March 07, 2022
I was born and raised in Wimer, Oregon – a tiny town in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley (two hours inland from the coast) - surrounded by evergreens and mountains. I grew up on a 400-acre quarter horse ranch and spent my youth running around outside with my cousins and siblings. Yet somehow, the ocean is what I have always been most passionate about.
During high school I was the editor of the yearbook and discovered a deep love of photojournalism. After school, I accepted a photography job in Bellingham, WA and spent the next six years working as a product photographer for an industrial company. Living so close to the San Juan Islands allowed me to make the ferry commute every weekend to Friday Harbor and volunteer with several different marine conservation groups.
I was offered a Foreign Correspondent position with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Japan at The Cove and embarked on a decade-long whirlwind of global travel, photography, journalism, and pursuing my passion for marine conservation.
After my time at The Cove, I joined Sea Shepherd’s flagship, the Steve Irwin, and discovered that I loved working on boats. After many years overseas, I returned Stateside and moved to Friday Harbor (WA) full time where I crewed on whale watch boats and worked at a café where I learned to be a barista. Eventually I attended the Coast Guard Sea School in Saint Petersburg, Florida and obtained my 100-ton captain’s license.
I first came to Seward in 2003 on a camping trip to Miller’s Landing. At the time, I was living in Girdwood and made the trip down to Seward regularly with my cousins.
In 2017 I was living in Bellingham but crewed aboard a fishing tender out of Seward. Spending the summer here reminded me how much I love this little town and I decided to stay.
When I decided to settle in Seward, I was at the end of a decade of constant travel, crewing on boats in many different parts of the world, and living in the back of a Jeep Cherokee. I was exhausted to my very core. After running around the world, the community I found in Seward was so inviting that I decided to call it home. I worked random jobs (Sea Bean, Zudy’s, Salmon Sisters) and began volunteering at the prison. I was ready to plant roots and build a solid life
I was friends with the owners and guides of Liquid Adventures and was familiar with The Train Wreck [a group of four Alaska Railroads cars converted into retail and restaurant space in the North end of the Seward Boat Harbor]. On a hike to Tonsina with one of their kayak guides, I learned they were moving out of the train car, where their office had been located for many years. I casually mentioned my secret dream of wanting to own a coffee shop and that the train car would be an ideal location.
As is the norm with small towns, word spread about that conversation on the Tonsina trail, and within days Seward locals were rallying behind me to encourage me to start a coffee shop. Judy Odhner at Zudy’s was integral to me finding the courage to take the risk and pursue my dream. She really encouraged me and pep-talked me and made me believe in myself.
I had a meeting with the owners of Liquid Adventures about taking over the train car and then it all just happened so quickly. It was a whirlwind. Despite a lot of frustrated tears, I somehow made it all happen, with a lot of help from the community, and 13 Ravens Coffee House opened in May of 2019 at The Train Wreck in Seward’s harbor district.
Less than three years later, I purchased the entire Train Wreck from the woman who started it back in 1997. It was a big step for me, and something that once again prompted the Seward community to rally and support and encourage. It was so beautiful and humbling to see how many people in the town love the Train Wreck and wanted to help keep it alive. And it was beautiful to be shown how many people believed in me and had no doubt that I was the right person to continue the legacy that these train cars have.
Without owning a business here, I probably wouldn’t know half the people I do. The coffee shop brings people in, and I feel so blessed to have turned customers into friends. The Seward community truly is spectacular. There are so many good people in this town and seeing their faces every day and feeling how much they support my shop is the best part of my job.
Life itself inspires me. There have been times, a lot of times, when life has been really hard. When I was 16 my brother was murdered and that changed my perspective on every aspect of life. It took a few years to wade through the grief, but once I made it out, I realized that life is beautiful and special and spectacular. I also realized that it’s fragile and fleeting, no matter how many years you live. I didn’t want my number to be called before I’d had a chance to see the world and discover who I am and really and truly…LIVE. My brother’s death was the catalyst for my extensive travel and I’m so happy with how my life has been.
