Road Trip Alaska—Leaving the City for the Seward Highway

We had one more night in Anchorage before heading south towards Seward. We were fortunate to have one “lazy day” in town before we went, which is rare for us when we travel. We had an awesome breakfast at Snow City Café–bangin’ stuffed French toast with mandarin cream cheese and tangy raspberry butter. Afterward, we drove around to a few local parks, including Earthquake Park which commemorates the 1964 quake that swallowed an entire neighborhood. After park-hopping, I drove the truck for the first time around a parking lot (like a teenager learning for the first time). It was extremely bizarre at first, but quickly became addictive. Real girls drive trucks.

After strolling downtown once more, we stopped for a beer flight at Glacier Brewhouse, and then went to Humpy’s Alehouse for some awesome Halibut fish and chips. Before calling it a night, we went for one drink at the swanky Crow’s Nest, which sits on the 20th floor of Hotel Captain Cook. We didn’t eat there because of the prices, but we got one fantastic glass of champagne at the bar while gawking at the sweeping skyline view from way up high. The sun was setting into a deep orange glow and the lights of the city glimmered. Best way to bid Anchorage goodbye.

The next morning, we got up early to begin our drive down the Seward Highway to the town of Seward. It was misty and grey clouds hung low in the sky as we started our drive, but it was beautiful from the start. Snow-capped mountains flooded the horizon, and the road wound along the base. Next to the road, rustic train tracks hugged the landscape alongside the crystal water, and small peaks of sunshine battled through the haze. Since it was off-season, the road wasn’t flooded with tourists like it can be in the summertime, and at times it felt like we had it all to ourselves. We stopped at pullouts and snapped photos (aka, posed in front of our pickup truck like proud parents)—taking our time. It was windy and frigid at certain stops and mild and balmy at others, depending on what side of the mountains we were on. The ebbs and flows of the landscape became intriguing.

At about mile marker 70 was the intersection of Hope Junction, a 16-mile road that would lead to the semi-ghost town of Hope, AK. Fiending for exploration, we took the detour and trudged down the country route to the town sign. We had hoped to find an open café for lunch, but since it was off season, the miniature town was nearly shut down. A quick turn into the “historic district” brought us to a short, dirt-covered road, a handful of old wooden houses and buildings, and a mountainous backdrop. There was a profound stillness in the air when we stopped the truck and jumped out to gauge our surroundings. The smell of burning firewood swirled around us, reminding me of an old log cabin in the wintertime. The water lapped gently at the shoreline and the air was cool. The town just sat there, tucked away at the foot of the mountain, seemingly lost in time.

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Back on the road, we wound closer to Seward, where the water suddenly seemed to become a richer shade of teal and the blue of the mountains began to reveal itself through the clouds. Every time I thought I would be sick of pretty views, a new landscape emerged. As much as we’d been warned that the road was curvy and hair-raising, I never once felt anything but calm during our drive. I think we have tackled enough pavement by now to keep our threshold for hairy driving on the high side.13062511_10100870484314499_9013625746204437943_n

127 miles later, we rolled into Seward. The town was small and nestled just inside a blanket of mountains, which seemed to cradle the town on all sides. The water along the town’s edge was covered with small, rocking sailboats. We parked the truck by Hotel Seward, which sat along one of two small main strips in “downtown”. The streets were quiet, something we’d grown used to throughout our April visit. We went to dinner that night at Ray’s Waterfront, which boasted a water view. At one point, a pair of sea otters swam past the dock just beyond the restaurant window and several un-phased locals kept sipping their wine. Nice evening company.

We grabbed one more drink at a local dive bar near our hotel, Yukon Bar. At one point, I peeked outside a tiny, dirty window way off in the corner of the bar, and saw snowy blue mountains. The mountains literally own this place, sneaking their way into your view when you least expect it. We went to sleep feeling completely engulfed by it all.   IMG_1358

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