The ratification of this treaty was a real squeaker in Congress, passing
the Senate by only one vote. Most folks knew next to nothing about the
bountiful human and natural resources in Alaska and considered the
purchase a colossal mistake.
The controversy about
the wisdom of purchasing over 486,000 square miles of wilderness in the
Far North continued for nearly 30 years -- until about the time gold
was discovered! That was in 1898.
When Seward was asked what he considered his greatest achievement as
Secretary of State he reportedly replied, "The purchase of Alaska --
but it will take people a generation to find out."
Lily Pad Lake along the Seward
It's too bad Seward died before that discovery so he'd know he was
more than vindicated for pushing so hard for the purchase. He had more
foresight about the possibilities of the Last Frontier in North America
than most of his contemporaries -- and he didn't even know about
the gold and oil when he negotiated the treaty with Russia. (Bet Russia
later regretted that decision!)
Alaska has contributed to American prosperity, defense, culture, and
enjoyment in many ways ever
since. It finally became a U.S. state in 1959. Now the last Monday in March
is celebrated by Alaskans as "Seward's Day."
Golden yellow pond lilies
The town of Seward, the Seward Peninsula, the Seward Highway, and
some other landmarks in Alaska were named after the man wise
enough to envision the potential of this magnificent place and gutsy
enough to push the president and Congress for its acquisition. Thank
you, Mr. Seward.
We will spend six nights and parts of seven days in the town of Seward --
and hope that's enough time to do everything we want to do here. After
several hours we already think it's pretty special.
TRIP NOTES FROM COOPER'S LANDING TO SEWARD
Although we had only 53 miles from our campsite at the Russian River
Campground on the Sterling Highway near Cooper's Landing to the Seward
Military Resort in Seward we took two days to get here.
The route was simple -- east on the Sterling Hwy. to Tern Jct.,
then south on the Seward Hwy.
Seward is at the end of the highway on the eastern side of the Kenai
Peninsula so when we leave we'll be retracing our route north. Like
Valdez, no other roads go in or out of Seward, just the marine
One of the views from our parking spot along
the Sterling Hwy. this morning
I explained in the
last entry why we chose to stay at a
scenic turnout along the Sterling Highway last night. That made this
morning's drive to Seward even shorter --just 41 miles.
We took our time because check-in at the campground in Seward is 1 PM
and we didnít know if we could get in early.
The sky was overcast when we began, then rained part of the way to
One of several rivers we crossed on the Seward Hwy.
(above); this one drains into Kenai Lake (below).
That was disappointing because this is supposed to be such a gorgeous
The clouds were so low by the time we got to Seward that we could barely
see the mountains surrounding the town. We had good views of the
numerous lakes and streams we passed, however, including some of Kenai
We stopped at a couple of overlooks on the Seward Hwy. to take pictures.
I especially liked the one overlooking Lily Pad Lake at MM 14:
The yellow pond lilies are very photogenic:
There were some other flowers at this overlook, including this fireweed
just beginning to bloom:
On the way back north I want to stop at MM 12. We missed that one today. There are beautiful
flowers, mostly lupines, at that turnoff overlooking one of the many lakes on this
scenic section of highway.
I was unable to get any really good photos on either side of the road
while Jim was driving because of the rain and mist. We also missed the
historic waterwheel in Moose Pass, where I intended to stop briefly.
I'll try to get some better pictures to show you next week if the sky is
Jim spotted a mama moose and baby on my side of the road in one of the
marsh areas near Victor Creek. I got a quick picture out the window in
passing but didnít have
time to zoom in with the lens. The highlighted moose are fuzzy in the
Even if I'd gotten a better camera recently with a super zoom lens I
wouldn't have had time to get it set up properly to take a decent
picture of those moose unless we'd had a place to pull off the road there.
safe at this spot while we were pulling the camper.
There are lots of beautiful views in this section -- even when
it's raining. I hope itís more clear when we drive back north in a few
days so we can see more and I can get better pictures.
As we drove south traffic was very heavy going north away from Seward, as we expected the day
after the holiday. Seward's population swells by more than ten times for
the popular 4th of July festivities.
We were glad to see so many RVs
going the other direction! That makes more room for us in Seward.
We have reservations so we
werenít too concerned about finding a spot, though.
Construction on one of the bridges we crossed
The first few miles of the Seward Hwy. were nice and smooth. We hit
several miles of construction, including the rebuilding of two bridges,
with some rough pavement and one-way traffic. The final miles to Seward
There arenít very many parking areas along this road that are suitable
for spending the night in an RV. There are several trailheads with
some parking. If you have a small RV you could stop overnight at one of
these and do some hiking during daylight hours.
Low clouds approaching Seward
Our visibility of the surrounding mountains diminished as we
approached Seward. It remained cloudy the remainder of
the morning and afternoon, then cleared up some during the evening.
SEWARD MILITARY RESORT: YOU MIGHT BE
ELIGIBLE, TOO . . .
This popular U.S. Army
resort consists of an RV park and
handsome motel rooms, townhouses, fabric-sided yurts, and a log cabin.
