Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

We had arrived in Seward Alaska on a grey and misty morning at the end of our week-long cruise from Vancouver (see here)

Our train up to Anchorage was not due to board till early evening so, having secured our luggage at the station, we headed into town to see what was on offer.

Seward is a port city in southern Alaska, set in an inlet on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai Fjords National Park is situated to the west of the town, though unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to explore it. It sounds as spectacular as the Glacier Bay National Park we had visited on our cruise a couple of days earlier (see here). The national park is a place where glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield into coastal fjords surrounded by mountains and pristine wilderness.

There were similarities to the south-east peninsula of Alaska where we had spent the past week. Misty grey skies and pretty wooden buildings, including a couple of churches, were reminiscent of Scotland or Scandinavia. The shops were just opening up. Predictably there were quite a few souvenir places designed to attract the tourists coming off the boats and train but also authentic looking bars and eateries too. It was a quaint mixture but you did have a feeling you were in a very remote part of the world.

We had seen the Alaska SeaLife Centre advertised and since it was on the far edge of town decided to head there first to avoid disappointment in case we ran out of time later on. We spent the next couple of hours or so there and it was a memorable experience. We learnt so much about the local wildlife and the delicate ecosystem in Alaska during our visit. Whales and porpoises live in the waters of the fjords and the SeaLife Centre rehabilitates many injured and ill animals, especially seals and puffins.

We loved the interactive displays and the chance to see cute animals, such as the sea otters, on the road to recovery. Some of the photos are a little blurry, which makes the antics of the seals a little hard to see, but hopefully the photos create an impression of what our experience was like. The puffins were a particular favourite of mine too.

Unfortunately with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic and the ceasing of cruises up to Alaska, the SeaLife Centre ran into severe financial difficulties and was facing permanent closure. A major fundraising campaign has meant it has been able to stay open during the northern winter (see here for an article I found in the Anchorage Daily News). However there are still concerns over its viability going forward in the summer unless tourism can resume.

By the time we had finished our tour round the SeaLife Centre it was nearly lunchtime and we rejoined our friends in the Seward Brewing Company for a hearty Alaskan meal. Salmon featured heavily on the menu! It happens to be one of my favourite foods and was simply delicious. Since it was pouring with rain we were somewhat restricted in the activities we could do – really staying indoors was the best option. Having made our way back into the town centre, courtesy of a lift from some locals, we ended up at one of the bars along the main street. We enjoyed a late afternoon aperitif (if that’s the right word?) before heading back to the harbour to retrieve our luggage and check in for our train journey up to Anchorage, which I’ll cover in the next post.

I had intended to publish this post last Sunday but hadn’t quite finished it before we headed out to our elder granddaughter’s birthday party at lunchtime. Whilst there we got the news that Perth and the South West of Western Australia were going into a snap hard lockdown at 6pm that evening for 5 days. A security guard in one of our quarantine hotels had tested positive to Covid (the new more infectious UK strain) and had been out and about in the community for several days. Hence we had to run round and get a few supplies after the party and I delayed finishing my post.

We have been so lucky here and have been able to lead a relatively normal life for the past few months so it came as quite a shock. Fortunately all close and casual contacts have been quickly identified and isolated. To date no further cases have emerged despite extensive testing. We have come out of lockdown this evening though some restrictions are in place in Perth for another week or so, such as mandatory mask wearing when we are out in public (both indoors and outdoors). We also have reduced capacities at venues such as cafes and restaurants and must check in using a QR code wherever we go. We do appreciate how lucky we’ve been and can really empathise with people facing extended lockdowns, which must be so hard. Take care everyone and stay safe X

Copyright © 2021 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

10 thoughts on “Exploring the Alaska SeaLife Centre in Seward

  1. The weather was exactly like that when we visited Seward. And we stayed in a cabin which leaked! I did think about you when I heard about that case. We’re still restricted pretty much to Glasgow and getting very fed up! But vaccines are on their way. My mum had her first one a couple of weeks ago and a few friends who are over 65 are now getting appointments, so we can’t be too far off. There is hope!

