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Seward Highway

The Seward highway starts in Anchorage and winds its way for 127 miles along Turnagain Arm, where it parallels the Alaska railroad, and through Kenai Peninsula to Seward, a port in Resurrection Bay. Like most highways in Alaska, this is an extremely scenic road, though the traffic is quite a bit heavier than in most other places in Alaska.

Up until our arrival to Kenai Peninsula, the weather we had encountered during our trip was mostly not too bad if not even good. That was all about to change. Camping in a forest service campground near the Portage Glacier, we woke up to grey skies, and the rain would not be very far behind. We decided to visit Homer, a nice town at Kenai Peninsula's south east corner. Next day, we visited Seward, and due to a thick downpour ended up spending the afternoon and the night in nice cabins just outside of the town. It would still be drizzling much of the next day, but Alaska Sealife Center provided good indoor entertainment.

The weather put a damper on our hike to the Harding ice field the day after that as the drizzle changed to rain again. In thick rain we drove through Whittier. Whittier was built by the US military during World War II to provide a secret port alternative to Anchorage. It is renowned for bad weather, and it made its reputation proud that day. It is now possibly to drive to Whittier through a tunnel that was originally made solely for the Alaska railroad, and the drive through the single lane tunnel is an experience in itself. Back on the side closer to Anchorage, the Portage Glacier is a big tourist attraction. The town of Portage was destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1964. The so-called Good Friday Earhtquake, at 9.2 on the Richter scale the strongest ever recorded in the US, produced a huge tidal wave destroying much of Valdez, landslides in Anchorage, and raised or lowered the shoreline by anywhere betwen 6 and 30 feet in Homer, Cordova and Kodiak.

Later in the afternoon, we watched a tidal bore. Turnagain Arm is one of a few places where this tidal wave occurs regularly, thanks to its shallow water and high tides in the Cook Inlet area, that reach up to 40 feet. The bore was supposed to be quite high that day, about 5 to 6 feet, due to the right constellation of the moon and the sun, but ended up being only slightly above average, probably because there was too much runoff from the recent rains impeding the development of a high wave front. It was still impressive to watch and several outdoor enthusiasts took advantage by surfing on the wave or kayaking through it.


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Alaska railroad and Seward Highway Seward Highway rest stop Turnagain Arm end Alaska railroad Alaska railroad and Twentymile River valley Twentymile River valley
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Wetland Portage Glacier Mountain sunset Whittier tunnel wait Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to Whittier Alaska style bumper
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Alaska style bumper Surfing in Alaska Light Tidal bore Kayaker Kayaker and the tidal bore
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Surfing the bore Sun breaking through the clouds

Last updated: November 10, 2002
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