Monday, June 2, 2014

alaska - third post

Thursday, 5/29: No time ashore today; instead, the ship went up Glacier Bay. As we went up the bay, we saw a glacier on the port side:

At the top of the bay, we saw a place where two glaciers almost meet. One of them is receding; its the black mass on the right - the black is from the landslides that deposit material on top of the ice, which then appears denser and darker as the ice melts). Just to the left is a glacier that is still growing at the rate of about seven feet per day.

The ice at the end falls into the bay in huge chunks, with the sound of thunder.

The ship slowly spins, so that people on every side get to see the glaciers. It does NOT proceed in a circle; it is as if there are propellers facing the sides so that the ship can spin on a axis rather than proceeding in a circle.

Scales and sizes are deceiving; it’s hard to tell how large anything is, or how close the shore is. You might be able to see a large boat in the picture above.

On the way out of the bay, Regina sighted another whale spouting. Afterwards, in the evening, we went to a show by a juggler who has been on a nationally-syndicated talent search; his name is Charles Peachock. A good juggler, a good showman, and he incorporates electronics and modern technology into his show.

It is light here late; sundown is around 9pm and sunrise around 3:30 am, but outdoors, it is light enough to read until well after 10 and when I get up about 3:00. Our sleep is all messed up.

Friday, 5/30: After a short sail, we have half a day in Ketchikan, which is disappointing, because it’s the one place we stop that has a life outside of tourism. Salmon and other fish are caught and preserved here, and some lumber is taken, and, until recently, there was a paper mill (the surrounding forest is now part of the Tongass National Forest).

Ketchikan is built on hills, and some of the streets are basically wooden stairways:

How would you like to deliver a refrigerator up there?

Houses are built around the rock that comes right down to the main street.

We went to a park that was a Depression-era work project, which provided employment for Haida, Tlingit and other native totem carvers; we saw totem poles, and a Tlingit/Haida house, and heard a number of the stories (origin myths and others) that are told in the totem poles. The Tlingit, Haida, Inuit, and other tribes did not have written language; the poles are partly about tradition and getting the stories right (although there appears to have been room for a LOT of latitude in the telling of the stories).

Then back on board the ship, after a quick shopping trip. I needed to replace a belt I broke (everything you’ve heard about cruise ships and food is true), and TEW and I found wet-weather jackets for $20 that we could not resist. TEW also found an in3expensive pair of binoculars that she says have already paid for themselves, as she was able to spot, in a tree, a bald eagle that she otherwise would have missed.

And another “dressed up for dinner” pic for my mother-in-law.

Saturday, 5/31: Well, today was a long sail from Ketchikan to Victoria, British Columbia. We docked at 6pm, and we were supposed to do separate excursions... but I came down with a GI complaint (quite dramatic, with emesis and diarrhea), so I was unable to do the electric bike tour we had planned (it’s almost a day later, and my stomach is still queasy).

Regina did do her tour of Butchardt Gardens and the city. The pics of the city from the bus didn’t come out, but many of the garden pics did.

Some thoughts about the cruise: first, it’s very hard not to overeat on a cruise; there is an abundance of different types of good food, readily available. I expect I’ve gained weight, although this stomach bug may have mitigated the problem.

Second, while the cruise was a delight, it’s time to come home. I couldn’t live like this.

Third, TEW is an excellent travel planner. I was able to enjoy this trip, asking only three questions:

  • What time do I have to take off?
  • What do I have to pack?
  • How much money do I have to bring?
We’ll be boarding the plane home in a few minutes.

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