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    1. Oh dear that would not have been too pleasant Anabel – we were in Seward in August and it very cold as you can see from our attire! A leaking cabin would not have been much fun 😦 So glad we were able to go there though – it was special at the time but now in view of the obstacles to travel seems extra special. Yes our lockdown has really been (as it’s turned out so far) precautionary but the whole point is the authorities don’t want to end up like other parts of the world such as (alas) the Uk and Europe. The infected security guard had been working in one of our quarantine hotels and has the UK mutant strain, plus had been out in the community for several days whilst infectious so no one was taking any chances. All his close contacts and casual contacts are now either in hotel quarantine themselves or self isolating at home. So far, fingers crossed, no more positives despite multiple testings. We have a week to go before the additional restrictions can be lifted such as mandatory mask wearing when we leave the house including for exercise (unless it’s vigorous and outdoors!) but we are out of the lockdown. My dad and aunt (both in their later 80s) have both had their first vaccines albeit different ones. My dad, who lives independently, has had the Pfizer one and my aunt who lives in a nursing home has had the Oxford Astrazeneca one. Hope this will be the road map out of the current situation. Vaccination programme is starting here in a couple of weeks time – the Pfizer jab will be given to all front line workers at airports, quarantine hotels, port workers, maritime workers transporting freight, air crew etc. So effectively anyone who is involved with our borders to provide an additional line of defence. Then they’ll move on to the community – aged care workers, medical staff, vulnerable people etc. The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine likely to be offered to the majority of the population but it has yet to receive approval here! Hope life will start to get back to “normal” for you before too long – in the meantime stay safe and take care X

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      1. It was September when we went and the snow had started before we left. I’d love to visit Alaska again and see it at our own pace. We made the mistake of going with a group which we thought would take us to more out of the way places that we might not get to otherwise. I think because it was the end of the season they kept modifying the itinerary and we ended up in leaky huts in towns instead of remote campsites. I hope your restrictions can be lifted as planned. I wish our government had been as sensible. Mum had the Astra Zeneca jag at home, presumably because it’s easier to transport. The mass vaccination centres are using Pfizer which needs to be kept so far below freezing. Can’t wait for my turn!

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        1. Once we got to Seward we were independent of any tour group. We did an organised tour into Denali National Park, which seemed the only way to do it. Having said that we weren’t really going off the beaten track – I wouldn’t venture too far into the wilderness by myself! We stayed in some lovely wooden cabins south of Denali and hotels in Anchorage and Fairbanks – no leaking roofs fortunately. We still have restrictions but our lockdown is lifted. There are stricter capacity limits at venues such as cafes and restaurants and on social gatherings. We have to wear masks at all times once we leave the house unless doing vigorous exercise! Do hope the case numbers start to fall for you soon!

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  2. restlessjo says:

    It must seem strange to be writing about Alaska, from an entirely different time and place right now, Rosemay. The contrast seems more marked somehow. I hope for the sealife centre that they can continue the good work. The virus has decimated tourism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you’re right it certainly has an extra dimension to it Jo – sort of looking at a past life really though hopefully not a lost world. For various reasons we did extra travelling around that time. First my mum passed away in October 2017 so I went back to the Uk and also spent time with Mlle who was still living in London. We’d also been to the Uk and Switzerland earlier that year. Then we did 2 trips to the UK and Hong Kong in March 2018 and Canada, Alaska and Seattle in August 2018. Monsieur had a career change and we had a few months gap before he got really busy again! So glad we took this opportunity to travel as not sure how things will look for the next few years. Our last trip abroad was in April 2019 when we did our (then) annual trip to the Uk to see our families and went to the Rhineland in Germany. At least this extended travel break has finally got me almost up to date with writing up our travels!! I enjoy watching travel documentaries and vlogs on tv too as it is a way to appreciate other places now we are restricted to home. The Alaska SeaLife Centre does such amazing work – so important these places can survive.

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  3. Gilda Baxter says:

    Rosemay, I have enjoyed this blog post and all the lovely photos. Looks like you got quite a bit of rain and cold weather…but hey that’s Alaska. I hope to visit one day in the future, meanwhile, it is good to see it vicariously.
    I do hope that the wild-life center will be ok and they will thrive again in the future. So many of our wildlife centers and zoos here in the UK are also in trouble. Hard times for everyone. I am glad your lockdown has not been for too long, here it has been long and no date for it to open up yet. Fingers crossed the vaccine will make a big difference.

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    1. Thanks so much Gilda – yes at the moment we’re all having to travel vicariously! Also reminiscing about past travels and being thankful for the opportunities we used to have. Yes the weather can be very wet and cold in Alaska and that’s in the summer months but we did have some beautiful days too. You definitely don’t go expecting great weather! Really hope the SeaLife Centre survives and also the wildlife centres and zoos affected in so many parts of the world by the pandemic. Let’s hope as you say the vaccine will make a big difference and hopefully the pandemic will start to wane like the Spanish Flu did a century ago. It must be so tough to have been in lockdown for so long, take care and I do hope that things improve over there for you soon X

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