Day Three: Fox Island, Kenai Fjords, Seward, Hope

7:20 a.m.

Last night at the campfire the staff people were looking at the clouds in the west and saying that rain was coming. This morning it's here. Kind of a Seattle-style rain. It's grey and drizzly. Well, a little more than drizzly. I thought I packed my rain pants to bring to Fox Island, but I guess I left them in the van, so I guess I'll have to spend most of today's boat ride inside the cabin.

Grey morning on Fox Island

I'm sitting on the porch of the Wilderness Lodge listening to the rain and the birds. A distant boat heading south in Resurrection Bay is the only other sound, along with the water lapping onto the beach. I wonder if the boat is off to catch halibut. Yesterday while waiting to board our cruise, we watched fishermen unloading their catch from their boat. Some really big halibut.

I just got a private wildlife show and went down to the edge of the water to investigate. It was a family of river otters--five of them. For a while they were swimming right toward me, and I got to see them really close up. With binoculars I could see their whiskers and watch their nostrils flair. Then they swam off. I also saw herring jumping out of the water.

The rain has stopped. For now.

10:00 a.m.

Just finished our nature walk on the beach. The sun is coming out. We saw lots of birds: pigeon guillemot, hermit thrush, goldeneye, Stellar's jay, plus interesting sea animals stuck on land in low tide.

They're grilling salmon for lunch. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with cheese and mushrooms, really good fried potatoes, and fresh melon.

12:50 p.m.

On the boat touring Kenai Fjords. Just had a wonderful sighting of humpback whales!


1:10 p.m. 

We just saw a sea otter with two pups swim past us, plus two oystercatchers, and a bald eagle in its nest.

2:20 p.m. 

The amazing show continues. The most thrilling, on Chiswell Island, were the Steller Sea Lions lying on the rocks. And the puffins and kittiwakes. There was another humpback whale, but we lost it.

4:00 p.m. 

It is hard to express the awesome beauty of Holgate Glacier. It's not that it is a pretty thing to look at. It's seeing this massive wall of ice and realizing that it is actually a flowing river, with Harding Icefield as its headwater. We saw it calve a few times--it sounds like cracks of thunder--and the sound is continual, as the glacier flows, breaking apart and compressing against itself. Big chunks of ice float in the water extending maybe a mile away. It brought tears to my eyes.

Holgate Glacier

Holgate Glacier

Holgate Glacier

10:30 p.m.

I'm sitting on the porch outside my cabin in Hope. We have a very early morning tomorrow, so I'm not going to write too much. About 50 feet below and in front of me is a creak and waterfall, the sound of which will be a wonderful serenade for sleeping tonight.

We had just a little time in Seward before we got back in the van.


Cleaning fish in Seward

We drove to Hope (and had a sighting of a porcupine ambling along the side of the road) and directly to the Discovery Cafe.

Dinner at the Discovery Cafe in Hope

Dinner was really good, especially considering how ordinary looking the restaurant is and how tiny the town of Hope is. I had blackened halibut with rice and veggies, and a really good mixed berry cream cheese pie for dessert. We even got the recipe:

Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Pie

Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar into 11 ounces of softened cream cheese. Fold in one container of Cool Whip. Stir in 2 cups of mixed berries (frozen are fine). Pour the mixture into a graham cracker crust. Chill and serve!
Then Patrick gave us a little tour of Hope and brought us to Discovery Cabins. Our cabin consists of nothing but a set of bunk beds and a table and some lamps. The bathroom is up the path. It's very charming.

OK, I'm going to go brush my teeth and try to sleep until 4:30.