by Kelley Lane for Seward City News-
August and September are typically rainy months in Seward. This year has been on target with most of the past month including substantial precipitation. Each time that it’s not actively pouring sheets of rain, I get out of my house and rejoice that I’m not getting sopping wet. But there are plenty of times when the skies have been actively dumping and the streets and sidewalks are shedding substantial water. All around town, I hear people bemoaning the lack of sunshine. At City meetings, I hear concerns about flooding and the rising waters in Lowell Creek. Yes, these are all real concerns. At the same time, Seward does have some indoor spaces and activities that can be a real delight. We are not Anchorage, with their tremendous indoor public spaces, but we do have the SeaLife Center, AVTEC Gym, a stunning public library and museum and Resurrect Art Coffee House, along with a few others.
The SeaLife Center offers a few different membership options, with year long admission for one starting at $55. I bought one of these last fall. I added a plus one to my membership for an additional $35, which allows me to take any one other individual with me to enjoy the animals and facilities. They offer family memberships for $140. I have gotten good usage out of my membership during the wet rainy days when I need somewhere to go walk around. I love supporting Alaska’s aquarium, and getting to pay repeat visits to the animals. There are multiple seating areas throughout the building, water fountains, restroom facilities and vending machines. And of course, the sea life itself, which is ever changing and spectacular to watch. I love having the opportunity that my membership allows in letting me spend as short or as long as I want to on any given day, without the pressure of feeling like I need to get my single admission price money’s worth. To view ticket & membership prices, please visit: http://www.alaskasealife.org/tickets.
Let’s talk about the hidden jewel that we have in the City’s contract to use space in the AVTEC Gym. This contract was hotly debated this past year, and for a time, was in jeopardy. Citizens lined up to speak on the importance of AVTEC for their winter happiness at public meetings and won the continued use of the gym. At present, the residents of Seward can use the gym from 9:30am to 9pm Tuesday through Saturday. The single admission price is $5 for adults and $3 for youths and senior citizens, which includes use of cardio and weight machines, free weights, hot showers, bathrooms, and a racquetball court. Additionally, the sauna is open on Tuesday and Thursday nights, for men from 7-8pm and for women from 8-9pm. There’s a rock wall in the basketball gym that’s available on Friday nights from 7-9 and they even have roller skating on Saturdays from 2-3:30, with use of skates included in the admission price. In our household, we buy punchcards, for $80 each, which buys 20 gym visits. I have sauna nights scheduled into my weekly calendar, as the warm heat helps me tremendously to face the gray drizzly days with a better temperament. The AVTEC Gym is located at 519 Fourth Avenue. More information can be found at: http://www.cityofseward.us/Index.aspx?NID=897.
Seward boasts an incredible public library and museum, located at 239 6th Avenue. Even when it is pouring rain outside, the library provides a warm and dry place to read of other places and ideas, or learn more about Seward’s history. The library staff can help with searching for particular books or movies to borrow, and will be glad to help you complete an application for a library card. September is Library Card Sign Up Month, but they are glad to help any time of the year. I enjoy perusing the magazine section located on the southernmost shelving units, where I can read from a variety of periodicals and newspapers. This year, I’ve delighted in reading my way through a small portion of the Alaska section, particularly favoring titles that teach me about our local Seward history, including Doug Capra’s short story collection, The Spaces Between: Stories from the Kenai Mountains to the Kenai Fjords and the 700+ page “Family After All,” written about the Jesse Lee Home, a Methodist home for children that was located in Seward for more than four decades. The library has transitioned to winter hours, opening at 11am Monday through Saturday, and closing at either 6pm or 8pm. Their hours can be found at: http://www.cityofseward.us/libmus.
Resurrect Art Coffee House, often referred to as “Rez Art,” located at 320 Third Avenue, is open all year long. I have heard many locals refer to it as “Seward’s living room.” Owner Micheley Kowalski recently added additional square footage for patrons, in the upstairs “Belfry Room.” The downstairs underwent renovations this past winter, with the addition of a lovely new stove in the main downstairs area. The cafe serves espresso drinks, teas, locally made pastries and bottled beverages. Occasionally, they serve locally made quiche and a few other food items. The cafe has an assortment of seating options, including comfy couches, work surface tables and stools. They display and sell local artwork including greeting cards, jewelry and paintings. To warm up, one need only come inside and see the good cheer of neighbors and friends visiting with one another. A warm beverage helps too. The cafe is open from 7am-7pm daily, and will transition to winter hours, with a 5pm closing time as we move into October. The bulletin board on the left as one enters the cafe provides good reading material in the form of announcements of activities happening around town. This fall, local artist Justine Pechuzal will be holding art classes at the cafe as well, and her flyers are among the many others you’ll find on the board. For Rez Art hours and contact information, please visit: http://resurrectart.com/, or find them on Facebook.
In researching and talking with people around town about this article, I heard a few other excellent suggestions of rainy day activities. The American Legion hosts a breakfast that’s open to the public every third Sunday of each month. The meal doesn’t cost a specific amount, but cash donations go towards supporting the meal. The next breakfast will be on Sunday, October 22nd from 9-11am. Finally, we have a local swimming pool here in town, which is located at the Seward High School, 2100 Swetmann Avenue. Admission is $5, with showering facilities included in that price. The schedule of lap and open swim times can be found at: http://sewardhighschool.blogs.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/wp-content/blogs.dir/3568/files/2012/06/Pool-Schedule-Aug-Dec-2017.pdf
I’m curious to hear of other people’s rainy day activities and local treasures that I have yet to discover. Seward is full of hidden gems!