Friday, July 5, 2019

July 4th - Seward Style

Deep in the dusty caverns of my mind, so many of the old
volumes of memory have been lost to time and circumstance.

Perhaps due to living a life full of experiences, the need to make room in the
library for the newer volumes means the older less read ones get stored in
the basement in hard to find corners.

Whatever the reason - one memory that has always remained in the forefront has
been the 4th of July celebrations in the town that I grew up in New Jersey.

The summer air would hang heavy with the smell of fresh cut grass, as
the annual morning parade passed by the WWI and WWII memorials at Memorial Park,
which was just up the tree-lined street from my house.

After the parade everyone would go down to the firehouse for free hot dogs.

The kids would wash them down with cold root from the keg, while the adults would
do the same with beer drawn from kegs placed in barrels filled with ice.

We kids would climb all over the firetrucks, endlessly ringing the bells and sounding the sirens,
and yet the grownups rarely told us to give it a rest.

When they did...   we would stop for barely a moment before beginning again anew.

Walking home we would pass by the Texaco station where the uniformed attendant
would pump gas into your tank, wash your windows and ask "would you like me to check the oil?"

Inside the station would be a rack of free road maps of NJ and the adjoining states.
We might stop in and grab a map or two off of the rack then stop in the cool shade of
an old Maple tree and look at the map and dream of traveling to those far off places.

I've been long removed from that time and place but the memory is as strong now as if it
was yesterday.  And yesterday I got just a small taste of that past from the 4th of July
celebrations here in Seward Alaska.

The celebrations started promptly at 1 minute past midnight July 4th with a fireworks
show down along the waterfront.

Since we are parked here - we had front row seats.

Independence Day Fireworks on Seward, Ak Waterfront

You can see that its not all that dark here at midnight.
While the sun has just set - it never gets very far below the horizon.

The air has been very hazy for days now due to a wildfire burning about
30 miles west of here.

Smoke from wildfires

At 0600 the Silversea Silver Muse arrives under a smoky orange hued sky

Silversea Silver Muse arrives Seward, Ak
We had the PartyBus dressed in its 4th of July bunting.

Behind the bus stands Mt Marathon which will be the focus of attention today
as three races  (Kids, Women, and Men) race from downtown, up to the top, and back
down to the finish line.
   A vertical gain of almost 3,000'

Mt Marathon behind the PartyBus
The foot race is a climb and descent of Mt Marathon. 
It is 1 1/2 miles up and 1 1/2 miles down, and includes forests, ravines, cliffs, 
scree fields, waterfalls, and a spectacular view.

On part of the course the runners travel thru an ice cold stream.

The womans race began at 11am. 

The photo below was taken on my TV during the woman's race up thru the trees.

Below you see one of the leaders approaching the top.
In the background along the water is where we are located.

Hannah Lafleur  of Seward, Alaska finished first with a time of 53:24
Seriously folks...  it would take me 53 hours not minutes!

The kids race was cancelled due to the unhealthy smoke in the air from the fires.

Sandwiched between the Woman's and Mens race is the parade.

Start of Seward, Ak Independence Day Parade

Orca in Parade
Petro Marine - Alaska's Largest Independent Petroleum company had about 6
antique vehiles including large trucks, pickup trucks, and automobiles.

Antique Ford Flatbed

Antique Chevy Pickup

Antique Delivery Van

Antique Chevy Station Wagon

There were also private entries including this monster truck.

Monster Truck in Seward, Ak Parade

The National Park and National Forest Service are huge participants in the local
economy and are an important part of the local community.

Chugach National Forest "Keep Bears Wild" Float

Kenai Fjords National Park Rangers
And just like perhaps every parade in the USA - The local Fire Dept.

The tail of the Parade departs up 5th ave where it will disperse in a few blocks

Walking back to the bus along the waterfront we spot some hardy folks
"beaching it - Alaska Style"

The water temp of the Bering Sea is about 48° and the air temps
are at historic levels.   Anchorage has set an all time record of 91° on the 4th
easily beating it's prior record temp of 85°

Think of this.
The average summertime high temperature in anchorage is 75°
It has never - ever been hotter than 85°
And now it has hit 91 and that is expected to continue for several more days.
The myth of global warming continues to set new record high temperatures year after year.

