Whale And Wildlife Watching Quest

October 6, 2007

Probably the best day on our ramble through Alaska was the shore excursion to watch whales. Okay, it seems a little strange to call it a shore excursion when we went right back out to sea, but we did switch modes of transportation and got off the big ship and onto a much smaller waterjet-powered catamaran.

We started by disembarking at Juneau, and boarding a bus to head for Auke Bay. Our bus driver was chatty and full of all kinds of information about Alaska. He would have made a good advocate for the Chamber of Commerce. When he talked about the climate, which isn’t the glacial cold you’d expect due to the fact it’s a temperate rainforest along the shoreline, it made the area sound like a great place to live.

He mentioned the money every citizen gets each year from the revenue off the oil fields in Alaska. He mentioned all the wildlife to be found. He had good things to say about the area… until he mentioned some of the costs of living. Aye yi yi! So much is so expensive because it has to be shipped – housing, food, gas… the prices are exorbitant! Guess I’ll stay in the south instead of moving to the far north.

The catamaran we traveled on had two decks. The bottom and part of the top were enclosed, but for the really good pictures, you needed to be out on the open deck. Of course, it was COLD out there. I said it doesn’t get as cold as you’d expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not downright chilly out on the water in September!

I went inside from time to time to check on Dad and get warm, but most of the time I was out there taking pictures of the wildlife and scenery. And such sights!

We had barely left the dock until we had Orca Whales on both sides of the boat. The guide said it’s not as common to see them, so I guess we got lucky. Further out we saw lots of humpback whales, sometimes half a dozen at a time. It was AMAZING.

The only thing that could have made it better would have been a whale or two breaching, and even “more better” would have been getting a picture of it!

We also saw a lot of seals and eagles and other birds. And the scenery was breathtaking almost everywhere you looked.


If you’re ever in Alaska, take every chance you get to check out the wildlife, and of course, the scenery too. It’s positively awe-inspiring.

I’d head north again today if I could!

Cruising Glacier Bay In Alaska

September 22, 2007

Awe-inspiring. Stunning. Wondrous. Magnificent. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe Glacier Bay.

Did you know Glacier Bay is a national park? Further, it is a World Heritage Site, “the principal recognition given to natural and cultural areas of universal significance.” It can only be reached by boat or plane. When a cruise ship enters Glacier Bay they take on at least one Park Ranger, who gives a running commentary on what there is to see.

Obviously, there are glaciers. Since these touch water, they are all “Tidewater Glaciers.” The park includes around 12 that calve into the bay. Unfortunately, though we sat in front of a couple of them for half an hour or so, we didn’t get to see that spectacular phenomenon.

We saw birds and seals,

but otherwise, it was a landscape on a grandiose scale.

The mountains of the Fairweather Range are huge.

It’s hard to get a perspective on how truly monumental they are. We got a clue when we got close to one glacier, saw a cruise ship that was still a mile away from the glacier and it looked dwarfed, and were told we were still 7 miles away.

As you can see, it was a big ship. It just looked small next to the glacier.

Glacier Bay is truly natural beauty on an awe-inspiring scale.