Sunday, July 7, 2019

Best Vacation Ever: Alaska Day 7

A nice normal wake up today, 7 a.m., by our guide for the day Josh I (there will be another Josh on Day 9-11).

Josh drove us to Seward, a huge fishing, cruise, and sightseeing boat port. We were joined by four gentlemen, friends from Atlanta, on the Glacier Express by Major Marine Tours to see the glaciers and hopefully whales. As we boarded, the Captain asked what we wanted to see...Sea Otters high on my list and we saw this little guy early in the voyage.

The voyage included an "all you can eat lunch " which made it a strange combination of Old Country Buffet and National Park Ranger narrated sightseeing cruise. This is a major way to access the Kenai Fjords National Park, so Maya, a Park Ranger, educated the group about the geography, fauna, and flora of this vast area.
Most everyone took Dramamine or some other anti-nausea med. We had to cross some bumpy water before we got to the first glacier. Unfortunately, that meant many of the passengers were sleeping when we saw our Sea Otter and humpback whales!

While we also visited the Holgate Glacier, this photo is of the beautiful Aialik Glacer. You can see all the ice in the water. Chunks of ice fall off the glacier as it moves and warms...called calving. The boat could only get so close due to this ice. Staff scooped up a chunk of the glacial ice and for glacier margaritas. No, didn't have one:)

Glaciers have a gorgeous blue tone...when glacial ice first freezes, it is filled with air bubbles. As that ice gets buried and squashed underneath younger ice on top, the older ice starts to take on a blue tinge. As the ice grows denser, the bubbles become smaller and smaller.
Without the scattering effect of air bubbles, light can penetrate ice more deeply. Glacial ice acts like a light filter, absorbing red and yellow light and reflecting blue light, creating the beautiful blue hues of a glacier.  WHO KNEW?
We didn't eat lunch until 2 p.m. Prime rib, salmon, salad, rice. Very good. We were the last table in the first round, and then a lot of people lined up for seconds (and thirds). This did not work out so well for them. Around 2 - 3 p.m., the boat turned and went back through the big wave section after receiving a report of an Orca sighting. 
The Dramamine had clearly worn off. Enough said. Luckily our group did not suffer any sea sickness. 
The Orca family group was beautiful. It's hard to catch a full photo. One breached just as we were leaving, and of course I didn't have camera in hand. We also cruised by puffins nesting on island cliffs, but again we weren't close enough for my lens to capture a clear image, and they are fast little flyers! Here are seals sleeping on the rocks, with the blue glacial tint to the surrounding water. 
Josh ferried his exhausted group back to the lodge, where we learned Augie would again be our guide for our final lodge-based adventure day. Kayaking tomorrow!

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