A lovely day

Today, nothing happened.

Really, it was kind of uneventful. The seas calmed down, we cruised around some pretty places, and now it’s night. This was another full day on the ship, which means we’ve been at sea for two and a half days. We’ve gone waaaay far north in one uninterrupted run, and from now on we’re basically working our way back south.

The reason we went as far north as we did was to visit Glacier Bay National Park, which is, I believe, the only US national park that you can’t access by land. We sailed up to Johns Hopkins bay, home of Johns Hopkins glacier, and the crew was kind of excited about that because they’ve never been before! Seriously, that bay is off-limits until September because it’s a protected breeding ground for some sort of marine animal…seals, or sea lions or, I don’t know, walruses or something.

(The string quartet in the Explorer’s Lounge where I’m writing this just started playing My Heart Will Go On. Given that we saw icebergs today, that’s ominous.)

The point is, this is the first time this year that they’ve been allowed to cruise into this bay, and it sounds like this crew, including the captain, hasn’t ever done it before. Which was kind of neat, because you could see some of the crew members were kind of excited about it.

Anyway, it was astounding. Just completely beautiful. We saw two glaciers, one fairly close up, and rising directly from the shores on either side of the ship were untouched mountains of red rock and green trees and long narrow cascades of water. Ice floes from the glaciers were all around us, with sea lions riding them. The silence was broken by the occasional thundering roar of the glaciers, as they shifted and cracked and calved into the bay. The scene was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I totally blew my “100 pictures a day” photo budget, so if I suddenly stop taking pictures around day 5, you know why. I’ve only got so much storage space, after all.

It’d be worth it, though, because just as we were approaching Johns Hopkins Bay, a totally unexpected thing happened: the clouds broke, the drizzle stopped, and we had blue sky and sunshine for the photos. The captain previously warned us that the weather in Alaska at this time of year is basically wet (“They have three nice days every year, and they’ve already had two”), so some half-decent light for photos was a nice surprise,

It was still absolutely cold, though. The winds varied between almost zero and gusts of what must have been over 80 km/h, it rained on occasion, and because I couldn’t stop taking pictures I spent about four hours out there. I probably won’t warm up properly until June.

Of course, one challenge in a situation like this is finding somewhere to take pictures from. Astoundingly, I did. I found one little deck on the bow of the boat, at the front of deck 9, that was long and narrow and unsheltered and had nowhere to sit, but was only accessible by one out-of-the-way door, and it seemed almost nobody else knew it was there. While everyone was fighting for elbow room, we had an entire peaceful silent deck to ourselves.

For about half an hour. Then others started to arrive, one or two at a time, but steadily. That’s when we realized that this deck was directly in front of – and visible from – one of the most popular locations on the boat: the Crow’s Nest on deck 10. That has the same view, but from comfy chairs indoors where you can enjoy a drink. Someone confirmed that, yes, they could see us from there, and once people saw that there was a public deck there, they hunted around until they figured out how to get on to it.

Still, the lack of any attempt to make the deck comfortable meant that only a certain subset of the ship’s passengers were interested in hanging around, so it was still one of the best places on the ship to watch and photograph from. I’m sure I’ll be back on it later.

Now, for all this talk, you’ll note that there aren’t a lot of pictures here. That’s because I need to be online to add pictures to my posts, and that uses up my limited supply of Internet minutes. Tomorrow, we’re in Juneau – allegedly the capital city of Alaska – and if I find some free (or even cheap) wifi there, I’ll try to post more pics.

What else? Hmm… We didn’t defend our title at trivia, coming in second or maybe third. We saw an actually-quite-good stage magician tonight. We were too late to reserve our usual table for dinner, so we got a different table and a different waiter and honestly pretty poor service. The northernmost point of our trip today was just a hair further north than Churchill so I’ve set a new personal record for farthest distance travelled north. The seas calmed right down (though for a while in the morning I thought they were calm, then realized I was just used to it). We saw some orcas and (probably) porpoises, all from a distance. “Probably Porpoises” sounds like a cheesy family movie. I can’t figure out where the drinks waiter in this lounge went and I want a Coke (there’s a first-world problem for you).

Can’t really think of anything else. It was a quiet day. Try again tomorrow, maybe something exciting will happen. We get to go on land!

(Thrilling conclusion: the drinks guy eventually showed up and I got my Coke.)

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Posted on September 7, 2011, in travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Love the thrilling conclusion. While I was reading this, Nik walked in (his video had finished). He looked at the photos, deduced what I was looking at, and said with a wail, “But -I- wanted to go on that boat!”

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