Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alaska Vacation - Day Six

We woke up early the next morning because the naturalist on board had said the best time to see whales was between 6:00 and 9:00 in the morning. We were on the deck by 6:00. The view was extraordinary.

I have put tons of pictures in this post and I am not going to try to caption them all. Just enjoy the scenery.

Breakfast on the balcony. Coffee was served in glasses because they would not use any paper products, straws, lids, etc. while in Glacier Bay.

We picked up three National Park Rangers and they were narrating what we were seeing over the ship's intercom system.

People were out on their balconies in droves. You could hear people get excited if they spotted a whale or a bear. You would be glancing around trying to see where they were pointing so you could look too.

Look how calm this water is...perfect for spotting whales.

Oh, the beauty that was all around us. The weather was perfect!

There is a brown bear in this photo that I spotted with my binoculars. Just walking along the grassy edge of the shore. I was so excited.

We had room service deliver lunch to our room so we could just enjoy the scenery.

Do you see the ship in this picture. It is not a tiny ship either. I can't remember exactly but I think the captain said we were either 2 or 5 miles from shore. Regardless, we were always much farther away than it seemed.

The Captain pulled us up right along side the Johns Hopkins glacier and killed the engines so we could watch and listen for the glacier to calve. That just really means that a big hunk of ice falls off into the water.

We were a couple of miles from the glacier front. It was approximately a mile wide.

Hubby was patient enough to wait and catch this hunk of ice calving right in front of us.

We saw several hunks fall off and the thrill for me wasn't seeing it...it was hearing it. The sound was incredible. It was like a huge clap of thunder. Almost like you wanted to grab your ears and cover them.

The rangers said this particular tidewater glacier moves 7 feet a day. That is a lot for a hunk of ice this big.

We were also thrilled to hear the rangers say that it is a rare occurrence to have weather so crisp and clear in Glacier Bay. That mountain range behind the glacier is called Fairweather mountain range and it is not usually visible all the way to the top.

This is Steve. He hitched a ride on the balcony next to us for about 30 minutes. We named him and made up pretend conversations he was having with other seagulls that were flying past. "Hey Ricky, tell my mom I am riding the Golden Princess for a while."

With the boat not moving we warmed up quickly. At one point Hubby was on the balcony in just his shorts getting a little sun. I got a little sunburned, especially my lips. They are a hot mess. Still peeling today!

Jacques and his understudy.

That is ice in the water.

Waterfall. It was like Indiana Jones movie waterfall. And loud..you could hear it before you could see it.

What do you see Chip?

Word of advice...take more than one pair of binoculars.

This is the Park Rangers boat that pulled up along side ours and the rangers climbed down a ladder to get on their boat.

Pretty cool trick!

This was the one and only pod of Orca, Killer Whales, that we spotted the entire trip. They had a much taller and distinct fin than the humpback whales that were our regular neighbors.

A small fleet of old looking planes flew by our ship. Not sure where they were going on what they were doing, but it was very cool. I think there were about 12 of them.

Whales, whales, whales, whales...everywhere there were whales. So amazing.

My eyes actually hurt something fierce after scanning the horizon for hours and hours on end.

Never have I felt so blessed for the gift of sight, so that I could take in this natural wonder.

The sky turned the most spectacular color of pink as the sun was setting on our full day in Glacier Bay.

Goodbye Glacier Bay. What an honor and a thrill to be witness to one of God's most beautiful creations.

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