Day Thirteen: Eagles, Sea Lions, & Whales

What a day! A wonderful mix of old memories and new experiences. I spent the early part of the day walking/driving around Seward, trying to remember where everything was. Then, I spent four hours on a boat, recreating what it was like to motor out of Seward Harbor and into Resurrection Bay.

Let’s start off with the personal stuff. First, a slightly sad thing. Seward in the seventies had a lot of great outdoor activities, but not a lot of “entertainment” options. The one thing it really had was The Liberty Theater. I saw a few of my all-time favorite movies there, like Deliverance and Young Frankenstein. I was excited when I initially pulled up to the theater and saw it was still there:

I was disappointed, though, when I pulled up in front of it and saw that the movie being advertised was Last Vegas, a movie from a few years back. The Liberty has obviously been closed since then. It was really tough on small theaters like this when the studios required them to switch over to digital, as that was an expensive process. I knew it would put many small theaters out of business, and it did, including the Liberty.

If you read my book Life is Shortthen you would have read my short memoir, My Matanuska Summer. That story told what happened to me in the summer of 1976, including the none-too-exciting job of painting apartments. For what it’s worth, I thought I would include a shot of the building where I toiled, slapping ugly green paint on walls for $5 per hour:

I know, I know, it ain’t much, I never said it was beautiful. Here is something that is beautiful, though:

That is Mt. Marathon, which will play a role in my upcoming memoir called Reeling in the Years. Mt. Marathon isn’t much when it comes to height – it’s only a touch over 3,000 feet tall. What makes it special is the Mt. Marathon race, held every 4th of July. Crazy, incredibly in-shape people race to the top of that mountain and back down in around 43 minutes. The whole race started, as so many great things do, as a bar bet 100 years ago, when one man bet another that he could make it to the top and back in under an hour. He didn’t, but many, many runners do it routinely these days.

Okay, enough for traipsing through memory lane in Seward. I spent the bulk of the day on a ship called The Glacier Explorer. It is a whale watching boat that sails out of Seward Harbor. It’s a four hour tour, and here’s a tip – if you ever find yourself with four hours to kill in Seward, I can’t think of a better thing to do than take this tour. It was incredible.

First, I want to post a picture of Seward Harbor. I’ve seen a lot of harbors. In fact, I live right next to a lovely little harbor in Ilwaco, Washington. Nothing I can remember really holds a candle to Seward, though:

I call this photo, Mountains and Masts. Well, I would, if I named my photos, which I don’t.

We barely made it out of the breakwater before we saw our first wildlife, this Pacific Otter, who swam easily alongside the boat for quite a ways. Those little guys are fast:

On this trip, I’ve spotted bald eagles a number of times, but never found one sitting still so I could grab a picture of it. Today, that finally happened:

Doesn’t he look stern? And kind of noble? I sure thought so.

I’ve kept my eyes peeled for mountain goats the entire trip, and I hadn’t spotted one until today. This one was so far away, I had a difficult time getting a great, focused shot of him. This was the best I got:

He’s the white blob in the middle. 🙂 As I say, he was way up the mountain.

Right in front of the mountain goat, we passed a rock absolutely filled with sea lions, passed out like a bunch of college kids after a kegger:

All of that was great, but of course, we were on a whale watching cruise. In the end, we did see a number of different whales, We saw humpbacks, killer whales, and Orcas. For a variety of reasons, I also had a fairly tough time getting great shots of them too. A lot of it was because I didn’t want to be so busy taking pictures that I missed actually experiencing them. These are the two best shots I got:

If you look carefully, you can see the fins of four different whales in that shot.

I wanted to capture the head and face of one of the whales, and I only really got one shot like that – these guys move fast!

Oh, if you’re feeling a little short-changed on lovely scenery shots in today’s blog, here’s one:

Pretty as a postcard, yes?

By the way the weather forecast called for rain, today, but you can see how lucky we got. It was a gorgeous day.

In addition to everything we saw, I felt lucky to meet some very nice people on board. Good conversation always makes every trip better.

Tomorrow, I leave my home away from home, Seward, and head up the Kenai Peninsula to Soldotna.

Cheers, and safe travels,






  1. What a fun day! It is a beautiful harbor. The whale watching looks amazing. I agree with you that sometimes it is just important to be and make memories instead of photos. Hard to do when you want to share with others. Take care and continued safe journey.


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