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Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking

Wildlife Spotlight - Glaucous-winged Gull

Look closely; those white spots are all birds!
That's a lot of birds.
The glaucous-winged gull, an inconspicuous bird, a simple white and gray motif.  You'll see it everywhere up here in Alaska. It's large size makes it often mistaken for an eagle when soaring high in the sky. Which at times is a fair mistake since glauscous-winged gulls have been known to kill and eat other smaller birds, even small mammals. These birds also happen to play an integral part as food for other birds of prey and spraying nutrient rich "matter" out their rear end. 

Along side these large birds you will often see their smaller cousin, the kittiwake. We have two types of kittiwake, the black and the red legged. The only way to tell them apart is a visual check of the legs. Kittiwakes love to feed on small oily fish. You will often see a large gathering of these birds above the water when a bait ball (school of small fish) has gathered. These bait balls also tend to attract whales, keeping an eye on a pack of kittiwake can sometimes reward you with a sight of some blubber.

Well these facts about gulls may not impress you, you may even ignore them when you're out and about. Yet there is no way to ignore either of these birds at their nesting grounds. The stench and the sound are over whelming. The sound and smell of thousands of gulls may not seem appealing but it is truly a sight to be seen...preferably from the inside of the boat.

~ Jack

History Spotlight - Klondike Gold Rush

Gold Prospectors carrying gear through treacherous terrain 
If you have been following our history spotlight posts, you will remember that when Alaska was purchased in 1867, the American public was not thrilled about tax payer money being spend on a frozen wasteland. But on August 16, 1896, that started to change with the discovery of gold in the Yukon area near the United States/Canada border.

Over the next four years, over 100,000 prospectors made the journey to the region in what became known as the Klondike Gold Rush. Unfortunately for most, the terrain and weather proved too much with roughly only 4,000 prospectors striking gold. When gold was discovered in Nome, Alaska a few years later, most gave up on the treacherous journey that made up the Klondike Gold Rush. While a failure for many, the discovery of gold in Alaska was the beginning of understanding how rich Alaska was in natural resources and Alaska would never again be referred to
as Seward's Folly.

~ Danny

A Day in the Life of a Guide: Fox Island

Fox Island gear shed
Sunny Cove offers trips out of several locations and my personal favorite spot to be is Fox Island.
Fox Island is about 12 miles out from Seward and our guides loving getting out to the island for a bit. If we are scheduled for trips on the island, we hop on one of the Kenai Fjords Tours (KFT) boats and get dropped off with our guests on the island. KFT has a day and overnight lodge on the island and Sunny Cove partners with them to get to and from the island. After our trips are over, our guests board a later boat and head back to Seward. As for the guides, we usually stay out for several days before heading back to town. For guides who love the remoteness of Alaska like I do, Fox Island is the perfect getaway and I always look forward to spending time at my favorite spot to guide.

~ Danny

Staff Spotlight - Jack Delaney

Meet Jack! Jack is from Iowa and will be a senior at the University of Northern Iowa in the fall. Jack is a Physics major who plans to teach high school physics after he graduates. This is Jack's second year guiding at Sunny Cove and here are some fast facts about Jack!

Favorite Food: Brownies

Favorite Movie: Midgets vs. Mascots

Favorite Book: Enders Game

Favorite TV Show: Parks and Rec

Favorite Sports Team: Bayern Munich

Number one item of bucket list: Travel to Asia and bum around for a while.

Best Alaska Experience: Getting his picture taken on the top of Mount Marathon in Seward and having it posted in a local calendar as Mr. January.

Wilderness First Responder
Bachelor of Physics anticipated spring of 2015

Why you love to guide: I enjoy giving people unique experiences and telling people puns.

Personal Statement: I have a dead toenail on my foot. Is that personal enough? :-) (That's Jack for ya!)

Wildlife Spotlight: Black Oystercatcher

One of the most rare birds around, the Black Oystercatcher is a favorite among birders looking to add a new bird to their life list. Easily identified with their black body and large thin bright red beak, the eggs of these birds blend right in with the rocks along the Alaskan shoreline making coastal Alaska perfect for reproduction.

As human traffic increases in Seward and other tourist hotspots, we do our best to educate our visitors about their nests as it would be easy to trample over one without even noticing because of the camouflaged nature of the eggs. If you get near a nest, you will often see the mother approach you flapping her wing and feigning an injury in an attempt to get you to chase her and leave the nesting area. If you are visiting our coastline and notice this, watch your step!

~ Danny

History Spotlight - Lowell Family Settles in Resurrection Bay

If we have had the pleasure of having you on one of our trips, you probably are familiar with Lowell Point. This small area of land is about 2 miles south of Seward and is where Sunny Cove launches many of its trips that paddle out in Resurrection Bay. Lowell Point is named after Frank and Mary Lowell; their family was the first group of settlers to homestead in what is now Seward.

Picture taken from Lowell Point
Frank was a boat captain from Maine who made his way to Alaska to get involved with the fur trading business. Frank met and married Mary who was a local half native woman from the village of English Bay. After a nearby volcano erupted, English Bay was decimated from the ash and tidal waves caused by the volcano and so Frank and Mary moved and settled in Resurrection Bay in 1884 where they raised a large family of 8-9 children. Several of the surrounding land features around Seward are named after this family.