Additional facilities include a lodge with office and gift shop, an
activities building with bar, grill, and wide-screen TV, conference
rooms, a large fish cleaning building, picnic tables and grills around
the shaded grounds, restrooms, laundry rooms guests can use, and
The resort operates several deep-sea halibut charter boats that can
be used by guests.
It also offers discounted prices on activities through local
companies such as wildlife and glacier cruises, scenic river trips,
river and fly-in fishing, kayaking, white-water rafting, horseback
riding, dog sled tours, glacier treks and landings, the Alaska Sea Life
Center, and other activities, modes of transportation, and lodging in
That gives you an idea of some of the recreational/touring activities people
enjoy in the Seward area. We'll be inquiring about a few of them.
Above and below: motel
accommodations at the resort
One of the townhouses
The resort can be used by a variety of individuals and their families
if they are somehow connected to the U.S. military -- active and
retired military personnel (including the Coast Guard), reserve
components like the National Guard, military academy cadets, disabled
veterans, DOD civilian employees, and many others.
Even if you have no military connections yourself you may be able to
enjoy the facilities as a guest with a proper sponsor. Check the
eligibility page for the whole list.
This resort appears more inclusive than most military installations
where we camp. Reservations can be made a year in advance.
link for a photo gallery of the resort,
tours, fishing tips, winter pictures, etc.
SETTLING IN AT THE RV PARK
We arrived at the military resort about 11 AM. It is located at the north end
of town, one block west of the Seward Hwy.
On the drive down to Seward Jim called to see if we could get into a campsite
early and the woman who answered the phone said no, we'd have to wait until 1 PM.
When we got there we parked
in a large gravel area across from the office building and walked around
the RV park to kill time,
noting that about 15 of the 40 sites were empty and several of those
were suitable for big rigs. Almost all of the sites are back-ins, not
We went into the office. I approached a young lady who wasn't busy with
another customer and asked if we could get in early since there
were several vacant sites. She was quite agreeable to
that, saying the folks in #27 had already checked out. That was one of
our preferred sites.
Check-in, discounted tickets, and information desk at far end of gift
Better yet, we could have that site for a longer time than originally planned.
We had reservations for three nights. This site is available for five,
so we extended our stay to five nights. If we want to stay longer we can
either hope for a cancellation or stay somewhere else.
The Air Force campground
next door is our second choice for camping in Seward and right now there
is an open site when we might want it.
Staying a few days longer gives us more opportunity for the sun to come
There is a lot to do around here. It's supposed to be overcast and/or
rainy for the next two days, which "puts a damper" on our plans to hike,
ride our bikes, and take a boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park. The
weather is predicted to be more sunny by Monday.
Some of the 40 full hook-up RV sites
Another good thing is that we had to
pay for only one night up front. We can leave any time, supposedly
without a penalty (thatís not what the website says, however) and pay
when we leave. That way folks turn in their bathroom/laundry key cards and pay
for the length of time theyíve stayed Ė and the office knows which sites
are now available.
We like that system. That's
we were able to get into our site two hours "early." The
military isn't always so flexible.
There was no one next to our door side when we parked. A couple hours
later a retired couple in a tan-colored Class A motorhome with Florida tags pulled
in next to us with their door facing ours. That was good because they
were folks we'd already met when they were camped near us at JBER recently.
That's our Cameo at the Seward Military Resort RV
Although weíre closer to other RVs
than weíve been for a while we have plenty of room to put out our slides
and awnings in this site.
After riding around town this afternoon and seeing some other camping
options we decided we prefer this campground to the cityís harbor RV
parking area. We have more room and itís $6 cheaper per night here. We
donít have water standing all around in our campground, either.
The gravel sites at
the resort are on a slight slope and drain well. We
havenít seen the private RV parks yet that are farther north of town.
I'll report on those later.
We have 30-amp electricity, water, good phone and MiFi connections, free
WiFi thatís pretty easy to get on, and free cable TV for $25/night.
The sites don't have sewers; there is a dump station.
Weíre close to the grassy area used for a dog run so itís easy to take
Cody out to potty. Thatís also where people park their boats. Thatís
different than most campgrounds where we stay; boating is big
Boat storage at the campground; note all the low clouds obscuring the
mountains this afternoon.
Since we don't have a sewer connection (or a portable "Blue Boy") weíre
using the very nice restrooms in the campground. Guests are issued key
cards to open the restroom doors (and laundry rooms) so "outsiders"
aren't tempted to use the facilities.
The men's and women's rooms each have ten showers. The water flow is
great. We both agreed after taking showers this afternoon that those
were the best showers weíve had since we left our house a month ago! We
can take nice, long showers in our camper when we have full hook-ups but
we haven't had that luxury for most of this trip so far.
are two clean laundry rooms on site for guests to use. Each has several washers and
dryers at reasonable cost. They can be used by people staying in the
campground, the motel rooms, townhouses, yurts, and log cabin at the resort,
as well as RVers across the street at the Air Force Campground. That usually
beats having to use private Laundromats.
Next entry: this afternoon's foray into town to see the
harbor and other areas
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil