Our third day in Alaska was July 4th, which happens to be Independence Day. Alaskans apparently know how to celebrate! There were American Flags everywhere you looked, fireworks, fairs, races, and everything in between. I’ll admit that I was a little surprised by this, considering they’ve only been a state since 1959.
It just blew my mind to think about that. I guess I’ve always taken my statehood for granted because I’ve always lived in one of the thirteen original colonies. There are people alive who remember when Alaska was a state. When I voiced this mind blowing discovery, Daniel reminded me that there are people alive who voted for (or against!) Alaska to become a state.
I guess it’s just one of those things that you don’t think will ever change, like Pluto being a planet. As easily as that changed, we could have 51 states instead of 50. I just lack the ability to fully explain how amazed I am by this. I really am too easily amused!
Before this weird rant becomes a novel, I’ll tell you how we ended up celebrating Independence Day!
We headed into Seward to check out The Alaska SeaLife Center. It was a nice little aquarium, but I was definitely underwhelmed. Living so close to Adventure Aquarium has definitely spoiled me. Adventure Aquarium doesn’t have an Alaskan Seabird Room, though. It’s basically a room with a pool. The birds fly/swim/walk around, and you can get pretty close. They have people watching so you don’t touch the birds, but they’re close enough that, if you were allowed, you could!
As soon as I pulled out my camera, this adorable little puffin came out. He was like a model. Every time he heard my shutter click, he’d change positions. Daniel had to pull me away from him while explaining that no one needed 50+ photos of one puffin.
They also had a touch exhibit, lots of art, sea lions, seals, a seating area to watch the puffins (and other birds) dive underwater, and the cutest baby stingray to ever exist.
I think we spent about two hours in there before heading out. Across the street was this AMAZING whale mural. It reminds me of the whale mural in Philly.
Seward is such a cute, artsy town. There are murals everywhere, and the houses are all amazing, too!
I was also pretty excited when we drove by Mile Marker 0 of the Iditarod Trail. I made Daniel stop the car for some photos. I won’t post them all, but I basically made everyone stand with everyone else, in ever possible combination, under this sign. Yeah.
Sewardians also know how to celebrate. For the 4th, they had a parade and street fair centered around their annual Mt. Marathon Race. It’s a 5km run up and down a mountain. When I say up a mountain, I mean 3000+ above sea level. According to the Wikipedia article I linked, the average pace up the mountain is 2 mph. It’s a pretty steep and treacherous course.
The first run took place in 1908. According to the boat captain from Day 2 who may have been named Steve, every day two men had to climb to the top of the mountain to check for incoming ships. They challenged each other to run up and back in under an hour. Neither of them did it, but others have over the years.
It had been raining since before we arrived in Alaska two days before this. Needless to say the trail was EXTRA muddy. The participants were covered! I thought it looked like a lot of fun, but apparently it’s very, very hard to get a spot in the run.
After walking around the street fair for a while, we headed to check out Exit Glacier. What a weird name, right? Well, it received it’s name because it served as the exit for the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield…. which is basically a huge field of snow and ice that gives birth to glaciers. As we drove up to the park, we could tell why it made such a great exit.
It’s the only glacier accessible by car in the area. We parked and were right next to the glacier within 15 minutes.
I was disappointed that we couldn’t get close enough to touch it, but it was still pretty amazing! Apparently you can get up close and personal with the toe when the water levels are low. Keeping my fingers crossed, we walked the trail down to the outwash plain. The water was too high, though. We did find a few chunks of glacier floating down the stream, though!
It was a pretty amazing experience! The rain had started up at this point, so we called it an early night. We made plans for a pretty awesome adventure the next morning while we played cards and drank Alaskan beer.
This day added one thing to my list of reasons to go back to Alaska. I want to touch a glacier… and, well, I’d like to hike on one, too.