~ Danny

A Day in the Life of a Guide: Kayak Camping

Colin paddling in front a glacier
We guides are privileged to get paid to do what our guests pay money to enjoy. But don't think for one second that hard work is not involved! Take our kayak camping trips for example: Colin and I recently guided a 6 day kayak camping adventure to remote Northwestern Fjord. Preparing for this type of trip takes a full day itself and includes prepping and testing gear, preparing and organizing meals, and meeting with our guests to review the trip.

Once in the field, an average days consists of waking up around 6am to get coffee and breakfast ready, preparing lunch to take on our day's route, kayaking for several hours, getting dinner ready, and cleaning dishes and putting all smellables in the bear box. We probably wrapped up and got some down time around 11pm each night. Just enough time to take a break, catch a few Zzzzs and do it all again the next day. And this is all followed by a full day of cleaning up, washing dishes, and drying gear after the trip is over. But even with all that goes into making these trips memorable for our guests, pretty sure our guides wouldn't trade in the experience for anything as the rewards are in the breathtaking scenery and wildlife we encounter in places that very few will ever see.

~ Danny

Staff Spotlight - Danny Meuninck

Danny is back for his 2nd season working at Sunny Cove. Originally from the Hoosier state of Indiana, he currently spends his off season in Orlando, Florida working at the University of Central Florida. Danny is one of our lead guides and our main blog author. Here's some cool stuff about him!

Favorite Food: Chicago style deep dish pizza

Favorite TV Show: LOST

Favorite Movie: A Few Good Men

Favorite Sports Team: Cubbies!

Favorite Book: Blue Like Jazz

Best Life Experience: Discovering my spiritual side. Struggling through my faith and what that means has led to more personal growth than I thought possible in myself. 

Best Alaskan Experience: Guiding a trip last summer where I found myself in the middle of a triangle  of two pods of orcas and a humpback whale. Orcas literally swam under my kayak. Not sure I will ever be lucky enough to experience something like that again!

Bachelor Degree - Communication
Master Degree - Higher Education
Wilderness First Responder
NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Alum
LNT (Leave No Trace) Master Educator
Certified Alaska Tour Guide

Why you love to guide: I could run the same trip over and over and it will always be a different experience. Different guests, different weather, different water conditions, different wildlife viewings, the list goes on. There is no monotony is guiding and after having a full time desk job, I can't describe how lucky I feel to have the beautiful surroundings of Resurrection Bay as my office.  

Personal Statement: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~ Philippians 4:13

Happy Father's Day!

Hiking with dad
From all of us at Sunny Cove, Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there! Shout out to my dad for always being super supportive especially after I decided to move to Alaska of all places :-) If you are in town with your father, we still have plenty of space available on our afternoon trips today for a nice Father's Day paddle. To all you great fathers, have a great Father's Day!

~ Danny

Trip Spotlight – Fox Island Sea Kayaking and Wildlife Cruise Combination

Fox Island Day Lodge
Our exclusive and unique day tour allows you to experience a half-day of sea kayaking combined with a full salmon & prime rib buffet followed by a wildlife cruise of Resurrection Bay, the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Secluded coves, bold sea stack formations and waters alive with wildlife await you. This combo is offered in conjunction with Kenai Fjord Tours.

If I was forced to pick my favorite place to run trips, Fox Island would win hands down. As the only outfitter who runs trip on Fox Island, you get a true appreciation of the epic vastness of the ocean and wilderness of Alaska. Closer to the Gulf of Alaska, your chances of seeing a humpback whale or orca increases drastically and there is nothing like the sight of seeing a 90,000 pound humpback whale breaching out of the water or a pod or Killer Whales cruising past the coves. And if you don’t see a whale on our kayak trip, there is a good chance you will see one during the wildlife cruise. Fox Island is the place to be! ~Danny

Staff Spotlight - Matt Barnes

Matt is a fourth year guide at Sunny Cove which makes him our most experienced full time guide! Matt hails from Stone Mountain, Georgia and has spent the last five summers in the great state of Alaska. Here's a little info to help you get to know Matt!

Favorite Food: Eggs

Favorite Book: The Road

Favorite TV Show: LOST

Best Life Experience: Solo road trip across the country, up to Alaska, and back.

Best Alaskan Experience: Paddling with and between two "finners" (fin whales).

Wilderness First Responder
ACA (American Canoe Association) Level II Instructor
LNT (Leave No Trace) Trainer
NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Alum
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

Why do you love to guide: Kayak guiding is more of a preoccupation than an occupation. It's a job impervious to monotony - where any average day's an adventure. It warrants my lateral drifting and brings equipoise to my impulses. I get to be kinetic while sedentary, steady over unsettled waters, buoyant over an abyss, and an ungrounded conduit through which others can experience a wild and visceral marine sanctuary.

Personal Statement: We travel down the road of mystery not to gain knowledge, but to deepen the mystery.