Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 9 – Cruise on Kenai Fjords

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Warning. It was a 600 picture day.

We used another 2 for 1 coupon and took a 7 1/2 hour boat trip to see some more glaciers and a lot of wildlife. The coupon book has been a good deal. It cost us $100 and so far we have saved about $300.

I had booked the trip today because it had the best weather forecast, mostly sunny, of the days that we would be here. When we got up it looked pretty gloomy. In the afternoon the sun did come out but it was cold, especially with the wind on the boat. I basically wore what I would if I were going skiing and still there were times when it was still too chilly.

The trip goes out Resurrection Bay into the Gulf of Alaska for a short while and then into Aialik Bay to visit the face of two massive glaciers. Along the way they pause at any wildlife they find.

They warned us at the ticket booth that it could get quite rolling once we were out in the gulf. I don’t really get seasick and Jennie had bought some ginger to try and help but alas it did not.

Jennie and her ereader, while we wait.


Here is our boat and the captain. Notice all the handrails for the times it gets rough.



Going out we had a view of the beach at Seward. Our RV is in that mess somewhere.






As I said it was pretty windy.


We tried to take each other’s picture.


Our first stop was for some otters.

Next we saw some humpback whales but they didn’t do anything interesting.


We passed by Bear Glacier but it does not come right up to the water (anymore) so we didn’t go in for a look.


Some Dall porpoises came over to play and jump in the wake of the boat but they are VERY fast, only coming up for less than a second so this is all I could catch with the camera.


We ducked into this bay with some sea lions and a beautiful colour of water.


At the end of Resurrection Bay we passed this cluster of boats salmon fishing.


The waves had been building up but now that we were out in the gulf they really got rolling. They called everyone in from the bow and basically said two feet on the ground and one hand on the boat or you are going for a ride.

It really got to Jennie. They are very prepared for sea sickness. They have lots of bags and tissues and sell all the “remedies”. We should have bought some Gravol before we came because it need times to work. If you already feel sick it is really too late. Quite a few people were affected. Some just hung their heads over the back.

This girl was obviously not affected. She and her friends tried to make a game of it to see if they could stand without support and not have to move their feet. She could only last a few seconds.


Once we got into Aialik Bay things calmed down a lot but by then it was too late. We had bought the $20 upgrade to have the all you can eat salmon and prime rib dinner. They started serving it now. It was actually very good. It was the best meal I have had on one of these trips, rivaling a good restaurant. Jennie tried and ate a bit of it but there was no hope.

As it was all you can eat, Jennie she saw one guy with a slab of prime rib at least 2 inches thick.  We all had assigned tables in the cabin and went up in order. Once everyone had a chance, anyone could go back for seconds, thirds, etc. A lot of people did.

As we started to approach Holgate Glacier we started to see chunks of ice in the water. The captain avoided the big ones but she just went into the smaller ones and they would make quite a loud thud as they smashed against the steel hull.



The front face is about 800 feet tall. Notice the little dark splotch in the center at the bottom of the glacier in the pictures below. It is another boat about the size of ours.



We saw quite a few ice falls. You first hear a sound like a gun shot. These pictures are all from different occurrences.


Here is a video of a series of stills of the above ice fall.

I would have loved to see one of those pillars along the top come down.

There were interesting swirls along the edges.

The sun had really started to come out and as we moved on the water was very calm, making some nice reflections but I am not really happy with the pictures. It was a lot better in person.



Next up was Aialik Glacier. All of these glaciers are fed by the same Harding Ice Field as the Exit Glacier yesterday.


This one is even taller. The front face is about 1000 feet high. Again there is another boat in front for some scale.




Some hardy kayakers. I wondered how far they have paddled.


There were some loud cracks but no ice falls this time. We got quite close and just stared at the awesomeness. I noticed that the smaller boats can’t come as close for fear that the wave from an ice fall could swamp them.


A video that includes a small iceberg rolling over.

On the way out of the bay we got a call from another boat that there were some more humpback whales. We figured they were over by that boat but the captain got quite a surprise when one popped up right in front and then went under us. They have strict rules about what you can do and how long you can stay around the whales. She had to very quickly cut the engines.

There were three of them and they put on a good display. No jumping though. Lots of arcing, up blowing air and even a few tails.







This is what happened whenever we saw any animal.


Back out in the gulf it was still rolling. Not good for Jennie but a lot of fun for me. The captain let us stay up on the bow and said we must stay in place with two hands on the railing until she said it was ok to move around again. A few of the waves reminded me of my boat rides at the cottage.


We passed this lonely WWII outpost lookout. The soldiers had to have some serious climbing skills to get up there. Supplies were sent up via a long cable and pulley system from ships.



We crossed to the other shore of Resurrection Bay to see some puffins and more sea lions. These two were having a go at each other.


Way up at the top of this cliff was a mountain goat in the classic pose.



It started to sprinkle rain as we headed home with everyone else.


They served dessert now. Very good cheese cake, brownies and fruit, again all you can eat. I got a plate for Jennie and we brought it home.

Another amazing day. Not a perfect one for Jennie but she did manage to at least see everything.

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