August 30, 2014
It was time to return our van to Anchorage so we got up early in Ninilchik to another glorious sunny day. A quick breakfast and we were on our way. The advantage of an early morning drive is the possibility of seeing a moose along the road and hopefully not in the road as they are considerably larger than their cousins the deer. Sure enough, mama moose was peacefully grazing as we screeched to a halt. In disgust she left our side of the road and meandered to the other side. She allowed us to take the pictures we wanted before trundling off.
The rest of the two and a half hour drive to Seward was uneventful and we even found a campground with restrooms after failing to find an open establishment in Moose Pass. Since this is Labor Day weekend and winter comes in a hurry, the roads were full of boats and campers headed out for the last fall adventure. Traffic was light in our our direction going north on the Kenai Peninsula. We reached Seward and emptied the van by 9:30. I said goodbye for my solo voyage to Anchorage to return the van.
My 2 hour plus drive to Anchorage was easy as the roads were dry and I was driving against the flow. The sun was out, but I didn’t bother with pictures as I knew plenty would be taken that day by the rest. I was picked up at the airport and returned to the bus station to wait for the 2 o’clock departure. Bus stations are always interesting. The gal handling phone reservations had an extremely heavy Eastern European accent that I found a challenge to understand. It had to be the same for the people on the other end of the phone line. My driver was an old Sourdough with an uncanny physical resemblance to Yosemite Sam. The young German couple asked me if he was a cowboy because of the bowed legs. I told them that he got those legs riding caribou. I think they believed me. Driver Sam picked up a hitchhiker carrying a violin case. I don’t know if the bus line thought that was a good thing but then we are in Alaska. The musician was hitching to a gig in Seward. He and Sam compared notes on musicians. I just listened and was relieved to find out the Germans were using a guide to kayak in Prince William Sound as they had never kayaked before.
I got back to Seward at 4:30 and was just in time to greet the rest of the crew who had a different experience. They had boarded a wildlife cruise around Resurrection Bay and the Kenai Fjords National Park. The pictures tell their story. Let it be said that they saw different wildlife than I saw. At one time they were surrounded by a pod of humpback whales that were breaching and blowing as whales do that sort of thing. But more important than whales were the puffins!
Bobbie has had a thing about puffins for a long time. When she was selling World Book Encyclopedias, her favorite picture was that of the puffin. She has a framed puffin picture in her office. She had never seen a live one until today. The little birds surrounded the tour boat. They can best be described as flying potatoes with their stubby bodies and compact wings. Bobbie was delighted even though they were pretty fast to see many details. They saw sea lions, harbor seals and otters to round out the day. They did not see any Orcas even though there is a resident pod in the bay.
We enjoyed a comfortable dinner in the hotel and prepared ourselves for boarding the ship tomorrow.