Thursday, September 09, 2010

Alaska: Day 7 (Seward to Anchorage)

On our last day, we decided to bypass the hotel breakfast and eat at the Smoke Shack, a restaurant located inside of a train car next to our hotel:

It had been highly recommended by one of our fellow Denali bus passengers, who lived in Seward, and indeed I was quite happy with my frittata, home fries, and toast.

After eating and checking out, we drove across town to the coastline to try to get a better otter photo. We did see several otters, but as far as photos, this is about as good as I got:

We also drove to "downtown Seward" to take a look. It ended up being about three, maybe four blocks long. Nevertheless, we stopped in a few shops, including Sweet Darlings, where we tried some gelato and bought some surprisingly good ginger saltwater taffy.

It was only a two-hour drive back to Anchorage, so we again stopped to look for Dall sheep and beluga whales. This time we were not so lucky with the sheep, but we hit jackpot with the whales. We had to cross a railroad track to get to a good viewing spot, but it was well worth it.

We were there for about half an hour and we must have seen about ten belugas, five of which were in the area at the same time. Here are two of the better photos:

We spent the rest of the day souvenir shopping in Anchorage. Our first stop was at Costco, where we bought a ridiculous amount of Copper River smoked sockeye salmon. We then stopped across the street at the Copper River Seafoods store itself. It seemed like they weren't getting a lot of traffic anymore, as there was only one guy (who looked about twenty) manning both the storefront and the warehouse. Nevertheless, he was super nice to us, possibly because we were extremely clueless and kept buying stuff from him.

In the end we bought seasoned king salmon chunks, salmon spread, and more smoked sockeye salmon (in non-Costco quantities, for gifts). The guy vacuum-packed and wrapped everything in butcher paper for us so it wouldn't leak, and then threw in a free container of salmon spread "for the road". I would have been much happier about this if I liked smoked salmon at all.

After that we went to the touristy areas and tried to find souvenirs there. We did buy a few things but soon got tired of shopping and went to Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse for an early dinner. I polished off an entire plate of steamer clams, while other people ate more fish. We hung out there for awhile since our flight wasn't until midnight and the place had a fun atmosphere. There was one funny incident when my friend asked the guy in the next booth about his beer. She was really just interested in his opinion on the beer (a very dark ale that she was afraid would be too filling) but I think his wife was not amused. She certainly gave us an unfriendly look.

The rental car return and airport check-in went smoothly, we managed to pack all of our newly acquired items into our already-full bags, and we were soon on our way back to San Francisco. The week had been really fun and eventful, but also quite tiring, so I think by that time we were all happy to head home.

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