For the first time on this trip, rain has impacted my activities – mostly cooking – in a way that leaves me wet and cold. Woke up this morning to rain pounding on the roof of the car, and remembered I had opened the windows a bit last night for some fresh air. I had to quickly find the keys, start up the car (from the back seat) and put the windows up! A bit of a trick when you are my age and state of fitness! So I snuggled back down in the quilts and decided to see if I could wait it out. Sure enough, about 45 minutes later the pounding on the roof had subsided. Let's get the tea made at least, I thought. Then I can deal with whatever comes my way. I managed a whole breakfast, although it was drizzling, and I had to eat in the car. But it cleared up, and I was on my way.
I had plans for two activities today: the Seward Sea Life Center, and hiking to Exit Glacier (a part of the park that you can reach on foot). But it was only 8 AM, and who knew what time the Sea Life center opened. I got to the parking lot, and looked up toward the building and saw an "Open" sign. Sure enough, the center opened at 8 AM. Of course, I had seen a cruise ship in the harbor, and I know businesses open as soon as the ship pulls in, including the aquarium. I think I was their first customer of the day! But it meant that I had the place pretty much to myself for a while at least. Being a rainy, foggy day, I assumed (correctly) that they would be busy in a little while.
I've enjoyed tidepooling for many years, ever since we lived in Hawaii in the '80's, and this was like being in heaven to me. All the stuff I would be searching for in the tidepools was here, and you could actually touch some of it. There were urchins and sea stars and anemones and sea cucumbers and sunflower stars, and some of them were babies and some were huge. I did it all! Then I went around and checked out all the other exhibits.
On the cruise yesterday, we spent some time at a rookery where we all tried to photograph the birds flying around. I got a lot of useless photographs; but this Sea Life Center had a bird room with nesting birds of the species we had seen yesterday, plus a few others. I saw Tufted Puffins and Horned Puffins up close and personal, Oystercatchers, Eider Ducks, Harlequin Ducks and red legged Kittiwakes and I took photos of them all. Lots of photos….but I'm only including a few here!
|Red Legged Kittiwakes|
One of the exhibits was an octopus (named Lulu) who had laid eggs that had just begun to hatch. They were in the aquarium with her. She will die soon, but her little ones will live on. They were amazing to see. At first I thought there was some kind of debris in the tank – sort of like cottonwood bits floating in the air—but it turned out they were the little octopi. You could see them propelling themselves around, and see that they really were octopi if you got up close to them. Drew – it took me back to you in 5th grade when Mr. Alt had an octopus in an aquarium in your classroom and she laid eggs…do you remember that?
After 3 or 4 delightful hours, I moved on to find some lunch (halibut fish and chips, yummy) and Exit Glacier. But as I was driving through Seward , I noticed murals painted on some of the walls, and when I looked it up in the Milepost, it mentioned that there were quite a few of them. Short delay for Exit Glacier – I had to find the murals! They were quite a find; some were historic, like the one commemorating the original start of the Iditarod, some were fun (like this one called Table Games and Senior Prom), but all were great to see.
|Table Games and Senior Prom|
I finally got to Exit Glacier at about 3 PM, and it wasn't really raining, just kind of wet. Seattlites will know what I mean! The hike was short (only a mile) and the trail was very level and well maintained, but it was good to get out and walk a bit. Even the mosquitos mostly stayed home, because it was cold. It was strange to see how much and how rapidly the glacier has retreated, and the stream coming out of the base was high and fast. Not sure what that means….
Back to the campground for dinner, and it started raining again. Oh well, my grill is covered, so I got the salmon and sweet corn ready, put them on the grill, and when they were done, ran for the car and shelter to eat.
Now it's into the van for the rest of the evening, and tomorrow, I'm off again. I don't know where…perhaps back to Anchorage for another day or so, or maybe on to Palmer and Tok and the Top of the World. We'll see what tomorrow brings!