Saturday, May 31, 2014

Alaska: Day Six - Stephen's Passage & Dawes Glacier

On Day Six, our ship went up into Stephen's Passage.  

from here

Our captain told us that he decides based on weather conditions which fork of the passage to go up to give the best view of glaciers, and he chose the Endicott arm in our case, so we got to see the Dawes Glacier (and another one that I didn't discover the name of).

I wore this:

Stephen's Passage

We got up much earlier than we did most of the other days because the captain said that we'd be closest to the glacier around 7:30 am.  So we hopped right up and got dressed and went up to the deck to eat breakfast and LOOK!

My sweet Mom in front of a glacier (not Dawes Glacier)

As the ship cruised up the canal, we saw icebergs in the water.

Some of the icebergs were amazingly BLUE!

There were waterfalls everywhere

and the water was very smooth.

Further up, the water was a beautiful bluey-green color 
(because it's silty freshwater meltoff from glaciers and snow)

Then we got to a smallish bay-like area where it didn't seem as if the ship could go any farther.
The captain kept the ship in the same spot for 30 minutes or so and made the ship just spin in a circle so everyone could see everything on all sides.  There were glaciers on more than one side, beautiful shiny (thanks to ice and water runoff!) rock walls, and rushing waterfalls.  It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

the blue in between the mountains is a glacier

And suddenly, there was Dawes Glacier! 

 This photo should give you some sense of the size of this beast.
We weren't really close enough to touch it, though it sort of looks in this photo as if we were.

Shiny rock walls

Dawes Glacier with reflections and grass rocks

Rugged, steep mountains with fog

Another glacier (between the mountains) with a rushing stream

Close-up of the stream

Shiny rock walls with reflections in the water

Are the rocks made of glass?!

After the ship spun slowly around for a while, the captain steered us back down Stephen's Passage towards Ketchikan.  We didn't get tired of looking or taking photos!


There was even an iceberg shaped like a heart!

me with icebergs

It was chilly, though (probably in the low 40s), so I had some hot tea

Dawes Glacier in the background

here you can see me, the beautiful water, and some landscape rushing by

As we were getting out of the Passage, we noticed a strange line in the water . . . 

Even the texture of the two waters seemed different.

It was fresh glacial runoff meeting salty sea water!

Then it was time to get ready for dinner.

I wore a yellow dress.

It was another formal night, and our server had conferred with me beforehand to arrange a "happy anniversary" celebration for my parents (this trip is to celebrate their 45th anniversary - what a milestone!)
The servers are amazing - he happened to hear us saying that this was an anniversary trip and he brought it up to me secretly and came up with the whole plan.  Thanks, Evangelisto!

There was a small cake with a candle and some singing.

Evangelisto also made a rose out of a napkin as a gift.

Another server made some fun napkin origami items for us.

I got a boot!

Cora got Speedy Gonzales!
And when Jillian tried to take him away, Cora grabbed him and clasped him tight.  She loved him!

This night, I tried Baked Alaska for dessert!  
Under the cream, I found three different flavors of ice cream - yum!

I also had a strawberry moussey thing which was extremely good.

We had some photos taken.
Can you pick out my parents and Jillian and Cora across the rotunda?

That was Day Six!
See you tomorrow for our visit to Ketchikan!

Bonus photo for today: the vacuums used on the ship!
Doesn't this little guy make you happy?

Alaska: Day Five - Skagway

We started out Day Five by disembarking and wandering around the lovely town of Skagway.

It was a chilly day (in town, around 48 . . . as we went up into the mountains in the train, it got colder and the rain got thicker!)

I wore this outfit -

with my red trench coat as a topper.
And I was very thankful for the layers and the waterproofing!

It turns out that the rubber soles on these amazing (and highly recommended!) Target shoes were fantastic in all the rain!!!  In fact, I'm going to order the pink pair, too.
Women's Mad Love® Lottie Boatshoes - Assorted Colors

Time to leave the ship!

A rainy and cloudy harbor.  Beautiful!

