One of the first things we noticed was that the tide was out, and nearly the entire inlet was mud. Not plain old boring shallow flat mud, mind you, but mud with fissures that looked to be several feet deep. There were a few little rivulets here and there, as creeks and streams flowed into the arm, but mostly it looked like a vast moonscape of mud.
This reminded DH (because the tide was out), that one of the things he wanted to see in Alaska was the bore tide. The bore tide is seen in Turnagain Arm during certain phases of the moon. It is essentially a wall of water that builds up on the mud (filling those fissures) until it washes down the arm in a big wave or series of waves anywhere from a few feet to ten feet high. For more info on the bore tide, go here.
We tried to see the bore tide that first night. A chart DH had found online informed us of approximate tide times for the first few nights we were in Alaska. After that, the bore tide wasn't expected again until we were back home in Michigan. But, alas, even after hiking nearly a mile from our campground, and sitting where we could see the (empty) inlet for about an hour and a half around the supposed ideal time, we did not see the bore tide. Didn't see any tide at all, in fact. Saw lots of seagulls and kittiwakes, and I even saw a fish jump in one of the rivulets (maybe not so shallow after all?), but no sign of the tide coming in.
On the walk back to the campground, DH spotted a bald eagle flying above the mountain to our left. It was soon joined by another, and we watched the two of them soar while we walked far below, and with the inlet even further below, to our right. Even with not seeing the tide, it was a nice evening.
Two days later, on our way down the Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm again from Anchorage (having just picked up DS2, DD1 & Honorary Son from the airport), I happened to look out the window of the RV and notice that there was water in the inlet. Then I noticed that around the bend up ahead, there was not water in the inlet. I mentioned to DH that the tide must be coming in, and right about then, we all saw it: the bore tide!
DH immediately pulled off the road in first pullout that was ahead of the water. In the time it took for us all to pile out of the RV , the bore tide was nearly even with our location. It was just a few feet high and was being ridden by two surfers. We were able to watch them go by, taken down the Turnagain Arm by the bore tide until it and they were out of sight.
surfing the bore tide
That was one of the first very cool things on our vacation.