Travel is what helps you find your true self, especially solo travel. I feel fortunate to have seen the places I have and to have created deep friendships with people in many different countries. Now that I’m no longer a nomad, people get on me sometimes for working too much and not taking enough vacations, but my response is that I am so satisfied with the experiences I’ve had and with the memories I have of the world. My focus now is my coffee shop because I love it so much. I’m exactly where I want to be – nurturing the roots I’ve worked so hard to plant.
Winter is most definitely my favorite season in Seward. Summer is undoubtedly beautiful, but winter is downright magical. I’ve always been a cold-weather person, so to find a place where snow drapes the shoreline of the sea is the most perfect environment for me. I love snowshoeing through the forest and being surrounded by such peaceful quiet. There’s nothing like it.
It might be blasphemy for a coffee shop owner to admit this, but I’ve never been a “coffee snob”. I’ll drink gas station coffee that makes you shudder with the first sip. I’ll drink the drip coffee that my dad makes and reheats for several days until the pot is gone. At my own shop, I mix it up regularly. I’ll do just straight shots of espresso or oat milk lattes. I do love breve’s the most, but those can be dangerous! When your expensive Grundens rain pants start feeling a bit snug, it’s time to stop drinking half and half!
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not possible. Stop looking for excuses and go for it. It’s going to be challenging and you’re going to make mistakes, but being your own boss is so worth it. Ask for advice, but also trust your instinct.
What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to do things the way every other coffee shop in the world does things. That’s what makes things unique. And it works for me and my shop. My personality is all over my shop – I love the color orange and if you’ve been to my shop, you know that because there’s a ton of orange in such a small space.
I used to be a music photographer and I have autographed concert posters on the walls. Initially, I hesitated to put them up because it’s not really a coffee shop thing, but I spend most of my time at my shop and I love seeing those posters every day, and customers love them too. So many great conversations have been started because of the photos and posters on the walls. It’s all about being authentic.
13 Ravens is located at the "Train Wreck" - 411 Port Ave, Seward, AK 99664.
13 Ravens is open majority of the year.
February 08, 2022
On the boat, you're an active member of the trip. Unlike the big boats, you aren't just a passenger being talked to through a PA system. We are right here on the boat next to you. Have questions? Just ask! Want to go somewhere else, linger with an animal, or change angles for photography? Of course we are here to help you with that.
Our trips run with anywhere from 1 to 6 people. The means that it is a unique, customizable experience. Even with multiple parties on the boat, there's a lot of flexibility in the itinerary.
We love our "job" (it really doesn't feel like work!) So if you call us at 6PM and want a quick evening trip, we will do it if we can!
We love the community of Seward and give back to local charities, sports associations, schools, and the Alaska Sealife Center.
We are a proud member of Whale SENSE, a voluntary education and recognition program for responsible whale watching practices. Seward Ocean Excursions follows and promotes sustainable tourism and has achieved AGA (Adventure Green Alaska) certification.
So we decided, why not start our own business! The rest is history!
The uniqueness of our coastline (and land) gives so many opportunities to get out and see things and explore. I love checking out remote beaches, exploring remote forests, and discovering new things out there. It’s amazing to me how quickly in Alaska (and perhaps especially Seward) you can feel like you’re alone in nature, even if you’re close to town.
Besides those aesthetic things, I love doing outdoor activities with my wife and son including camping and staying at remote cabins, fishing, snowmachining, and flying our airplane.
What's your favorite season to get out on the water? Do you have favorite spots to bring guests? Or favorite animal to spot in Res Bay?
I get asked this question a lot on the phone and on trips, but I usually tell people that all the seasons are my favorite - just different. Growing up in California, I never really had true seasons, and now that I live in Alaska I love the changing seasons, conditions, and activities that happens over the course of the year.
