Seward and the Alaska SeaLife Center: A day off

November 2016 along Lowell Point State Recreation Area's beach. Note a lack of any snowfall. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

November 2016 along Lowell Point State Recreation Area’s beach. Note a lack of snowfall. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

It rained all day yesterday, sheet after sheet of icy droplets draped in a dreary fog that wrapped around the Chugach range and obstructed our usual view. This week seemed extra long, and the added grayness of what should have been a snow-capped, sun-kissed November instead proved to be anything but.

So we left town. I had been feeling restless, anyway. We all were.

Veterans Day on a Friday, let’s go somewhere and recoup, regenerate Team AK Fam before the holidays.

Seward.

Two hours south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway, past Turnagain Arm, Girdwood, and the turnoff to Hope<—Another story, but you should go there….Past the little ice-free lakes where Tundra Swans still swam majestically. Through Moose Pass and along Kenai Lake, an expanse of aqua-green calm.

A memorial to soldiers at Lowell Point State Recreation Area. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Seward greeted us with spots of blue sky and chattering eagles as we drove into the parking lot at Lowell Point State Recreation Site, reached via a bumpy dirt road about two miles from downtown. It’s our usual first stop, and today, a logical one for Veterans Day, as the site was an access point for Fort McGilvray and Caines Head, two remote figureheads during Alaska’s contribution to World War II. The tide was coming in, a few families and their dogs wandered the black pebble beach while sea otters paddled aimlessly around in the swells beyond our reach, but always watching. Reminder: Parking is $5/day or free with an Alaska State Parks Pass, available at many locations around the state (2017 passes go on sale January 1).

Kate Mayberry, fellow at the Alaska SeaLife Center, is an enthusiastic octopus lover. And a darn smart young lady. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Kate Mayberry, fellow at the Alaska SeaLife Center, is an enthusiastic octopus lover. And a darn smart young lady. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

The Alaska SeaLife Center was expecting us at 3 p.m. for an Octopus Encounter, and I’ll talk more about that visit in greater detail next week in my Alaska Dispatch News column, but rest assured it was a worthwhile hour of suckers, mantles, and crab claws. A delightful fellow at the center, Kate Mayberry, was as fresh and full of positive energy about ocean science and octopuses (yes, you call more than one octopus by the -es) and her brief tenure in Alaska. We found ourselves smiling a lot more by the end of the tour.

I also sat down with SeaLife Center Education Specialist Darin Trobaugh and realized that there are a whole lot of people doing a ton of good to encourage and empower young people to care about our oceans, everywhere. From virtual classrooms to a middle school Ocean Sciences Club, Trobaugh and his team are committed to not just Alaska youth, but all kids, in all corners of the world. You’ll hear more about that in my column, too.

I fed an octopus named Leo. I FED AN OCTOPUS. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

I fed an octopus named Leo. I FED AN OCTOPUS. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

But – did you know – Alaskans will receive free admission to the Alaska SeaLife Center every Wednesday now through February, 2017? And that groups or even families can arrange for special encounters and behind-the-scenes experiences that offer far more than just a walk through the facility. It’s up-close, learn-by-going immersion in all the good happening at the Alaska SeaLife Center, and it’s here for you. The facilty is open daily from 12-5 p.m. and if you don’t go on a free Wednesday, find admission rates here.

After a renovation several years ago, the Breeze Inn in Seward is clean, comfortable, and quite cozy on a cold night. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

After a renovation several years ago, the Breeze Inn in Seward is clean, comfortable, and quite cozy on a cold night. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Looking for good deals for an overnight? We’re settled in at the Breeze Inn near the Seward small boat harbor. For $69/night, we are in a clean, comfortable room with a fireplace in the lobby, close to all that we need.

What a gift, this day, in this place.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul.” ~Wyland 

 

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