Day 11: FALLING BACK TO NATURE
We awoke at 6:30am as it was now becoming routine to get up at this time and tend to Tahia’s needs while we would freshen up in time for brekkie. It wasn’t until Julie had read one of the paperwork left outside our door last night that we had actually fallen back one hour to be on Alaskan time. So it was now 5:30am!
And as usual, it took a while to get ready so I used this time to take some photos of god beams breaking through some of the cloud cover to provide some color to the otherwise very gray scene that had dominated the cruise both yesterday and this morning.
It wasn’t until 7:30am when we finally made it down to the Vista Dining Room (a place we had found suited our culinary needs way better than the Lido Buffet up on Deck 9), which was also becoming quite the familiar spot as we had eaten here for at least five straight meals (including a pretty decent formal night dinner last night).
During the brekkie, we had also found a pretty good and relatively healthy breakfast dish called the Frittata Italiana from the Green Spa, which was made of egg whites and sun dried tomatoes – finally something that wasn’t as fattening like Belgian Waffles, pancakes, French Toast, or any of the American or English style breakfasts. Sure we could’ve gone with Scandinavian, but our Norway experiences have told us that koldtbord brekkies were quite salty even though they can be light if you go light on the spreads and the bread.
Anyways, it was back to the room after the brekkie at a little after 8:30am. For the next couple of hours, I was spending time getting caught up on photos, which was long overdue by about a week.
Actually, it was just us freezing in the wind chill while taking a few miscellaneous shots of the landscape and a few wildlife. I had actually seen one whale (or was it a dolphin? or merely an otter?) surface then sink into the depths. When I photographed something I thought was a whale, it was actually either an otter or sea lion when I zoomed in on my captured still and saw a snout and teeth (no way it could be a whale).
The next hour or so was spent searching for another whale sighting or other worthy wildlife viewing or photographing. Some people said they saw three whales, but if it wasn’t caught on camera, it was as good as not happening at all as far as I was concerned.
Then, I noticed a small boat that caught up to the ship we were on. When the PA announcer mentioned the rangers were coming on board, I put two and two together and realized that the rangers were on that small boat and boarding our craft while both crafts were moving!
At the 12:15pm presentation by the park ranger Emma (who said she came from California before she lived in Gustavus, AK to work at Glacier Bay NP), we learned a bit about the history, the ecosystem, and the sights to see at Glacier Bay. But nothing really prepared us for what was about to transpire during the day when we got to the scenic parts of Glacier Bay.
After the presentation was up at around 12:45pm, I finally met up with Julie, her mom, and Tahia some time after 1pm, and that was when Tahia was fussing and Julie’s mom retreated back to our room.
Meanwhile, I went up to the observation deck and started to see very scenic snowy mountains with the sky clearing. I took the opportunity to capture photos of the scenic mountains as well as using another cruise ship that was already there for scale.
When Julie went back to me on the observation deck, she told me about going down to the bow of the ship on the 4th deck. Apparently, that would be the prime spot to do some nature spotting. And so we went down there.
It was about this time that another park ranger used the PA to describe what we were seeing along with other tid bits. And it also turned out that the scenic sharp snowy peaks we saw towards the front left side of the bow was just the beginning. The suddenly sudden skies also added to the effect as the mostly dreary and overcast day became sunny and mostly clear!
As the boat continued closer towards those snowy peaks, we could start to see a dirty glacier called Reid Glacier. But then we saw the Lamplugh Glacier, which was well hidden until the boat finally passed in front of it as it entered the Johns Hopkins Inlet.
The Lamplugh Glacier exhibited pretty white and blue pinnacles as well as an ice cave. It was definitely the most scenic glacier we had seen so far and we had spent lots of time trying to take photos of it while avoiding the heads and arms of other people in the way at the same time.
Towards the turnaround point of the journey into Johns Hopkins Inlet, we saw the Johns Hopkins Glacier against the sun. It was nowhere near as photogenic as the Lamplugh Glacier, but the overall scene was pretty nonetheless.
Eventually, the boat reached the end of the Tarr Inlet near the Grand Pacific Glacier, which was a dirty glacier. But the real story was its neighboring glacier, which was the scenic Marjerie Glacier. Like the Lamplugh Glacier, this one also had jagged white pinnacles, but this one was also actively calving, which we could hear the thundering from the crashing ice as well as some of the pieces spilling into the Tarr Inlet.
The narration stopped when we were in front of the Marjerie Glacier, and the boat pretty much parked there for the next half-hour to an hour. That afforded us time to take lots of photos while also trying to get lucky capturing the glacier face calf right in front of us.
We were also taking some people photos whenever Tahia was awake enough to do so.
So while Julie and her mom were giving Tahia a bath, I took the time to go out to our balcony and take a few more photos as well as movies. And that was when I was able to capture a pair of glacier calvings on video. Unfortunately when the cruise pulled away, I missed the last big calving when a huge triangular piece calved off.
It’s amazing how Nature could make us forget about the cruise environment and allow us to get lost in its beauty. Of course the weather clearing right when we got to the scenic part of Glacier Bay helped a lot, too!
And in this case, we saw a convergence of glaciers unlike we had ever seen before. We had seen places like the Perito Moreno Glacier, the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, the Icelandic Glaciers including Skaftafellsjokull and the lagoon at Jokulsarlon, and the Norwegian Glaciers including Briksdalsbreen and Nigardsbreen. Yet the beauty of this place and its more-or-less intact ecosystem could easily move anyone appreciative of its majesty and grandeur to tears. In our case, it lifted our spirits and made it seem like the two days of sea-sickness-inducing rocking along with being prisoners on the ship was worth the trouble…