The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Seward -- Part 5: Touring by Boat

Saturday, July 7th, was our day to leave the car and truck parked and to tour the waters around Seward’s Resurrection Bay and beyond. 
The marine tour we selected from our TourSaver Coupon Book was Major’s 7.5 hour Kenai Fjords National Parks tour.  We actually had coupons for 3-hour or 4-hour tours, but we learned those shorter tours spent all of their time within Resurrection Bay.  The longer tour actually took us out into the Gulf of Alaska and to Alalik Bay where we could pull in next to Alalik Glacier.  The longer tour also included a meal option which I’ll discuss later.
We checked-in around 9:15 and was given tickets with “assigned” table numbers.  Then it was off to Pier E where the Kenai Star awaited.  The four of us (Rinehimers and Kings) were joined by one other couple, Don and Jodi, who turned out to be very friendly table mates.  IMG_5046IMG_5049

A little after 10:00 a.m. we headed out, passing our rigs parked on the beach at the Seward City Campground.  Our gray & brown motorhome is easy to spot among all the white RVs.  The Kings are in a 5th wheel down a couple of spaces to the left.
The National Park Service provides a ranger on all the tour boats who explains what we are seeing both on the land (rock formations, glaciers, granite cliffs, etc.) and on the sea (humpbacks and orca whales, dolphins, otters and seals, and marine birds).  Critter photos will be posted below in the Wildlife section.

IMG_5083The swells on the water going out into the Gulf of Alaska got our attention.  None of us got sea sick, but we can’t say that for many others on-board. Once we got back into Alalik Bay, the waters calmed and dinner was announced.  (I’m sure a lot of folks had no plans to eat anything else on this trip.)
When we purchased our tour tickets they also offered an “all-you-can-eat” prime rib and salmon buffet dinner for “just” $20 more per person.  Okay, we did it but I would not necessarily recommend it for others.  As Frank King said, you can put together a pretty good carry-on lunch for $40/couple. 
In addition to the main entrees, you could have salad, rice pilaf and sourdough bread. Actually, the prime rib was cut to order and tasted pretty good.  They even provided “raspberry horseradish sauce” that Luke said tasted pretty good.

Oh, did I mention that desserts were “all-you-can-eat” and they encouraged you to take a couple?  These are “before” and “after” shots of our desserts.  Remember, there were six of us at our table.

One of my complaints about the dinner was the “timing”.  While I certainly did not want to be inside in a buffet line during the high swells we encountered in the Gulf, I also did not want to be stuck in line while we were sitting in the calm waters waiting to hear the Atalik Glacier calving. We were able to see some calving from our table while we ate, but it would have been wonderful to hear the cracking and caught photos of the glacier falling into the sea.
Except for our meal time, we spent most of our 7.5 hours on the top deck taking in the sights.  From these photos, you can tell that we did dress in layers in anticipation of the cold weather.  The temperatures definitely dropped while we were near the glacier.
The twins (see what happens when you find a good jacket sale), Frank and Luke check out the shore line.  Gloria, Frank, Judy and Luke all wearing new jackets.
I wanted the “DVD version” of seeing marine wildlife – you know, the huge whale breaching high above the water surface in front of a calving glacier just off the bow of our ship.  Instead, for the most part, I got distance shots of “humps” on the horizon, fins from whale pods, and sea lions that looked like rocks along the shore. 
I did get some shots worth sharing for this wildlife report:
A sea otter and one of three pods of fin whales we saw
Seals basking on an island
A lonely Steller sea lion (the dark lump on the rock) on shore and Tufted Puffin birds “trying” to fly.  Puffins are better swimmers and divers than flyers.  They over eat and can’t get back into the air.
Dall’s Porpoises,with the same two-tone coloring of orcas, gave us a good look at how fast they can swim as they played along the side and bow of our ship.
NEXT: Seward to Soldotna to Homer

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