This morning we woke up to a few patches of blue in the sky – that’s
always a good sign!
We're a bit tired of clouds and rain. We did have more sunshine
throughout the day but there were still more clouds than blue sky. Temps
remained in the 50s F. with a little breeze. Not exactly "summery" but
it’s the best weather we’ve had in Seward since we got here on Thursday.
Sailboats and a motorboat in Resurrection Bay
We're doing well with
our informal "List of Things to Do and See in Seward."
We checked off all but three of the remaining activities today --
the marine cruise, which we’re doing tomorrow, the SeaLife Center on
Tuesday, and the hiker’s trail on Mt. Marathon if the trails are open.
Michael LeMaitre still hasn’t been found but since the large search for
him is over, the non-race trails on the east side of Mt. Marathon may be open
before we leave on Wednesday.
in the Kenai Range tower over Seward to the west. This view is from Nash
across the bay. I think Mt. Marathon, site of the
(in)famous July 4 foot race, is in the center.
This entry includes photos and information about an interesting salmon
weir we visited just outside of town, views of Seward from the other
side of Resurrection Bay, the hike we took at Two Lakes
Park, and miscellaneous scenes from the harbor, downtown, and
I'll focus on the colorful murals that chronicle various parts of
Seward's history in the next entry.
VISITING A WORKING SALMON WEIR
This morning we took a drive to the salmon weir on Bear Lake Road a few
miles north of town.
One college student was tending the weir. Jim and I watched a couple
salmon try to get past some metal bars in the creek. We were curious how
they get upstream past the obstacles.
Four women arrived in a car; they were curious, too.
I walked over to the young man, who was doing something on a computer,
and asked him if he could come over for a few minutes to
tell all of us what occurs at the weir. He agreed to do so somewhat
reluctantly but he patiently answered all of our questions.
Jim's in the red jacket, looking into a large tank
with salmon. The weir attendant is on the right.
He was a little more talkative with Jim and me after the women left. We
thanked him for taking the time to talk with us. He grew up near here
and is a fisheries student at a college in Juneau.
This is what I
remember from all the information he gave us.
The weir catches all the red salmon that are swimming upstream to their
spawning grounds at nearby Bear Lake in late spring/early summer (and
silver salmon in late summer/early fall). It is operated by the Cook Inlet
Aquaculture Assoc. and monitored by the state.
This year 6,000 male red salmon were allowed to pass through the weir to
The rest of the males that are coming through now are sorted out from
the females and placed in yellow tubs like the one below:
They are taken to Seward Fisheries (AKA “Icicles”) for processing.
Six thousand females will also be allowed to pass through the weir to
spawn. Another 400 females still need to go through. After those females
are allowed upstream, the remaining will go to be processed.
There is a sort of fungus that is killing some of the baby salmon when
they hatch. I think the attendant said all 12,000 salmon that are
allowed upstream to spawn are being tagged with the little yellow
markers you can see in this photo of three of the fish swimming in a
large tank at the weir:
There’s also a problem with a “slime coat” that is killing some of the
salmon that come through the weir. There were two salmon floating belly
up that aren’t quite dead yet. I don't know if the two problems are
I was amused to see
this cute toy fishing boat floating in the large tank with the fish that are
tagged and on their way upstream. It's about 15" long:
After we left the weir we went across the road to a shady day use area
next to Bear Creek. That’s one place visitors can watch bears catch the
salmon as they’re swimming upstream.
We were there only a few minutes and didn’t see any bears or
Nearby Bear Creek RV Park uses this feature in their advertising.
Campers can walk over to the creek to watch bears fishing when the
salmon are running.
SPEAKING OF SALMON . . .
evening I took Cody for a walk
around the Seward Military Resort campground and watched some guys in the “fish house” fillet
the salmon they had caught:
One man was very adept at it, and he’s apparently a
good fisherman, too – he caught his limit of salmon today:
He said he’ll be smoking them so they’ll keep better during the winter
than just freezing them. They’re easier to store that way, too.
This is a weight
scale outside the fish-cleaning building where anglers can hang their
fish and take a picture to show friends back home:
Photo-op for bragging rights
Since we don't fish
we bought some fresh sockeye salmon fillets at Safeway today and froze them.
They were about half the price there ($9.99/pound) as they were at a
seafood shop on the harbor boardwalk ($18.95/pound) and looked just as
printed out a couple salmon recipes we found online that sound tasty and
we'll try them soon. One is a marinade with pure maple syrup in it --
yum! That should be good either baked or grilled.
SEWARD FROM ACROSS THE BAY
After we visited the
Bear Lake fish weir and salmon-viewing area this morning we
drove out about three miles on Nash Road on the east side of
Resurrection Bay to look at Seward from that perspective:
There are several scenic overlooks along Nash Road where you can stop to
take in the views and/or enjoy a picnic.
