Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Seen Around Seward

Our home for the week that we were in Seward was the town's Resurrection campground. It's essentially a parking lot, but one row faces the bay, and the price is cheap.

For most of the week that we were there, we had "reserved signs" on either side of us. The neighbors showed up for 3 days over the holiday but had paid for much longer periods just to insure they had a space. Nearly every space in town that had room for an RV had one parked there.

The town has a large marina with a mixture of private pleasure boats, tour boats, and fishing boats - both commercial and charter.

In addition, during the summer, they host a cruise ship nearly every day.

The town has a mixture of architecture including a number of building that are over 100 years old. Brown & Hawkins started as a business buying and storing gold.

There are a lot of interesting murals in town. There was a document describing some of them but there wasn't any sort of organized tour of them.

The sun was setting but very obscured by smoke from the Swan Lake fire. Some days the wind would blow the smoke out, other days it would blow it in to town.

Another mural, this one on the Senior Center celebrating the Mount Marathon race.

As usual, there was unusual rust to be found.

One morning we drove around to the other side of Resurrection Bay to the town's shipyard where a number of boats were "on the hard." I liked the name of this one.

The collection of used pilot houses caught my eye,

and then around the corner was a new one. They all seemed to be waiting for someone to come along with a vision.

Of course, we did some geocaching. While there were geocaches in the downtown area, there were also some in the woods. There's a trailhead here somewhere...

And once you got past the brush of the roadside, the spruce forest opened up some. I still don't understand why the locals insist on using bison tubes in the forest, but at least I found this one!

We did a lot of window shopping as we wandered the town, and sometimes something would catch our eye. This one looked like a geocache to me.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Seward Celebrates

Seward gets serious about their 4th of July celebration. Because it stays light so late, the 4th of July celebration starts with fireworks at 12:05 AM. Even then, it's certainly not dark.

We only had to walk about 100 feet from our trailer to have this view from the beach. A number of boats were out to watch as well, but had to move when the fog moved in. Between the fog and the smoke from the Swan Lake fire, I didn't have any luck getting any sharp pictures.

For over 100 years, the Mount Marathon 5K race has been an integral part of their 4th of July celebration. The youth race was cancelled because of air quality, and adult entrants (it's very tough to get one  of the 700 adult bibs) were allowed to withdraw and hold their spot for next year if they chose. Even so, there were lots of people in the race.

The first (of two) wave of the women's race started at 11 a.m. Billed as the world's toughest 5K race, they start downtown, headed for the racer's trailhead, and then race to the peak of the mountain at 3,022 feet, and then run back to town. The fastest runners finish in less than one hour.

I rather thought that the hospital was appropriately placed, just a couple hundred yards from the runner's trailhead.

A couple days after the race we walked out to check out the trailhead area. The runners trail (up) started with a very tight and low tunnel through the brush. The route down was the face of an avalanche chute.

It doesn't look like much, but like all photos, you can click on it to get a larger version. In this case, a large enough version to read the notes about the various sections in case you think this is something you'd like to do with your family and friends.

There are lots of videos about the race. I liked this one, narrated by in part by Fred Moore, a man who ran it for the 50th time this year.

While the women were running up the mountain and back, we visited some essential vendors. Unlike so many places, they still allow homecooked food here. An excellent pulled pork sandwich with chips and a drink for $10 as a fund raiser (for the Boys & Girls Club as I recall).

The Methodist chuch had pie with ice cream and coffee for $5 while the Catholic church was advertising their chicken dinner. I think it was the VFW that had ribs. 

53 minutes and 24 seconds after she started, local gal Hannah Lafluer crossed the finish line in 1st place.

At 1 p.m. the parade started. We just lucked into a spot in front of the fire station because there was a low wall to sit on. Turns out it was a great spot for the parade as well as watching the upper part of the mountain.

The Seward Igloo of Pioneers of Alaska had a place of honor in the parade.

Petro Marine had several restored trucks in the parade,

and Smokey the Bear was there as well. There weren't any horses or marching bands or cheerleaders in the parade, but SeaTow had a boat in the parade.

At 2 p.m., the men's race started. We were a bit late getting back from the trailer where I'd gone to get the binoculars, so this picture is taken from a different position after the race turned west and headed towards the mountain.

During the parade a few women came through, and after the men's race started there was still an occasional racer come through from the women's race. Just to complete the race was amazing to see. It's worth looking at a larger version of this picture to see the amount of mud on her back. That was quite common to see with both the women and the men.

Unlike some years where there might be snow or mud, this year the mountain was dry so you could watch the progress, especially on the downhill, indicated by the clouds of dust in the avalanche chutes.

Max King of Bend, Oregon was the men's 1st place finisher in 43 minutes 39 seconds. His time to the top was about 34 minutes.

We hadn't planned to be in Seward for the 4th, but knew we'd need to snag a spot early. We ended up spending a wonderful week in Seward and especially enjoyed the small town vibe.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Homer

Homer is a special town located near the southwest corner of the Kenai Peninsula. They pride themselves on the halibut fishing in the area.

The official weigh station for the halibut derby was empty when we walked by.

Halibut charters typically hang the boat's catch so the customers can get a photo. In this case, it was other tourists who decided to get a photo without taking the charter.

The vast majority of the halibut we saw while we were in town for a few days were small, locally known as "chickens."

In addition to halibut, the town seems to thrive on puns.
This one is tough to read - O'fishal Charters.

There are several full hook up RV parks in town and they seemed to think that $65 was an appropriate base price. We stayed at the Fishing Hole Campground operated by the city. It's just a place to park and is not particularly quiet, especially when the halibut fisherman leave with their boats in the early morning, BUT

it's only a couple hundred feet from the campground to the western end of the marina.

The marina didn't have many large boats this time (last time I was here I spotted a couple boats from Deadliest Catch) but there was an interesting assortment of commercial fishing boats, charter boats, personal boats set up for fishing, and private cruising boats.

Some of the personal fishing boats were pretty classy!

Our Fitbits appreciated our wandering around the area, checking out few stores and eateries. It was a bit of a contest between steps and calories - I think the calories won on this stop!

I loved the waiting bench provided at one shop, but ended up shopping instead of sitting.

The locals tell me they're scheduled for 48 cruises ships this year which they appreciate.

I think it's the high percentage of working boats in the marina that catches my interest. Homer remains one of my favorite Alaska towns.