Saturday, November 23, 2013

Somewhere New: Seward, Alaska

Spring in Alaska is a magical time. The sunlight returns and the buds start to grow and everyone is in a jubilant mood. My first few days in Alaska felt like an east coast winter. Naked trees, wind and a general overcast funk lay over the land. Everyone I met lamented that spring was weeks behind schedule. Perhaps one of the coolest parts of my trip was that by the end of my week spring had fully arrived. I've never before been so present in the change of a season as I was this week watching the trees and plants burst in only a few short days. 

I joined some friend of my boyfriend for an overnight camping trip on the Kenai Peninsula. Lauren, Eric, Joe and Amy and a whole team of dogs set up camp at Ptarmigan Creek

Camping in Alaska 101: It always rains - bring a tarp and some Crazy Creeks.

I have to say the Alaskan mentality impressed me. The weather can often be harsh and sometimes downright miserable I imagine but that doesn't stop people from spending time outside or being active. 
In no time at all, well actually in like half an hours time, the boys had our tarp up and we were unwrapping food and passing around Fireball.

The campground was full of other happy campers but each campsite had a protective barrier of pines around it obscuring our view. Nestled in our makeshift fort we dined on jiccama potato salad and several raw vegan treats that Joe and Amy made. The dogs came to attention and stared off into the pines to our right. Over a stump a giant jowled head peeked into our campsite at us. He stomped through the trees towards us, giant pendulum of a tail swinging back and forth as he approached us to the furry of our dogs.
The voice bellowed from the protected pocket of the neighboring campsite. The lumbering monster stopped momentarily and half turned back towards his site before continuing towards us. More crashing through the pines and next to pop over the stump was what we presumed to be Zeus's human companion. Rotund and red headed he made his way towards us still shouting at his mythologically sized dog. 
"He's harmless he's just big," he promised us. After introductions he jabbered on about having a dog that you don't have to bend down to pet before traipsing back through the woods to his campsite. "You all should come over," he offered, though we were already quite content where we were.

A while later we heard loud laughing from his campsite and one of the dogs wandered over to their site. He called through the trees to tell us he had our dog and that we should all come over. Holding her hostage? We walked over and joined there group and then began our awkward interactions full of his drunk misremembering of our names and that eventually ended with each of us slipping away under pretenses never to return. 

The morning brought sunshine and after breakfast and breaking camp we headed for Seward. 

Seward is the home of the Mount Marathon Race in which 800 men and women run up the mountain on the 4th of July. The race has been run since 1915 and is actually kind of hard to get into with people all over sending in their application with hopes of being able to run.

Still packed down with snow in May we made it a tiny way up the mountain - enough to see back out to the bay - and then headed back in search of hot drinks and food. 

Us girls took a walk down to the piers and checked out boats while the boys headed down to the water with fishing poles. The clouds rolled back and the mountains came out behind the harbor and it was beautiful!

Seward is a tiny little town that looks like it survives mostly on tourism and luxury cruising boat enthusiasts but as always there's more to a town than meets the eyes and we were only in Seward for an afternoon. 

The local collector - there's one of these odd people in every town I feel like. 

Something we didn't have time to do was visit the Alaska Sealife Center. Maybe next time!

We headed back to Anchorage and low and behold, all the buds from a few days before were already unfolding.

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