Sunday, September 7, 2008

Glacier Bay and getting ready to leave our ship tomorrow

It’s Sunday and our last day on board our cruise. We have had two days at sea, yesterday experiencing the beauty and wonder of Glacier Bay, and today heading for College Fjord (though we are not there yet at the time of this writing). Glacier Bay has the world’s highest concentration of tidewater glaciers and is the habitat for many varieties of marine life, though, unfortunately, we did not see any other than a lone eagle perched on the glacier and some seagulls flying by. We picked up two rangers from the National Park Service early in the morning and they provided us with a commentary about the glaciers and the national park throughout the day. We stopped for an hour at the Margerie Glacier, which is about one mile wide, with an ice face 250 feet high above the waterline, and a base about 100 feet below sea level. At this glacier, we were fortunate to see several small “calvings” and one decent sized one. Calving is the term for the phenomenon that occurs when the salt water melts part of the glacier and big pieces of ice crack off the face. It definitely makes a loud cracking sound as the ice breaks away and rushes into the water. I caught a quick video and will try to upload it but that may have to wait till we get to Anchorage. What an amazing and unusual experience to be in the presence of these gigantic glaciers out in the middle of nowhere! We also passed the Johns Hopkins Glacier as we moved further along our route. We were told that visitors have been coming to Glacier Bay since the 1880’s when John Muir’s vivid descriptions enchanted adventurers and brought them to this place. The National Park and Preserve contains over 3.3 million acres of forest, inlet and shore, mountain peaks rising up to 15,000 feet and 12 tidewater glaciers.

We had breakfast yesterday with a couple of guys from London, one a lawyer and one a film producer. So now we have another film to look for (#1 “Papers,” #2 “Police State Blues,” #3 “The Watchman.”) They noted that they reserved the cruise at the last minute and free internet was “thrown in.” I was NOT pleased to hear that! I told Rich we will definitely have to check out those possibilities next time.

Yesterday was a lazy day; we did some reading and wandering around the ship. It started out cloudy, foggy and cold but the sun showed up eventually. We had dinner next to some people from Arkansas; the guy was a former AF officer and commercial pilot, now retired. They took Rich’s card, just in case they ever want to come to Dutch Harbor.  Later, we went to see a magician/comedian. We were going to go gambling after going back to change our clothes (it was dress up night again) but we fell asleep instead. Yes, we are on the old fogies cruise.

It’s been peaceful and relaxing today; we have already packed up because we have to have our suitcases outside our cabin before dinner and we have to meet our group at 6:20 in the morning to disembark and get on the train for Anchorage! WHAT??!! Rich was going to go to a culinary demonstration and a tour of the kitchen, but by the time he got there, all of the seats were full. We had to laugh that the culinary event was more crowded than the comedian’s show. Rich was the high qualifier for a blackjack tournament today but, in the end, came away with only a T-shirt reading “Princess Players Club.” He’s not sure how often he will be wearing that one. He also had a bittersweet moment the other night when he hit a royal flush on video poker, something he claims he has waited 35 years to accomplish. However, although he almost ALWAYS bets the max, this time he did not. He won $400 and couldn’t stop thinking about “what might have been” if he had bet the max instead. Poor baby.

Today we finally made it to Afternoon Tea, which I have been wanting to do every day, but there was always something conflicting with it. We enjoyed tea, pastries, and the company of several other couples. It’s such a small world, as we keep finding out. One guy was retired AF and was stationed at McGuire at the same time that Rich and I were teenagers there. Another couple live in San Antonio, where my sister and family live. Of course, everyone thinks it’s amusing and then interesting that we actually live in Alaska and are taking an Alaskan cruise. We have explained Unalaska/Dutch Harbor many times on this trip.

Top Five Questions about Living in Unalaska:
Aren’t you close to Russia?
How do you stand the cold?
What do you do in the winter time?
How do you deal with the long hours of darkness?
Are you a fisherman/woman?

Tomorrow we take the train from Whittier to Anchorage and we will be there till we fly back home on Sept. 10. What a great vacation!

Okay, after trying for awhile to upload photos, I am giving it up till we get to Anchorage tomorrow. You will just have to check in with me then so you can see the glaciers. :)


Susan said...

What an exciting trip! It sounds like a peaceful and fun time, and hopefully, you got to actually "vacate" and get some rest. Hard to believe you are about to go home again. Maybe you will get lucky and win a trip to St. Paul Island to see what is all messed up by now. :)


Gigi said...

It's been great, very relaxing and restful. Not sure I want to go back to work and craziness. :)

Betty said...

You've certainly had an interesting trip even though you are not fisherman/woman, deal with the darkness and the wintertime in sunny Unalaska! LOL! Welcome Home!