The sun shining on the mountain snow was very pretty. I took photos and
we used our binoculars to look at buildings in town, RVs along the
shoreline, and boats in the harbor:
We could see another humongous cruise ship in the north end of the harbor:
One of the city campgrounds, Spring Creek, is located about five miles
out this road. It is fairly remote and has no hookups but the views
can't be beat.
We could also see south of Seward to Lowell Point State Rec. Area and Caines Head State
Lowell Point is a day-use area. Two trails start from there. One goes to Caines Head, which has an abandoned fort that was a sentry for
Resurrection Bay during WWII. A woman at the visitor center told us that
the lower trail is currently impassable because of snowmelt.
I doubt we'll go down the narrow, rutted, gravel road to see the view
from Lowell Point on
this trip. It's apparently a mess, too. Maybe next time . . .
SOME INTERESTING SCENES AROUND TOWN
After lunch we went out for a bike ride through town.
I stopped to take more pictures of murals, old buildings, interesting houses
and yards, and other things that caught my eye.
One of my goals was to find several more points of interest described in
the Chamber of Commerce's walking map and a separate leaflet about fun
things to do and see in Seward. By now I've found or done about half of
If you're driving, riding, or walking along 4th Ave. it's hard to miss
the "Buoy Tree" in a residential yard -- as well as all
the, um, collectibles in the front yard that I edited out of the
photo! The Chamber of Commerce walking brochure
describes it as "a whimsical commentary on Seward's marine roots:"
I love historical
architecture so one of the streets I headed for was 3rd Ave. One of the
blocks has several homes built before 1910 for prominent early citizens
of the town. The houses were apparently so elegant compared to others in
Seward that the block was called "Millionaire's Row," although they
aren't nearly as large or pretentious as many homes of the same era in
the Lower 48.
One of those
homes is the Ballaine House, built in 1905 by Frank Ballaine:
According to the walking map/brochure, Frank and his brother John led
the landing party of Seward's first settlers in 1903. Their goal was to
build a railroad to the Yukon River. John founded Seward and chose the
name to honor William H. Seward, who negotiated the purchase of the
Territory of Alaska from Russia in 1867. The home is still privately
owned and not open for tours, although the sign advertises "lodging."
Two other historic homes on this block were owned by the railroad's
construction engineer (the Cameron House) and the railroad's treasurer
(the Stewart House).
This former Lutheran Church built in 1916 caught my eye because it is
now a coffee house with an art gallery:
Several older buildings in Seward have been "re-purposed" like that,
rather than building new. Good concept.
I parked my bike and walked through the historic
downtown shopping district above the SeaLife Center for a few
minutes. I'm not much into shopping but I did go inside a couple of the
businesses to look at their historical artifacts:
I went inside the old Brown & Hawkins store to see its early 1900s bank vault
and other antique furnishings and equipment:
Built in 1907, Brown & Hawkins is
reportedly the state's oldest
family-owned retail business. The store has an old-fashioned soda
fountain and makes various types of gourmet candy. It also sells general
merchandise, sports clothing and gear, Alaskan-made gifts, and
A nearby building houses Urbach's
Clothiers, which has been in business since 1915. It also maintains
historical artifacts in addition to its wares.
We rode up and down several streets and along the harbor twice:
Still lots of clouds to the south but these RVers
are enjoying the bay anyway.
It was more sunny to the north and west of the bay;
that's the cruise ship in the distance.
The "Train Wreck" is located between the cruise ship terminal and the
small boat harbor. The Wreck is a collection of refurbished railcars
from the Alaska Railroad that now house several private businesses,
including this bike shop:
While we were in the
harbor area we
verified that Kenai Fjords Tour Co. has our cruise reservation for
tomorrow and plans to
pick us up in a shuttle bus at the military resort. We bought our
tickets at the resort, not directly from the tour company, so we could
get a better discount.
We also watched two
videos at the Kenai Fjords National Park visitor center and saw parts of two other
films there. They have a continuous two-hour loop with about eight
different videos -- good free entertainment.
TWO LAKES PARK
After supper we drove a couple miles to Two Lakes Park, which lies between the
lagoon/main drag through town and the base of Mt. Marathon.
This is one
of the lakes:
The lakes are fairly
small. They are separated by wetlands that aren't currently very wet,
despite all the recent rain and snowmelt.
The rustic trail doesn’t go close to either lake for very long. It
mostly winds through the forest. The one-mile
loop was much hillier and more rooty than we expected, but dry.
This city park is full of spruce, hemlock, black cottonwood, and sitka
alder trees, as well as moss, ferns, devil's club, and other rainforest under-story
Signs warn visitors about moose and bears in the park but we didn't see
any big critters.
Continued in the next entry: photos of more than a dozen
colorful murals about town
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil