Monday, July 24, 2017

Seward and the Alaska Sealife Center

DH, DD1, Honorary Son, DD2 and I spent almost an entire day in Seward.  DS2 and his friends spent three days in the Seward area doing some adventuring (involving a zodiac boat, an island, backpacking, swimming to an iceberg. . .) on their own.

Again, the weather was too cool and damp for DD2 and I to be excited by the thought of going out on the water, so we stayed on land while DH, DD1 & Honorary Son took a half-day cruise to see glaciers and whales (although a fog made viewing difficult).  DD2 and I explored Seward on foot, and checked out many of the indoor activities available there.

Seward is one of Alaska's more well known cities.  You'd think it would fairly large, right?  At least, I thought it might be sorta big.  I was surprised to find it has a population of less than 3,000 and you can walk from one end of town right out the other in roughly a mile.  There are lots of boats; it seemed to me that half the town is taken up by the marina and businesses related to that.  The other half is shops for tourists, restaurants, and the Alaska Sealife Center.

DD2 and I perused several of the shops, partly looking for souvenirs, partly for entertainment looking at the made in Alaska wares which typically incorporated antlers or whalebone or ivory.  There were many pretty objects to see, although with each "that's cool" DD2 or I exclaimed, the other would say "but what would you do with it?"  In other words, yeah it was neat, but it's only function seemed to be to look at.  We were looking for more practical souvenirs.

Like the sweatshirt DD2 bought with a moose on it that says 'Alaska'.  Like the ball cap with a stylized bear that says 'Alaska' and the knee-high socks, two pair--one with loudly colored bears and the other with a variety of Alaskan animals and their tracks, that I bought for myself.  The knee socks are intended to be worn with my breeches and riding boots.  Like the handful of postcards I bought to write on and send to K3, Toad, DS1 & K2, my parents, and a couple good friends (one of whom had jokingly told me "make sure you send me a postcard" and thus instilled the idea in my brain of what fun it was, as a kid, to get postcards from places visited by people you knew).

I liked Seward.  We spent hours walking the main road, and visiting the shops.  Included in that category was a book store, a yarn shop, and a quilting/fabric store.  The only thing that stopped us from dropping loads of cash in those venues was the fact that somehow we had to get anything we bought back home on the airplane with us.  We each had an allotted number of free checked bags, but now with DH's fish box in addition to the (overstuffed) suitcases we'd brought with us, we had no more free luggage left.  Neither of us wanted to pay for a box containing yarn and/or books and/or fabric to travel home by plane.  So we limited our purchases to what we could fit into our carry-on bags, which had little room unclaimed in them.  The sweatshirt, hat, socks, plus a skein of locally dyed sock yarn and a 2018 calendar with photos of Alaskan scenery were what we settled on.

One thing I found dis-likable about Seward was that it was very difficult to find somewhere for DD2 and I to buy lunch.  Not that there weren't about a hundred food establishments to choose from. It's that fish and seafood are very much part of Seward.  But neither of us can/will (me due to allergy, she due to personal taste) eat seafood or fish.  And it seemed like every darn restaurant we went to either smelled strongly of fish (the smell of cooked fish makes me almost as nauseous anymore as the smell of raw fish does) or there was nothing on their menu that didn't first live in the water.  We were getting pretty hungry, and more than a little grumpy, when we stumbled on what turned out to be a jackpot:  Zudy's Cafe.

Zudy's Cafe did not smell like fish.  It also had a menu that was not full of water creatures.  In fact, I can't recall if they had anything fish or seafood on their menu.  What they did have was a small cafe with friendly staff who gave great service, a quaint--if quirky--atmosphere, and awesome food.  If you ever go to Seward, I highly recommend you catch some lunch at Zudy's.  Both DD2 and I were delighted with our sandwiches. Lots of fresh veggies, fruits, and yummy (non-typical for a bought sandwich--not American, Swiss, Provolone, etc) cheeses in addition to the meat(s) and the panini bread.

inside Zudy's

every table had fresh flowers in a vase of some sort

After Zudy's, we spent the rest of our Seward trip inside the Alaska Sealife Center. They have some sea mammals, birds and fowl in residence, in addition to lots of aquatic creatures.  You can view things in tanks, you can watch videos, you can read and interact with displays.  And, our favorite part: you can stick your fingers in several 'touch tanks' and actually touch starfish, sea anemone, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and other things you'd never thought of poking your finger into before!

this harbor seal kept trying to get something off the bottom of it's tank

There was also the most amazing artwork on display.  It was watercolor on canvas, and as someone who once upon a time did a little watercolor work (I loved art classes in junior and senior high school) I found the paintings fascinating.  Not just in the bold colors and depth of pigment used, but also the use of space and how the artist depicted her subjects. I possibly took more pictures of the artwork than I did of the actual living creatures.  All the artwork is by V. Rae.

Seward was probably one of my favorite stops on vacation.  In addition to the shops, the Alaska Sealife Center, Zudy's Cafe (YUM!!), the boating/fishing, it also has a number of murals painted on various buildings.

my favorite mural

If all of that isn't enough, Seward boasts to have lots of hiking trails.  Unfortunately we didn't have time for hiking there (next trip, maybe?) as we had to get DD1 and Honorary Son back to Anchorage in time for a midnight flight home to Michigan.

After taking dropping them at the airport, it was time to head for Denali!

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