Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 863: Glacier Bay Day

Today was a day of firsts. You’d think as many times as we've cruised to Alaska we wouldn't run into anything new. We were surprisingly wrong.

The morning started out with the ship heading back into Glacier Bay for another day of glacial sightseeing. But the ship didn't get far before the captain made an announcement. Someone on the ship was ill and required a Coast Guard rescue. Being we were miles away – this is Alaska - a helicopter was dispatched and we turned around, headed back to the inlet of the bay, and waited for the medevac arrival.

As the estimated time of arrival varied greatly, we were instructed not to forbidden to go out on any of the decks. We were essentially sequestered inside the ship. No problem for us, but some folks seemed to get quite huffy about not being allowed outside. Probably because it wound up being three hours before the rescue was finally complete. While I didn't see the rescue, the Coast Guard helicopter had to make several passes before positioning itself.

While our trip to the gorgeous Margerie Glacier was delayed three hours it worked out for the best. If it wasn't for the delay, we wouldn't have seen (and felt) what eventually occurred.

The weather cleared up. Tenters and kayakers were around (a first for us to see in Glacier Bay).

The glacier was in rare form. Sunny skies? Check. Multiple calvings? Check. The first time we've ever seen so many in one visit. Look at this big calving, frame by frame. Before it started there were two tunnels. Not afterwards.
Then, a really big first. A huge collapse caused a huge wave (you can see it in the picture). That huge wave – someone called it a tsunami-looking wave – headed to the ship. And for the first time ever for us in Glacier Bay a calving glacier caused our ship to rock sideways. A strange feeling.

How do you top that? How about visiting the Johns Hopkins Glacier and capturing the magnificence of Glacier Bay. Like I said before, if you haven’t been YOU MUST GO.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 862

How can you top a day like this? Camping out on the top deck in the warm Gulf of Alaska sunshine.
Cruising to Yakutat Bay, passing beautiful high mountain peaks covered in snow.

Stopping for a look at Hubbard Glacier.
Finding that some folks tent close to the Glacier.

Finding that Scooter makes for a good shot.

Finding that the big Movies Under the Stars screen makes for a good shot.

Finding that the sun reflecting off the ocean makes for a good shot.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 861

Today is the end of the seven day cruise. It started in Vancouver, BC and ends here in Whittier, Alaska. With flights for us from Anchorage (the nearest airport) to Boise running over $500 we opted not to get off the ship. $299 each for a week on a cruise ship or a $547 each for a flight home.  We've chosen to stay on the cruise ship for the ride back.

We didn't even get off in Whittier. It’s such a small town – less than 300 people – that wasn't even an official incorporated town until 1969.
Most all cruise ship passengers get off the ship and take a bus/train to Anchorage to catch a flight out, never stopping in Whittier for anything. Anything except having to wait on their buses for the tunnel to open. That tunnel is only one way and traffics has to take turns using it. (It’s the same tunnel I drove in last year to deliver quilts. You can read what that was all about and see that tunnel pic here.) But I also took a picture of it today (from the cruise ship this time) as a reminder of what I did last year.

Even the trains were waiting their turn. I don’t know where these trucks were headed, but someone has some work planned somewhere. As for us, no work scheduled for at least the next seven days. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 860 College Fjord

More glaciers today as we entered College Fjord.

And one mountain peak.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 859

Everyone should go to Glacier Bay National Park at some point during their lifetime. There isn't anything as awe inspiring as seeing glaciers.

Unless you're talking about listening to a glacier pop and crack as it moves. And nothing as exciting as seeing it calve and drop into the ocean.

Except seeing humpback whales in their natural habitat. We ran into several pods as we left Glacier Bay today. Even more thrilling was to finally capture whales breaching. In all the trips we've made to Alaska I've never quite seen anything like these guys. Yeah, I kind of took a lot of pictures of them.

This last picture shows the part of just one of the pods of whales plus the remnants of a breach. They leave quite a splash for sure.

(If you think an Alaska cruise is out of your reach, it isn’t. We wouldn’t be doing this for the umpteenth time if it weren’t quite the bargain. Seven days, food included. $299 a person plus taxes. Go on vacation somewhere for a week or go on a cruise? It’s an obvious – you might even say financially sensible -choice for us. The trick is the timing. We book our cruise late, within a few weeks of the sail date, when they are trying to fill the ship and prices are rock bottom.)