What a Prince……. Alaska Part II

Early morning, still dark and while the inhabitants of Anchorage continued to blissfully slumber on, we left our warm bed and headed downtown to the train station.

And our destination!

Well we were headed to Seward………

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The journey from Anchorage to Seward is long yet so enjoyable.  This is slow travel.  Unhurried and timelessly beautiful and I’d like to think this is the way the world should always be viewed when travelling……….

We rocketed over bridges and over white water rivers.  We surged past ice blue glaciers and the rail tracks ran alongside grassy meadows full of wildflowers favored by shy moose and bear.  We wound our way below incredible ever-green covered mountains with their peaks occasionally hidden by mist and rain then lit by perfect sunlight and we travelled through those small maverick townships.

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For the most, the sky was impossibly blue and the water reflected the landscape like that of a mirror.  You cannot help but be affected by the beauty and magnitude of the landscape in Alaska because it is simply that spectacular.

Hours later, and greeted by heavy salt laden air, we arrived in Seward.  Seward is a city at the head of Resurrection Bay in the Kenai Peninsular and this coastal area is one of Alaska’s oldest communities.  The draw card however, is that Seward is the perfect launching pad from which to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park and Prince William Sound.

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Its funny how people remember significant events during their lifetime.  Tragedy is so often marked by a graphic memory of where you were and of what you were doing on a specific day which etches itself into your psyche for reasons best known only to you.   I  remember the oil spill from the Exon Valdez and of where I was on that fateful day in March 1989.  You could ask me what I had for dinner two nights ago and I would have little  recollection but the sorrow and heartbreak from me of this ecological disaster remains vivid.  I sometimes allow myself to be haunted by images or events and this was certainly one of those moments as the suffering and distress of the wildlife was so visually powerful.

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The above images are from National Geographic…….

It has been almost 28 years since the tragedy of the Exon Valdez where more than 11 million gallons of oil was spilt onto the fragile and beautiful ecosystem of Prince William Sound.  Even all these years later, this area is still yet to fully recover from that  man-made environmental catastrophe.  Unbelievably, the spill of oil stretched well over 1,000 miles and it is believed to have decimated up to 250,000 sea birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 seals, 22 Orca from which the pods never recovered and 250 bald eagles.  The spill wiped out clam and muscle populations and it obliterated the salmon, halibut and herring populations by killing billions of eggs.   These numbers and the destruction done really is unfathomable!   Will we never learn!

Not long after leaving the boat harbour, we saw sea otters.  Happy and content little otters just floating about doing sea otter things.   These are such sweet little characters and what I loved was to learn that sea otters hold hands with each other while they sleep or rest so as not to drift apart and lose each other.  While watching these little otters I thought of someone dear and hoped she knew I was holding her hand so as not to drift too far away as the miles continued to separate us…………

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Out on the water and under a massive Alaskan sky of snow winter blue we saw impressively stunning glaciers.  There are well over 100 glaciers in and around the sound and they are all uniquely different with their wintery colouring.  These glaciers are actually massive walls of rivers of prehistoric ice that slowly and continually move their way down the mountains.

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While looking at one of the glaciers we heard the sharpest of cracks.  It sounded like a loud whip crack which was followed by a long low rumble not unlike thunder then we saw a large shard of ice fall from the glacier into the water which then became an ice berg.

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This entire area is an oceanic landscape of raw and wondrous beauty and I would have to say that for me, Alaska would be unrivaled with its national parks and reserves.  During our hours on the pristine waterways we saw cresting whales grey, minke and humpback, orca, puffins in their rookeries who are too cute for words and which reminded me of little British gentlemen, glaciers, seabirds, seals and otters.

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We marveled at the rugged coast line and the incredible floating ice fields.  It really was nothing short of spectacular and this is what you get when you allow wilderness to just be wilderness.

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With all that we saw, I was captivated by the orca.  They often broke the surface in their small family pods and lord, their skins, so distinctive in black and white were as glossy as silk.

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When you travel and appreciate what you have experienced you layer memories upon memories and these moments are to be treasured.  This is why you should always have mindful gratitude in all that you do especially when you travel as it brings such love and wonderment into your life.

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I will long remember this time spent out on that vast body of water as its beauty and the life force of it will forever resonate with me.  I’m so in love with Alaska in a way that I did not expect and trust me, that’s not such a bad feeling to have………..xx