If I had to pick a favorite season to be on the water, it’s definitely the shoulder/winter season though. The views with the snow and ice are epic, and there’s still a ton of wildlife to see. And, of course, less boat traffic which makes it feel like we have the whole ocean to ourselves
My favorite spot in Resurrection Bay is hard to pin down. I also often get asked this, and I jokingly say it all is. I find myself on tours saying “this is my favorite spot” over and over, and it’s funny when people call me on it! But, if I had to pick, either Humpy Cove or Thumb Cove for the tranquility. For favorite beach, Bulldog Cove by Bear Glacier. Favorite island would be Rugged Island.
My favorite land-based animal to see in the Bay is definitely a mountain goat. I love how stable they are on the cliffs. For marine animal, definitely orcas (we see them year-round!).
Advice for aspiring small business owners:
"Set realistic goals and change them if you need to! Don’t start too big! You can always grow later!
Network a lot with other local businesses/etc. Word of mouth is HUGE, and having a good reputation with other local businesses helps. We get (and give) so many referrals from and to local businesses. A strong internet presence is great of course, but word of mouth means a ton."
Seward Ocean Excursions is located at Seward Harbor Slips M-3 & M-5
Seward, AK 99664. They are open year-round for charters & boat taxies and offer local (AK Resident) and military discounts.
December 01, 2021
"How did it come to fruition? Oh long story, I'll try to keep it short . I've wanted my own business for quite some time. If you sit at the bar at the Cookery after closing you'll hear Chef and I talk about new business ideas for Seward (with a bottle of wine in front of us). But, after COVID and the Cookery closed for the winters, I decided to hang out with my parents in SLC, Utah for the winter of 2020. Did some traveling and car camping through Utah and the parks and did a lot of thinking about my future and what it was going to look like if I stayed on this current course. And to be honest, some tears were shed (okay maybe lots of tears). It's scary being jobless, heart broken, away from your home, friends, living with the parents again, and the life you had planned is suddenly gone.
Anyway, I got back from the road trip, and had a lot of time on my hands. So I talked my parents into getting a puppy. And then I started scrolling through Facebook Marketplace and noticed a ton of really cool vintage and antique furniture and decor for ridiculously cheap...and I wanted to buy it all. I talked to my parents about opening a spot. They always listen to my ideas but I don't think they really thought I was going to go through with it.
I knew of a few empty buildings available for rent in Seward and started talking to the owners to see which would be the best fit for my plan. I talked to other business owners and asked them what they thought about my plan. I knew what I wanted to do but verbalizing it to people and trying to get them to understand was another thing. It was all in my head and getting my ideas out to others was not easy but I had a few people who believed in me and gave me advice and their thoughts. So in December I had decided it was going to follow through with it.
I emailed Judy (Owner of Zudys) and asked her to send me the lease agreement. Then I went and poured a glass of wine and told my parents that I was going through with it. And that their vehicles in the garage no longer had a home as I was going to fill it with goods. Parents were thrilled with that... No, they had a few words of advice and mostly warnings but they are so supportive and without them, Primrose wouldn't exist.
So I shopped and shopped and filled up my parents garage. Also, to be clear, by this point I had found a job up in Park City at a private club serving uber rich people. So I had some extra bucks to spend. Then in March my dad and I drove up all the goods in a trailer! ....That's kinda the short version of how it happened. "
What is your favorite thing to recommend to someone Visiting Seward?
Probably the most epic thing I've done is go on a plane ride over the area.
So incredibly beautiful, this place we call home.
But my favorite thing is to hike Tonsina with friends and dogs.
Primrose Provisions is located in the historic train depot at 501 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664. Primrose Provisions is open majority of the year.
November 04, 2021
If you ask a local for recommendations on where to eat - Zudy's Cafe is usually on the list. From their freshly-sourced sandwiches to mouth-watering desserts, to the eclectic art gracing signature green walls, this cozy room in the Historic Seward Train Depot Building is none other than a must-visit when in town.
Meet Judy Odhner, owner of Zudy's Cafe. Growing, Judy's sister had trouble pronouncing her name, calling her "Zudy" - thus born the name this homey cafe dons, at the edge of Resurrection Bay here in Seward, Alaska.