At the beach in Seward, Alaska
Back at the bus we had time for a quick sandwich and it was time for the mens race.
the photo below shows the tiny dots of spectators and racers grinding their way to the top.
The average speed to the top is about 2 mph and down about 12 mph.

Coming down - the racers take the trail that arcs out to the right, then
cross over at the mid point to the left.
Below you can see the dust trail kicked up by the racers as they slide down on the 
slippery loose rock.

We hustled back the mile to the finish line just in time to see Max King from Bend, Oregon
cross the finish line with a time of 43:39

In the finish area the racers get sprayed down with cool water and then give
interviews to the TV cameras.

Second - just under 2 minutes behind was Eric Strabel from Anchorage.

Finishers cool down and congratulate each other.

About 5 pm back at the bus, this mornings arrival, the Silver Muse, departed and
just like that the day was finished.

Silver Muse departs Seward, Ak
No - we did not have hot dogs and root beer at the fire house.
Nor did we stop at the gas station and grab some free maps.
We did not sit under the Maple tree and dream of far off places.
But the place had that small town feel that just for a few hours was enough
to bring me back to that place and time that I will fondly remember till I breathe my last.

And instead of dreaming about those far off places - we have been living that dream so
I shan't look back and wish for the past - but rather continue to look forward and hope.

And of course this morning - a new arrival was cloaked in fog at the dock when I awoke.
A new day had begun.

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Sea in Seward, Ak 

🇺🇸  Happy 243rd Birthday America!  🇺🇸

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Life in Seward

Welcome to my new blog layout.
Now that I'm retired and have some extra time on my hands I'm playing around with
things a bit.   The changes are a work in progress.

I've tried to make it easier to read.
Any comments? - let me hear them.

 1  Click on Pictures to enlarge
2  Click on where are we today (top right sidebar)

It will bring up a map were you can see where we are and you can also select
date ranges to see where we've been.

Now that that is out of the way.

Seward Waterfront Park

The waterfront park is a big long gravel parking lot on the waterfront.
It is about a mile long and has grassy areas and gravel areas.
There are places for tents and RV's and a town park.

There is a walking path along the whole front of the Park that runs about 1.5 miles from
the Ship docks at the north end of the bay, past the RV Parking area, & town park
all the way south to the Marine Center and the downtown area of Seward.

We are parked at the far south end of the area, just a few spots from the south end
where the town park area begins 

Our home in Seward
View below is the south end of the RV area looking north.
We are about 4 up on the left.

Below - taken from the same spot - looking south towards the park,
and further beyond (about 1/2 mile) would be the downtown area.

The Waterfront park has some water & elec sites but most are dry camping.
We, of course, are in the dry camping area.

So.. While settled in I take care of some chores such as cleaning off the solar panels.

1,120watts of panels keeps thing charged.
On those rare days when I have to run the generator to top up the batteries...
(only 1 day in 21) 
I take advantage of the extra power to roast some coffee.

I have about 40 lbs of Green beans, several varieties,  
that I measure into 1 lb baggies as needed

Green Coffee Beans

The finished product!   Dark Roast Costa Rican
Our front window is a tourist attraction.
Many people who walk by each day stop to admire the plants and 
solar animated characters.

People are constantly stopping to take pictures of themselves by the bus.
They don't have vehicles like this overseas so its unusual to them.
There are also only a few party busses here.  Most must be in an RV Park somewhere.
That only adds to the attraction.

Sometimes we feel like the animal in the zoo getting our picture taken.

A photo taker sights us in.

June is the Halibut Fishing Derby.

Halibut & Salmon off of one boat.
Below is looking at the bus from the beach.  
Behind us is Mt Marathon.
Towering about 2,800' over us - on July 4th each year there is a marathon race
from town, up and back down.   Its a grueling race and the winning times are about
40 minutes for the mens race.

