By Theresa Russell
As if exploring Alaska isn’t already an adventure, I succumbed to the lure of Fox Island, a small island off the coast from Seward. The description of the island instantly appealed. The prospect of kayaking sealed the deal as did the fact that the CIRI tourism company, one operated by Alaska Natives, operated this venture. They know Alaska well and have an excellent reputation. In fact, National Geographic Traveler selected their Best of Kenai Fjords National Park Tour as one of 50 tours of a lifetime.
My adventure actually started several days before when I rented a car to do some touring prior to a cruising the Norwegian Sun from Whittier to Vancouver. Upon our arrival to the Seward area we checked into our log building at the Seward Windsong Lodge, just down the road from Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier is easily accessible by car and a short loop hike, which starts at the visitor center. Driving to the starting point, I noticed the road signs that indicated the reach of this receding glacier in years past. Those signs provide insight into how dynamic Exit Glacier is. Inhaling deeply to enjoy the scent of the forest, I eventually reached the nearest point of the glacier and imagined how immense this icy giant must once have been.
Nothing like an invigorating walk to enjoy nature, but Fox Island beckoned and the tour boat awaited. Boarding with the day-trippers, my husband and I quickly settled in and started the scenic tour and enjoyed the sea life that frequents the bay. Seals, otters and a variety of birds put on a show for us on our short trip to Fox Island. Reaching our destination, we headed to the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge and enjoyed a tasty lunch created by the resident chef. Energized for our paddle, we geared up for our kayaking adventure and then received instructions about our tour.
We paddled for several hours listening to our guide who described the environment and its residents. Sea lions passed nearby, but the highlight was the amazing pink starfish that hugged the rocky cliffs. Something seemed incongruous seeing what I thought of as residents of the Caribbean making their home here. Whoever sees a glossy ad for Alaska featuring the vivid creatures on the rocks?
Heading back to the lodge, we stroked around the resident seal, being respectful of his space that he used to entertain us. Fortunately, the calm bay near the lodge posed no paddling challenges so keeping our distance from the seal involved little extra expenditure of energy. We reached the steep shore, pulled our kayaks from the shore and readied ourselves for our next adventure.
Our rustic cabin, home for the night provided a few creature comforts like hot water, shower and toilets, solar powered electricity, but no electrical outlets. (Bring plenty of spare batteries!) Our cabin overlooked a peaceful pond, where if we had more energy, we could have paddled a canoe to enjoy the serenity of the area. We truly felt a part of this great wilderness that is Kenai Fjords National Park.
Rustic and simple doesn’t necessarily eliminate gourmet food and memorable experiences. We enjoyed our specially prepared meal by our young chef. Outstanding scenery, elegant surroundings and sumptuous food made us yearn for another day in this remote island paradise, where there is literally very little to do. Doing nothing is a luxury often not enjoyed.
As evening approached, we headed to a campfire to make s’mores and chat with the other guests and staff who told us the history of the island and how it came to be. We retreated early. Tomorrow we would rejoin the boat and explore more of Resurrection Bay where we would enjoy the amazing calving of a glacier, the orcas, sea lions, bear and seals; the finishing touches for this perfect adventure.
About Theresa Russell
Claiming her lust for travel began on her first journey through the birth canal, Theresa is genetically programmed to travel and to have fun doing it. She especially enjoys adventure and experiential travel and always finds something at a destination to write home about.