Judy currently lives with her husband, Jan Odhner in Moose Pass, about 25 minutes North of Seward. But the path that brought her here was not direct. The adventure began 31 years ago, when Judy drove all the way from New York to Alaska with her friend Mary Garrett:
"We got to Alaska in the fall. Fairbanks was our first stop as I had a friend at the University. Fairbanks was not our cup of tea so we headed to Anchorage, which was also not our cup of tea.
Weeks later we landed in Moose Pass at Summit Lake Lodge caretaking for the owners during the winter. Moose Pass was teaming with heaps of good looking guys. Just up our alley."
Both Jan and Judy migrated to Alaska from upstate New York, both moving north…but ten years apart. Jan, a local carpenter met Judy at Summit Lake Lodge in Moose Pass. Judy settled in Moose Pass and hired Jan to help build her house. As Judy’s house progressed, so did their love for one another.
In 1993, the house was finished and they soon married and raised two adventurous boys. After the boys left for college, Judy pursued her dream of opening a cafe.
Twenty years later, Zudy’s Cafe was born. Located in the Historic Train Depot, Jan was able to renovate and restore the inside to a cozy little cafe with kitchen views like no other in Alaska. He continues to build, fix and maintain this beautiful building.
"My favorite thing is to come in early to Zudy’s and bake with the sun coming up.
I love working for myself and have learned heaps about people and business in these 8 years."
When asked if she had any advice for aspiring business owners, Judy replied: "Do something you love, and it will never be work."
You can see these amazing views and historic depot for yourself by visiting Zudy's Cafe at 501 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664. Zudy's Cafe is open majority of the year, with a few extended closures for much-deserved R&R during the winter/off-season.
May 19, 2021
September 03, 2020
Take charge of your Alaskan adventure with Seward Ocean Excursions, the only commercial boat tour and water taxi company in Seward that is open year-round! A locally owned, family business offering highly customizable trips, Seward Ocean Excursions is an excellent choice to explore Alaska’s oceans and beautiful coastal landscapes in the manner that best suits you. Small group (up to 6 people) tours allow you to become active members and participants of the boat trip; captains and crew are not beholden to specific routes or timelines, so you are afforded more flexibility as you explore Seward and magnificent glaciers and wildlife.
Captain Bixler McClure is a fifth generation Sewardite with a passion for the ocean and outdoors, so he started Seward Ocean Excursions to share Alaska with others. The company is closely involved with the Seward community and gives back to local charities, sports associations, schools and the Alaska Sealife Center. Seward Ocean Excursions also promotes sustainable tourism and has achieved the Adventure Green Alaska certification.
September 03, 2020
Seward Air Tours is your ticket to the unimaginable. Beyond the 4,000 foot tall mountains towering over Seward lies Kenai Fjords National Park and the Harding Icefield. Typically these locations are only accessed by boat or adventurous hikers seeking unprecedented views of the Icefield. But Seward Air Tours gives you access to these remote landscapes in a matter of minutes. Find yourself immersed in a sea of ice and snow upon the Harding Icefield with one of their Glacier Landings, which can be combined with any scenic tour. Our favorite trip is our Bear Glacier Tour with a Glacier Landing, which features a beautiful blue lagoon, icebergs of every shape and size, pristine rocky beaches and pinnacle rocks, and Kenai Fjord's longest glacier. Guests have described this experience as "transformative" and we hear from guests all the time, "this made our whole trip to Alaska". You have to see it to believe it.
Joey Smith is Seward Air Tours’ Owner, Pilot and Mechanic. With over a decade of Alaska flight experience, and over 18 years of total flying and aircraft maintenance experience, Joey will ensure your flight is fun, unique and most importantly, safe. A Minnesota native, Joey moved to Alaska 14 years ago, and has been with Seward Air Tours since 2018. His admiration for Seward and the surrounding area has only grown. With a heart for adventure fueled by curiosity, he continues to explore the peninsula with zeal, and is eager to share it with you.