Friday, May 27, 2011

Mission Alaska: Glacier Bay

Thursday of our trip was like an all-day excursion enjoyed without ever leaving the ship.  When Janet and I first began planning the cruise, we knew we wanted an itinerary that included Glacier Bay National Park.  There are no roads to this wild location.  You can only reach it by plane or boat.  Together the park and preserve are roughly the size of the state of Connecticut.

To protect the environment, they only permit two cruise ships and a small number of authorized smaller vessels in a day and we reached it early.  So that we could learn and fully appreciate our surroundings, park rangers joined the Norwegian Pearl in the morning.  Their boat ran up alongside our ship and the rangers grabbed onto a ladder and climbed up to an open door.  While both vessels were still moving.  The head ranger narrated throughout the day, giving us information about the history, the ecosystem, the flora and fauna of the park while we slowly cruised its waters. 

We specifically booked a stateroom with a balcony so that we could relax and enjoy Glacier Bay at our leisure. From the time that we woke up, we were cruising by non-stop beautiful scenery.  This was the only day that we ordered room service.  We ate in between taking pictures.  It was a little chilly out on the balcony, but we were fine in sweatpants, long-sleeved shirts, our fleece jackets and light gloves.  To be on the safe side, however, we ordered a mid-morning treat of a drink the ship called an Alaskan Snow Plow.  Hot chocolate with Bailey's Irish Cream and cream de cacao.  Yep.  That took off any chill.

Here are just a few of the many pictures I shot that day.

Does everyone seen the somber old man face on the side of the mountain?  I'm sure I'm not the only one!

We were excited to see some minor glacier "calving".  Everything was so quiet that the rumble and cracking of ice echoed all around us.

You can read more about Glacier Bay National Park by clicking here.

The park rangers told us that when we were leaving the park, we should keep an eye out for wildlife.  They weren't kidding.  I took a quick trip to the spa for a massage while Janet wandered around on deck.  When we met up again in the room, she was bubbling over saying she'd seen another humpback as well as some sort of dolphin-like animals jumping around but she didn't know what they were.  Just as she was describing what she'd seen I glanced out of our cabin window and saw some for myself.  They were Dahl's porpoises.  A minute later I looked again and there was a humpback swimming alongside the Pearl. 

The endless, awe-inspiring beauty of the day was almost overwhelming.   While breathing the cleanest air that's ever gone into my lungs and feeling the crisp, cool breeze on my skin, I was humbled by our relative insignificance in the face of nature's majesty.  I was also reminded with every breath that we have a responsibility to protect this beauty we have so generously been given.

Tomorrow:  Ketchikan and our trip to Misty Fjords. 


London Mabel said...

Gorgeous pics!

(I was yelling at my cat while writing that so I almost posted: Gorgeous kitty! woops! lol)

Hope said...

Can I tell you how jealous I am? Because, seriously, so jealous!

Sitting on a balcony drinking hot cocoa and watching that amazing scenery sounds like a little slice of heaven.

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a great time. Love the pictures, Mary.
Debbie Andrews