The humpback whale leapt into the air just a few feet away, close enough to see drops of water roll off its skin. It was the 30th or 31st (or who knows) time he (she?) had breached in the last 30-40 minutes. The captain of our water taxi called it one of the most amazing exhibitions of whale behavior he had seen in his many years shuttling kayakers to and from Kenai Fjords National Park.
The day began bright and sunny as we pulled out of the Seward harbor earlier that morning and stayed that way for the next hour or so. By the time we reached Aialik Bay in the national park, our destination for our half day of kayaking along the face of Aialik Glacier, it was overcast and grey.I’m not sure what it is about places like this — bleak, raw, primeval — that appeal to me, but I loved it. My protective layer of fat, plus my various layers of synthetic fiber clothing (“cotton kills” is the mantra in cold, wet climates) helped. Katherine wasn’t quite as thrilled. We sat in our kayaks for as much as 30 minutes watching blocks of ice as large as houses tumble into the water and listening to the cracks of thunder from the calving ice.
After three hours of paddling and floating we were back in the water taxi, warm and relatively dry. I dozed off and on for the first hour of our ride back until we stumbled upon Humpback Breachfest 2015. That woke me up.
Besides the park and the glaciers, Seward offers other charms. It is picturesque and historic (the Iditarod Trail begins on the waterfront in Seward). And the Cookery restaurant is excellent. We ate there both nights we were in Seward — fresh seafood including broiled oysters, mussels in cider cream, the best fish chowder I have ever eaten, and king salmon. They don’t call it “king” for nothing.
For a place to stay I recommend Bell in the Woods, a quiet B & B about five miles from the heart of Seward. The proprietors, Brooke and Nick, are very helpful. Brooke bakes a mean lemon cake as well as an excellent spice cake which she sets out every afternoon in case your appetite won’t let you wait until you get to the Cookery. And the breakfast is as good a B&B breakfast as you will get anywhere.
Whales, glaciers and fine dining — a good a way to end our Alaskan adventure.
(The water taxi and kayak adventure was arranged by Kayak Adventures Worldwide)