Not your average travel blog
On the south coast, the port of Seward is small and mainly provides alighting for cruise ship passengers to be then transported over land to inland destinations such as Denali National Park. Tourists, it would seem, love a bus, yet I couldn’t think of a worse way to spend my time. The commercialisation around Seward harbour is a little drab. Gift shops lamely attempt to entice people in, selling the same bumf you see in every town and sadly, it’s main attraction seems to be an aquarium. The harbour isn’t exactly picturesque, and apart from the aforementioned fish tank, it looks to only consists of a few dull-faced restaurants along the “historical district” dockyard. It appears to cater for cruise shippers who might be desperate to stretch their legs on land, and even while I see a ship in the harbour, not many seem to even want to do that. I see Seward to be a giant, fairly run down gift shop, with a super-sized RV park at one end of the bay, turning an entire sea-fronting mile into a bus depot and a generator filled campground just a stones throw from the water.
We found nothing we wanted to stop for and on exploring the bay further there were only a few boating businesses alongside huge, gravel parking lots. The lots themselves were vacant and unused by any maritime service, but there was still a charge to camp there. In an area without any toilets but comfortably big enough for two hundred tents, someone thought they could make a quick buck from fisherman, as they were the only people loitering around on the beaches, hoping to catch something worthwhile. They should have built a pub instead.
Let’s not forget that recently, this entire area was effected and decimated by the tsunami that swept across the northern Pacific. All areas are now signposted with “tsunami route” or “storm evacuation roads” around the bay. It wouldn’t surprise me if much is still being recouped, but a lot of what we see now is the result of being in the way of nature’s wrath. The financial crash of 2008 also hit the country hard, and the haven of Alaska was no special case. Peoples lives have been dented in recent years and since I left New York, all across North America, it’s been common to see thousands of homes and businesses, big lots in big towns and struggling tiny restaurants in the middle of nowhere, I think reluctantly, up for sale. Life is tough wherever you go, but in rural Alaska, it doesn’t yet appear to be getting any easier.
We found a camp spot next to a substantial creek, barely a mile from the harbour, but soon found out we had accidentally pitched up on a man’s private land. Everywhere in Alaska, people have been extremely polite, and the friendly owner introduced himself after we’d already made ourselves at home next to his fishless river (because I didn’t even get a nibble). He asked us to leave it clean, take our trash with us and while moaning about his pestering wife and his fellow Alaskans having too much junk lying around, he requested that we didn’t upset his resident bears. Plural! His plot isn’t bigger than a football field or two, but it is appropriately named Bear Creek. Bathroom breaks are to be taken with caution, as he has seen a brown bear wondering around our site earlier today, and also a black bear with an injured cub. This isn’t the best of news, so as a nauseating deterrent to any species, we have tossed KP’s shoes outside, and we’ll sleep with the door closed.
Tomorrow we’ve decided to seek out better vistas of the area. Seeing a fairly unkept, struggling bay, some lacklustre attempts at commercial enticement, slow moving industry which smells (although not unpleasant) intensely of processed fish, and a huge, gravelly RV park along the promenade, it isn’t a place we are particularly eager to stay. We’ll drive up Glacier Road a few miles north, and hopefully set our sights on some rugged and colourful, giant ice cubes.