In town, we found this little monument about the Tlingit (basically pronounced "clink-it") language and names of things in the area.  Our favorites were

* "Nostril of Rock Point" 
* "Puking Into"


There was a park with some old trains in it, and we got to see this amazing snow-remover grinder that the trains used during the winter.

We found some hilarious t-shirts in the stores.
This one we appreciated, but didn't buy.

This one we appreciated and Greg bought!

There was scrimshaw art (carvings and etchings made out of whale bones) in many of the shops.
You can see us in the window reflection!  It was pouring rain this whole day - lovely!

The clouds came down to the city.

The residents appear to be hilarious!

After lunch, it was time for our excursion: a ride on the White Pass Scenic Railway!

Also known as the YR&WP Railway.

Something I love about Skagway is the grafitti on the rocks near the harbor.  It's mostly from ship crews who have been to Skagway.  Some of it is from people who've visited.  

And then there's this skull, which is a reminder of Soapy Smith, a criminal.
He's remembered because he was a terrible criminal.  He died in a famous shoot-out against Frank Reid in 1898.  His last words were, "My God, don't shoot!"

We didn't get clear shots of the Skagway cemetary because of the movement of the train, the fog, and the rain, but it was cool, so I found you a good photos:
click here for reference

The train runs right down into the harbor area - convenient!

We boarded (the very last car) and looked at the map.  We realized we were going to travel into Canada, but since we weren't allowed off the train, we didn't need our passports.

The train had a small little bathroom (chilly!)

The further we went, the cloudier and colder it got.

My hair got pretty wet from standing out on the little platform at the back of the train car, so it went into braids (that's the best option for hair as straight as mine)

 We saw Bridal Veil Falls.

And went over some amazing bridges . . . 
love how this one disappears into the mist.

This cute little caboose can be rented from the Forest Service for $35/night as a campsite!

There is a cairn on this rocky riverbank - wonder if it's a remembrance to someone or if there's a hiking trail that meanders there?

This is called the Ghost Bridge

I loved looking at the outlines of the pine trees fading out into the mist.

As thousands of men climbed up to search for gold, many of their pack horses died or were killed.
The men threw them in the gulch.  There are more than 3000 horse corpses down there.

There were too many rivers and streams to count.

The little platform at the back of the train car was not very big!
yes, my socks have teensy anchors on them!

The train doesn't have much room on the sides - 
the rocks were very close to the train cars as we rushed by.

Going around curves made me appreciate more how beautiful the scenery is AND how difficult it must've been to build this railway (at first I typed "rainway" - that seems appropriate!)

We got a list of flora that grows in the area.

The train engine had a native Raven on it.

Much of the railroad was lined by granite walls.

And every once in a while, there would be a delightful little waterfall.

As we neared the end of the line, the visibility got worse.


On the way down, the train seat backs flip over backwards so all the seats face the opposite way, and suddenly our train car was the last one instead of the first one!

I spent almost the entire return trip out on the little platform because the rain had gotten thicker and so had the mist.  Visibility and photography were better without the fog and raindrops on the windows.
I got very wet and chilly and I loved it!

Thankfully, the train car had a little stove!

That stove and I become close during the interludes we had together!

One smiling Christie = excursion HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
It's lovely for a desert girl to be cold and wet from the rain!

Time to get dressed for dinner (after a HOT TUB experience and a HOT shower!)

I didn't have time to dry my hair with the lousy blow dryer in our room, so I put it up into a twisty cinnamon bun sort of arrangement.

Cora enjoyed sitting in the window again.
She looks cozy and cuddly!

Here is the bread course (gluten-free!)  My favorite was the fluffier white bread.

My appetizer:

My entree (chicken au jus with vegetables - yum!)

After dinner, we saw whales in the harbor!

Greg saw this one (probably hunting around in the harbor, because she stayed in the area for a couple of hours) from our cabin earlier, too, while I was getting ready for dinner.  

Here's some video (even with a tail fluke flap!)

What a great way to end Day Five!

See you tomorrow for the Tracy Arm Fjords and the Dawes Glacier!