Thursday, August 30, 2018

Down Memory Lane Part 2

We returned to Seward for the Fourth of July, where the town of just under 2,800 explodes to approximately 40,000 as people from around the world swarm to the scenic town for food, fun, fireworks, a parade, and the annual Mount Marathon Race. Downtown streets are blocked off for a fair with a wide variety of food concessions and souvenir stands.

Street fair in Seward on the Fourth of July with Mt. Marathon rising above it
We looked for familiar faces of friends we knew would be there, but in that crowd connecting was impossible. Parking lots and RV parks were packed. Fortunately, my classmates we had visited a few days before had invited us to make their home our base for the day and had reserved a place for us to park in front of their house just three blocks down from the main street.

The main event of the day is the Mount Marathon Race, among the oldest mountain footraces. According to folklore, the tradition began in Seward's early days when two sourdoughs (Alaskan old timers) argued about the possibility of climbing and descending the mountain in less than an hour--a mile and a half up and a mile and a half down a trail complete with cliffs, loose shale, waterfalls, sometimes snowfields.

The famous as well as amateur racers climb up the nearly vertical face of 3,000-foot Mount Marathon (the trail is visible from town).The Junior Race began at 9:00 a.m. from the center of town to the halfway point on the mountainside and back. At 11:00 a.m.,  the Men's Race began with a maximum of three hundred competing. The women's race was at 2: p.m. following a short parade at 1:00 p.m.

The winning time for the men's race from the center of town to the top of the 3,000-foot mountain and back this year was 42 minutes and 13 seconds; for the women's race, 51 minutes and 30 seconds.

In my youth when I lived in Seward, I climbed that mountain several times, but it took me much more than an hour! The spectacular view from the top more than made up for the painful muscles I suffered afterwards.

Leading off with a military color guard, the parade featured the Seward police and fire departments, political floats, scouts, and various civic groups. Here are some shots of the parade:
The fire truck lining up with Mt. Marathon rising above.

Waiting for the women racers to come in.
I loved the flag hanging from the hook and ladder truck over the
church steeple with the mountains as a backdrop.

We left late afternoon to drive back to Anchorage. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the Fourth of July in Seward, Alaska. Next week I'll continue my travelogue--our trip to Fairbanks up the Parks Highway.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

A trip Down Memory Lane

This summer, my husband and I took a trip down memory lane. For our 51st wedding anniversary, we flew from Newark to Anchorage, Alaska, on June 26, on Alaska Airlines, rented a car, and drove to all the places we lived as young people. Since I write books about Alaska of yesteryear, I thought you might enjoy a glimpse of Alaska today.

Changing planes in Seattle

Fun with friends at the Sea Galley in Anchorage
Our first stop was Seward, 126 miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula, where I went to high school. Seward Highway, one of the most scenic roads in the country, curves along Turnagain Arm, known for it bore tides, surrounded by the rugged Chugach Mountains. Driving below cliffs that rise to the sky, we spotted a Dall sheep just above the roadway--a frisky lamb with no mama in sight.

 At the famed ski resort, Alyeska, we stopped for a breakfast of sourdough hotcakes. Yum! Then we took a short detour into Portage Glacier. When I lived in Alaska, we could see the glacier drop its icebergs into the lake, but it has retreated out of sight now. After visiting the museum, where we watched a wide-screen movie of the geological history of the area, we continued up through the mountains passes toward Seward.

 Seward Highway
Memories of the many times I had ridden over that same road with my family flooded my mind--the time we almost slid off a 30-foot drop into a lake in an ice storm, camping with friends in the pass, joyriding with friends to Moose Pass, and the many wildlife sightings.

Our hotel room in Seward overlooked beautiful Resurrection Bay, but clouds obscured the mountaintops. In spite of that, we drove around to see all the changes. There are many. The house I lived in is gone. The school I attended is relocated. The town has doubled in size. But I enjoyed reconnecting with two of my classmates in their home overlooking the bay. We all enjoyed a wonderful meal at Exit Glacier Salmon Bake.

Standing next to a 353-year-old spruce tree trunk slice displayed in the Seward Museum
The next day, the clouds lifted a little, and we enjoyed lunch of fresh halibut at a cafe overlooking the small boat harbor, where several sea otter were frolicking among the boats.

From the Restaurant Overlooking the Seward Boat Harbor
Saturday afternoon, we drove over to Kenai (106 miles) along the Kenai River famous for its salmon fishing. The next morning the sky was blue and the sun was shining. We attended church. The pastor is the son of our former pastor in Fairbanks 51 years ago when we got married. That afternoon, we visited friends I have known from my grade school years living in Juneau. Monday morning, we visited a college classmate who had photographed our wedding.

In coastal Alaska, you take advantage of every sunny day. The road back to Anchorage, where we  had reservations in a hotel for the week, connects with the Seward Highway just 32 miles north of Seward, so we drove back to Seward to see the mountaintops. Funny thing, though! The sky was blue except for a fog bank that swirled across the mouth of Resurrection Bay where it opens onto the Gulf of Alaska.

Back in Anchorage, the thermometer registered around 90 degrees all week (the first week of July)!

I hope you enjoy our photos. To be continued next week.