It really was an amazing sight to see, particularly as the world’s ice is disappearing at alarming rates. (Did you read that later this summer the North Pole will likely be devoid of ALL ice??? Also, the penguins are becoming sick and endangered, which saddens me to no end. And damn, am I just a bucket of cheer today. Global warming, you can stop now, please and thanks.) We did witness a massive chunk of the glacier break off and fall into the ocean far below. It was quite surreal to see in person, but apparently my catlike camera reflexes weren’t so catlike in Alaska, as I failed to capture it on film.
What was possibly the coolest thing of all was all the whale-watching we got to do. One of the many excursions you could book at each port of call was a whale-watching day, but my mom had been told you saw so much wildlife from the boat that there was no need to do this. And she was right. I’ve never had much luck when it comes to spotting whales (with my overall propensity for things to go wrong, you’re shocked, I’m sure): There was the time in Iceland when I went on a trip with a company with a 99 percent success, and as fortune would have it, my day fell within the one percent margin of error. Then, when SVV and I were in Hawaii last year, during whale mating season, everyone but me caught glimpses of humpbacks breaching every time they looked out at the ocean. I maybe saw a splash or two (but I’d ooh and ahh with the rest of them, just so they didn’t think I was all Helen Keller). Luckily, July 2008 was my time at last. The day we cruised Glacier Bay, we saw no less than 50 humpbacks and gray whales. The final day, after we re-entered the Pacific, we were greeted by three pods of orcas in high numbers. Those entire days, our whole group just sat on the Lido deck and gazed out intently from the floor-to-ceiling windows; it was quite the crowd pleaser. Not five minutes would pass without a sea otter or seal swimming by. My mom and Justin even saw four puffins float by on a piece of ice; as I’m a HUGE puffin aficionado, I’m still bummed I missed this warm-and-fuzzy spotting.
So, if you do go to Alaska, don’t pass up on Glacier Bay. The cities themselves weren’t much to marvel at (more on that to come), but the ice formations were truly spectacular, for lack of a more descriptive adjective. It actually wasn’t even that cold: After working out, I went on the deck in a tank and shorts and was fine for a good half hour (granted, we were there right after the solstice, so it was the warmest–and lightest–time of year). But it was funny to see all these wusses fully cloaked in wool hats, mittens and blankets when it probably wasn’t any cooler than mid-50’s out (they’ve clearly never visited San Fran in “summer”). And with that, more pictures: