if I could get Internet access at the lodge's bar, then I could get online and do my web stuff, and then retire to a tent. However, the lodge's bar had shitty Internet access, and I couldn't get online.
So, I hightailed it out, and continued on up the road towards Anchorage.
I ended up in downtown Anchorage, and hit up a pizza joint called "Uncle Joe's Pizzeria". The night before, I drank beers with some folks who told me that Uncle Joe's Pizzeria had the best pizza in all of Anchorage. So, I had to stop there and try it out. The verdict?
Well, it's not bad, but it's not awesome. It has good sauce, though it's very greasy. If that's the best that Anchorage has to offer, then I guess Anchorage is no place to be if you're a pizza freak.
|Uncle Joe's Pizzeria, Anchorage, AK, good sauce, not bad, not great|
But after that, I hit up Glacier Brewing. Glacier Brewing is similar to a Yardhouse in Southern California. It's ultra-trendy, and ultra-busy. But they do have great beer. I had their Imperial Blonde Ale, which was anything but your standard light ale. It's more hopped than a blonde ale, more malted than a blonde ale, and more alcholic at 9.0%. It tastes very close to a Belgian Ale, except it doesn't quite have that unique Belgian ale flavor.
I also had a cask-conditioned IPA, which tasted more like a light alcohol barley wine.
The bartenders at Glacier Brewing are so busy that they can't find the time to talk to you. And the customers at the bar don't seem at all interested in talking to me. However, I finally found a youth pastor from Portland, OR whom I had a great time talking with over a couple of beers. He told me about the best bars in Portland. He said after spending a long day of dealing with troubled teens, he likes to go to his favorite watering hole and drink some microbrews.
|Glacier Brewing Company, Anchorage, AK, 11:30pm at night|
He told me about this bar in Portland that specializes in macaroni and cheese, and offers several different flavors and variations. And damn it, I'm sitting here right now and can't remember the name of the place. Oh well.
You know, downtown Anchorage is very much a "progressive city". Funny, just yesterday I was at the Peanut Farm Bar & Grill in Anchorage, a bar located well outside of downtown. The regulars at the Peanut Farm were complaining that liberals were turning Anchorage into another San Francisco. After tonight, having spent time in downtown, I can see what they mean.
I always associated Anchorage with sailors, hunters, lumberjacks, big guys drinking shots of whiskey, driving pickup trucks with shotgun racks on the rear window, and bumper stickers that read, "Live Better Work Union". Instead what I saw were people with dreadlocks, or the kind of people you expect to see hanging out at coffee shops, driving hybrids, smart cars, riding bicycles, or with rainbow-colored emblems on themselves.
Not that any of that stuff is wrong, but there's clearly a different culture in downtown Anchorage versus the outer-lying areas.
Today? I'm going to head north to Denali National Park. I'm told that the town of Petersville actually provides better views of Mt McKinley, so I may check that out.
Wildlife I spotted today: 6 bald eagles, 1 sea otter, 5 harbor seals, several stellar sea lions, 2 mountain goats.
|Highway 1, south, Chugach Mountains|
|Seward Marina with shops and seafood restaurants galore|
|Sea otter having lunch in Resurrection Bay|
|Fox Island, Resurrection Bay, AK|
|Bald Eagle soaring over Resurrection Bay|
|Bird Island, Resurrection Bay|
|Cloudy sunset over Turnagain Arm, Highway 1|