Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alaska Trip Day 9B: Seward, Alaska

This is the second post about Alaska Trip Day 9; go here for the first. Also...
- Set #2 of Amber photos, covering Dawson Creek (Day 5 morning) through the Alaska/Yukon border (Day 8 morning), has been posted here. Set #1 is here; set #3 is coming soon. (Once I finish the Alaska Trip recaps, I'll put all photo album links in one convenient list.)
- And, I've finally finished updating all of my silly By the Numbers stats.

Seward, Alaska (pronounced SOO-erd) was one of only two locations throughout the trip where we spent more than one night. We spent a lot more time here than we did most places we went, and that gave us time to do some really exciting things in Seward. For example...laundry!

Seward has exactly one laundromat, and there it is. If I were the owners, I'd change the name from "Suds 'n Swirl" to "Seward's Only Laundromat", just make it easier on the tourists.

Okay, okay...laundry is boring. What else is there in Seward?

Seward has what I would consider to be a "cute little downtown". Amber bought some souvenirs for other people and the obligatory Alaska sweatshirt*; I bought some fancy waterproof pants for our sea kayaking the next day, since I thought it would be a little cold for a bathing suit. I guess now you can call me Mr. Fancy Pants.

(* - I forget if I've mentioned this already, but I think it's extremely lame to wear an Alaska t-shirt or sweatshirt while you're on vacation in Alaska. Rest assured, Amber did not actually wear the Alaska sweatshirt during the vacation.)

I know the sign looks funny, but earthquake-spawned tsunamis are serious business here, in addition to the earthquakes themselves. The 1964 Alaska earthquake was a bit of an inconvenience for Alaskans, causing widespread damage throughout southern Alaska, and forcing the residents of Valdez to move the entire town four miles north because of the damage. (And when I say "move", of course I mean "rebuild". I'm assuming it wasn't like that episode of The Simpsons.)

We didn't feel any earthquakes in Alaska when we were there, but apparently there was a 4.7 quake in Southern Alaska the following week that was felt in Anchorage and surrounding cities. Darn - missed it! I think it would be fun to experience a minor earthquake. How would I react if the earth started shaking? I would probably crap my pants.

Seward's hometown hero is someone named "Benny Benson", who 84 years ago designed the Alaska State Flag at the age of 13. Seward is a fairly small town (population 3,000), so the fact that they have anyone at all that did something notable...well, that's cause for celebration!

Seward is also famous for the annual Mount Marathon Race, which takes place every July 4th up and down a nearby mountain. This is just the kind of silly race that Amber would be tempted to enter, so perhaps it's a good thing we didn't know about it beforehand.

We were in Seward from July 1st through July 3rd, so we missed the race. Even so, we were told that the crowd in Seward that whole weekend was much larger than it is on a typical summer weekend, and that when we were there, it was already "starting to get crazy" (direct quote from a local). But really, if nobody had told us, we would have never known, because at no time during our visit did the crowd in Seward ever seem large. It just seemed like a normal weekend crowd in a small town. We never had trouble finding a parking spot, and there was never a wait at any of the restaurants or bars. (Then again, we're not exactly the "late crowd"; we were back in our hotel room and in bed by 9.) But even with the race taking place that weekend, Seward was still about 20 times less crowded than, say, State College on any football game weekend, or pretty much any summer day in Skagway. If this is what Seward residents consider to be "crazy", then Seward sounds like a really nice place to live! Except for the tsunamis.

This was the most classy of Seward's bars, so we went there Friday "night" and had a couple of drinks. I put "night" in quotes because, of course, it was still light out. (By the way, if you want an Alaskan Amber in Alaska and you don't want to sound like a dumb tourist, all you need to say is "I'll have an Amber". They'll know what you mean. Kind of like "I'll have a Lager" in Pennsylvania.)

Finally, here's something I was wondering about these 20-hour days. Sunset isn't until after 11 PM, so when the heck do they have Fourth of July fireworks here? Or do they even do them at all? The answer: Seward's Fourth of July fireworks are at midnight. Duh, Chris - I mean, they do everything at midnight up here.

So, I really dig Seward. I'm glad we went.

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