Resurrection Bay, Alaska

Seward, a town of wood frame buildings and native iconography, is surrounded by tall, ice-capped mountains. The town is built on the fan delta and alluvium of the glacially-fed Resurrection River.

An ice-free port, Seward distributes freight and tourists into the taiga forests, townships, and wild interior via the Alaskan Railway. In 1964, a 9.3 Richter-scale earthquake slid the entire Port of Seward, and part of the town, into the depths of Resurrection Bay.

We traveled east on the Sterling Highway from the lowland marshes and braided rivers of the western Kenai Peninsula, across the north-south trending Border Ranges Fault, and into the Kenai Mountains. A fork in the road sent you north to Anchorage or east to Seward.

After arriving in Seward, we walked the marina docks. Rugged Alaskan vessels filled the slips. Julia, compelled to get onto the waters of Resurrection Bay, led us into a charter office. As someone who spent most waking hours running a charter boat, I had little interest in climbing aboard such a vessel while on vacation. Julia persisted. I relented.

An hour later, we boarded the 100′ aluminum head boat along with 40-odd other passengers and soon got underway. Two Bald Eagles sat on a day marker as we exited the marina. Despite being August, frigid air kept us in coats. We positioned ourselves on the bow. I prepared my ears for a megaphoned barrage of mundane facts.

Twin diesels droned as we made good speed down Resurrection bay toward the Gulf of Alaska. The captain slowed as we approached a sheer cliff. On the rocks, just yards away, several Stellar Sea lions lounged. Within the crevices of the cliff, the megaphone voice pointed out several penguin-like Murrs. Up the cliff, a white mountain goat peered down on us.

As we motored from one point of interest to the next, the megaphone voice filled the time with interesting natural and historical facts of the area. On the bridge with microphone in hand stood our captain, a Richard Dreyfuss look-alike, akin to marine biologist Matt Hooper of Jaws.

Into the second half of the trip, a humpback whale surfaced 50 yards from the boat. Our captain cut the propulsion. We watched the whale surface two more times before it dove, tail up, and disappeared into the depths.

The resurrection bay boat trip became a highlight of our Alaska visit. Julia knew not to let my reluctance spoil the opportunity. This dreaded boat trip had turned spectacular.