You can see the tracks going up the mountain.
One more visible on the right side of the ridge and one on the left.
One is for uphill - the other for downhill.

We'll cover the race in a later post.

Mt Marathon, Seward, Ak.


I have not yet really captured the great shots, but its still been interesting
watching the sea life so I thought I'd share a bit of what we have so far this year.

Each day we walk the waterfront with the dogs.

Land Doodles in Seward
A Bald Eagle has taken up residence in the vicinity and it keeps making an
appearance now and then.

The other day an angry Raven was trying to chase it away.

When the Raven left - the Eagle continued is patrol.

Sea Otters are always all over the bay.
Here a pair was enjoying a clam dinner.

Another pair was playing

This is our 4th time here.
We've never before have seen Stellar Sea Lions up in the bay.
There is a big colony a few miles down on the far side of the bay,
perhaps they are roaming further in search of food.

I have seen a few come up with a large fish in their mouth.

A small group (raft) of about 6 have been around.

Another amazing sight we've never seen this far up the bay...
A mother Humpback Whale and its baby.

Whale spouts just before surfacing

Below - in the distance you can see both mother and baby.

Mother & baby Humpback

If you dont like the view just wait - it will change.
Below is the same view as above.

After all this walking and wildlife viewing....
It's time for a nap.

Gracie dreams of the one that got away

Lucy dreams of dinner

The ships

One of the cool things about Seward is the port.
Seward is a stop on the Alaska Cruise Ship Circuit.
Many ships use Seward at the end of the line.

One route is from Vancouver - up the coast ending at Seward - where they discharge
the 7-day passengers, take on a new load for the opposite trip south to Vancouver.

Some make the 14-day round trip.

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Sea docked in the fog.
Resurrection bay is a dead end.   
The ships enter from the south, dock at the north end, and then depart to the south.

This means that every ship must execute a 180 degree about face.
Either before - or after - they dock

Some make the turn upon arrival - then back into the dock.
Some pull straight into the dock - then back out, and turn around to depart.

In either case - the ships make that 180 degree spin right in front of our RV.
It makes for a fun show.

Below there are 2 ships at the dock.
One facing each way.

The ships all arrive in the early am.
Around 0300-0430 is the norm.

The Depart somewhere between 1800-2000

Radiance of the Sea arrived this morning at 0445
She pulled straight in - so will be rotating tonight. 

Radiance of the Sea arriving in Seward
Regent Seven Seas Mariner turns 180° upon departure
on June 19, 2019

Turn complete - heading out to sea
The Holland America Ships seem to like to back in first.
Here the MS Noordam is making its 180 directly in front of the RV
at 0445.  (yes I was up to watch it)

The MS Westerdam departs.
Like the other Holland America ships - she pirouetted in the morning so
upon departure she sails straight out and down the bay.

Passing right in front of our window. 
A perfect viewing stand in all weather!

The variety of ships is fun to observe

Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Jewell
Every ship that arrives or leaves the Port of Seward is required to have a Harbor Pilot on Board.
The pilot is an experienced captain who is intimately famaliar with the harbor, the bay,
and its currents.

They take command of the ship about 4 miles or so south of here near where the bay forks.

In the morning, the Tugboat "Junior" runs out to meet the incoming ship.
The Harbor pilot climbs aboard the ship, and takes command all the way to the dock.

Tugboat Junior heading out to the rendezvous point
In the evening, Junior first maneuvers to the pilings where a mate scrambles up a ladder
onto the pilings to release the outer lines securing the ship.

While the ship slowly leaves the dock with the Harbor Pilot in command,  Junior is
rushing back out to the rendezvous point.

The ship might - or might not - need to make it's 180° turn.
In either event - once at the head of the bay, Junior and the departing
ship will rendezvous and the Pilot will climb down from the ship onto Junior,
and Junior will make the long run back to the port.

Tugboat Junior returns to Seward with the Pilot on board
Just about every day this routine plays out in the morning and the evening.
And we have a front row seat.

Just a little taste of what life is like from where we sit.

Greetings from Seward!