It’s spring break season for students of all ages—from little preschoolers to non-trad college students. For many, this means trips to warm southern climes: Mexico, Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, bikinis, tropical cocktails, suntans and sandy scalps. For others, it might be a good time to pick up extra shifts at work and make some spending money. Then, there are the folks who don’t have a designated spring break, because they work 9-5 jobs. We are a little bit of all of these. Evan works a “real” job, but his “weekend” is Tuesday and Wednesday. He’s also a student who happens to be on spring break. I have been nannying for a family who is also on spring break this week, so I have the week off. It turns out, Evan and I had our first two days off together since mid-January. We decided to celebrate with a spring break trip!
Since we are in Alaska, we could have picked nearly any destination and ended up south of home, and that’s exactly what we did. However, we didn’t pack any swimsuits (in fact, I brought my cozy flannel-lined Carhartts…a perfect Farmgirl gift!). We just got back from a quick trip south to Seward, Alaska. Seward is a lovely fishing town that sits on a magnificently picturesque bay surrounded by huge snow-covered peaks. The permanent population of about 3,000 grows immensely in the summer with waves of tourists. Because of this, much of the town shuts down during the winter months. However, some of the best places stay open—the Alaska SeaLife Center, a few restaurants, a few hotels and B&Bs, and-of course-the outdoor recreation opportunities.
We mainly went to visit our friends Eric and Christine who are in the thick of majorly loving their first son—an adorable, tiny, squishy one-month-old who will likely grow up to be a laid back, highly intelligent sailor like his very cool parents! Oh, the baby fever that takes over while snuggling a newborn…
It is so nice to have or make connections in places that we (the collective we, here!) visit. Locals know the best of the best and can point you in the right direction for must-see and must-visit opportunities. Christine was gracious enough to give us some free passes to the SeaLife Center, Eric serenaded us with his wonderful old-timey songs and both of them shared some of their favorite local hikes with us.
There is some merit in stumbling upon things on your own, too. On the drive down, we made a last minute pitstop at a roadside trailhead to get some long car ride jitters out. The signage promised a Fish and Game stocked lake at the end of the trail, but it didn’t indicate the length of the trail. We figured it couldn’t be too far if fisher people were going to hike in with their fishing gear. Maybe we went the wrong way or something, but we hiked up and up and up and up through hemlock forest, alder thickets and willow. Was this a summit lake? Are summit lakes that likely freeze out every year stocked with fish?
Suffice it to say (aside: interesting article on this phrase for grammar nerds here), we never saw Carter Lake. We did find amazing views and lots of good fetching sticks, though! It was nice to gain some altitude and get off the road for awhile. If any of you find yourself somewhere between the Sterling Highway and Moose Pass, AK and see a sign for Carter Lake Trail, give it a go. You might not see Carter Lake, but you are sure to have a lovely hike and some tired quads. Now, that I have internet access, I see that we had nearly made it to Carter Lake, which is 2.3 miles down the trail, about 1/3 mile further than we attempted. I also found that it is accessible by four wheeler during the summer months, which explains the fishing thing. Thank you, internet.
We then made our way to Seward and were rewarded with great friends, great food and great recreation.
We had the best poutine I’ve ever had (including a visit to Canada), yummy halibut cheeks, scallop and panchetta Macaroni and cheese and yummy Alaskan beers (it is Spring Break, after all!) at Chinook’s. The restaurant overlooks Resurrection Bay and we could see otters playing from our table! Unfortunately, my photographs didn’t turn out.
Our trip to the SeaLife Center was as fun, educational and inspiring as expected. We thought Ava would love to see all of the Alaskan sea life up close and personal. She liked the critters pretty well, but she LOVED all of the other kids that were there. She also spent about a quarter of her time on a giant scale that fits multiple people until it reaches 1,700 pounds–the weight of Woody, the Stellar Sea Lion. It would take many Ava’s to make a Woody!
We stayed at the historic Hotel Seward because it allows dogs. Maybe a lot of hotels do this, but it seemed like a good perk to me. The lobby of this place seems like Alaska interpreted by Wes Anderson. It is packed full of taxidermied animals. They were all very festive with leprechaun hats and green shamrocks. We ate breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. There was no one else there and a sign on the bar said, “Please Ring Bell/ This will be like home/ Your waiter and chef will be the same person.” Traveling in off seasons brings its welcome quirks. The host/waiter/chef was a very nice man who offered to cut up Ava’s food into baby sized pieces, brought us complimentary fresh fruit and brought out a delicious strawberry filled crepe for us to “test” for an upcoming event. Yum. What a treat!
After another visit with our friends, we finished our trip with an energizing hike from Lowell beach to Tonsina point via a trail that ascends and descends through temperate rain forest. The towering hemlocks were thick and soft with vibrant green mosses. Flowing streams reminded us that spring is coming despite chilly temperatures, and, once again, there were many suitable fetching sticks for Moki. We spent our time appreciating and photographing the various micro- and macro-beauty of the trail.
All in all, we had a great little trip that satiated many hungers–creative, intellectual, physical, and athletic. Who could ask for anything more from a spring break?!
Have you been on or do you plan on going on any quick trips near home this spring? Tell us about your “spring break”!
Until next time,
Sending you peace and love from Alaska,
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl