I am back at the Iceberg Lodge after spending a whirlwind three days in the bustling metropolis that is Seward during the summer. I went in for a friend’s wedding, and was planning to do some shopping in town; this plan was complicated by the fact that I forgot my wallet back at the Lodge. My friend’s reception was at a local watering hole; fortunately I wasn’t carded. I borrowed money from a friend to buy food and to pick up some things around town – essentials such as toothpaste, soap, hand cream, and used books. I feel like forgetting my wallet is a sign of how easily one adapts to living off the grid - it never occurred to me that I would actually need cash, credit cards, and ID until I was back into the gift-shop laden heart of Seward’s downtown.
I visited the aquarium, and happened to run into a co-worker who very kindly invited me upstairs to see the new seal pup. Atuun, one of the aquarium’s resident seals gave birth last week – last I heard mom and pup are doing well, though they are still off-exhibit for the time being. (The seal pup is tentatively thought to be female; her name hasn’t been formally announced.) The pup looked frisky; she was lying on her back, waving her flippers in the air, and chewing on anything in reach – fence, foam mat, Mom, own flipper. Atuun looked very tired; but she was definitely keeping an eye on her pup – and us. The pup is tiny; her flippers look disproportionately large to the rest of her. She’s grey mostly; I can see a bit of her dad Snapper in her coloring. Huge thanks to the Mammal staff for letting me take a look at her. I think she’s going to be charming the pants off of aquarium visitors as soon as she goes out into the seal tank.
There is also new art in front of the aquarium, which was nice to finally see – though it was neither as pretty nor as exciting as seeing the baby seal. I also saw Woody, the aquarium’s 2000 pound male Steller sea lion – who saw me approach his tank, and immediately jumped onto his rock and started looking around for his trainers. I don’t know if it was coincidence, or if he actually recognized me as the person who interprets some of his feeding sessions. It’s touching to think he might remember me – even if he only associates me as a person tangentially connected with his fish buckets.
Also in town, I tracked down two packages – one of which was a package of two pairs of new Helly Hansen rain pants, which turned out to be too large. I would figure that if the medium size were small, the natural solution would be to order a large? In fact, no – the large is enormous. And because I purchased them through a pro purchase program, I can’t return or exchange them, which is a little disappointing. I might end up giving them to my mom – which you also are not supposed to do with a pro purchase program. Unfortunately, since I can’t return them, my options are to sell them, give them away, or let them mildew in my triplex room for the rest of the summer. And, I’ll probably be placing another order with Helly Hansen to try and get rain pants that are the right size. Yes, it’s worth the hassle. Here in the Alaskan rain forest, you live and die by the quality of your waterproof gear. At last count, I have five different pairs of rain pants (counting the two that don’t fit), and three different rain jackets. I will probably be buying at least one more of each before the end of the summer. And that’s not counting the various waterproof backpack covers, dry bags, pelican cases, XtraTuff boots, neoprene gloves, and rain hats.
Other things in Seward don't change - there are still retired couples with giant RVs double parked in the Safeway parking lot, boat trailers on the highway swinging into the oncoming lane, and feral rabbits devouring my friend's garden. (He's trying to eradicate/relocate them; they, in retaliation, have given birth under his porch.) Woody the sea lion still bites his girlfriends; and emergency calls about stranded seal pups still interrupt plans to visit with friends. Also, my cousins are still remodeling their kitchen - the only appreciable difference between the kitchen last month and the kitchen last week is that the water is back on in their house.