To Alaska & Back
August 6, 2011 § 12 Comments
Part of my blogging break was spent on a cruise to Alaska. (And the other part was just trying to get caught up on work so that I could relax on the cruise) I was surprised by how much I liked Alaska. While the cruise was nice, I really want to go back without the restrictions of a cruise! So, here are some of the highlights…
Above is the Margerie Glacier ~ one of a handful of tidewater glaciers that reach down to the water. It is about a mile wide and I think the ranger said that the highest points of some of the spires are as tall as a 20 story building above water. We didn’t see much calving ~ where pieces of ice break off and fall into the water. There were a couple of small chunks but for the most part uneventful. The spires and crevasses were spectacular though!
We saw all sorts of water wildlife. But to the disappointment of my husband… no bears, moose, and dangerous land wildlife. Above is a pod of Humpback Whales bubble net feeding. Our guide said that this is a learned behaviour and not an instinct. Only the the humpback whales in Juneau, AK do this. The pod of whales swim in a circle creating bubbles like a net that trap the small fish that they eat in the center of the circle. At the very last minute all the whales in the pod open their mouths and jump straight up out of the water swallowing as many fish as possible. The seagulls follow the pod to also eat any of the fish leftover that the whales didn’t get. You can spot a pod getting ready to bubble net fish when the flock of seagulls start dipping down towards the water. It was fascinating!
We had originally wanted to take a helicopter ride out to the Mendenhall Glacier to see the dog sled teams. But the weather fogged us out and we decided to go whale watching instead. I have to say that it was probably the highlight of the trip for me. We’ll have to go dog sledding another time. I’ve been dying to head to Churchill, Canada (or somewhere near there) to see some Polar Bears. My friends give me a hard time about always wanting to go to cold weather parts of the world rather than the tropics. But laying on a beach sounds boring to me. I’d much rather be out paddling in a kayak or riding a mountain bike.
On a side note… did you know what a Cinnamon Bear was? It’s most likely the product of a Polar and a Grizzly bear mating. I didn’t know either. We didn’t see any of those either.
We also went sea kayaking in Sitka. Gary was hoping to see a bear on shore from the kayak, but instead we saw lots of starfish and bald eagles, a couple of sea lions and some beautiful scenery. Do you remember the movie The Proposal? It was supposed to take place in Sitka, AK. Well, it was actually filmed in Maine and only one small shot of the mountain range surrounding Sitka was inserted in the film. Our guide said that the mayor of Sitka voted against letting the movie producers shoot the movie there.
And we ziplined in Ketchikan. Again, Gary was hoping to see a bear since we were zipping over the Bear Creek. But no luck. Just more eagles. Which were beautiful, by the way… but not a bear.
There are a few more pictures over on my Flickr account. I’ll spare you the other 100 photos of whales, mountains and cruise shots. In Juneau there were 5 cruise ships docked at the same time and it was more crowded than the city at rush hour. Not very conducive to the beautiful scenery. But we did tour the Alaskan Brewing Company. In the last few years they have added a CO2 recovery system, a mash filter press and grain dryer for better use of resources and preservation of the environment. It was interesting.
It was a great trip! And it’s good to be home. Even though the ground still feels like it is swaying like the ship. (The first night at sea was rough. But it got better after that.) And there are piles of laundry to do. We would love to fly up to Alaska sometime and just hang out in the beautiful mountains and just soak it all up. While the cruise ship is an easy way to see a wide variety of things, it’s hard to really soak in all the beautiful wilderness.
And thank you for all the lovely & gracious comments on my last post! I always love to hear about what you think and would like to see more of. I’ll see what I can do about putting together a few tutorials and maybe another quilt along. Surely there is another antique quilt in one of my books that would be fun to update and make. Big hugs to everyone.