Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Glacier Bay

Our second day of the cruise started with breakfast in the Bordeaux dining room where we shared a table with a nice couple from Tennessee. Denny and I had chosen the "Anytime" dining option which meant we could go to our assigned dining room at any time to eat and therefore we would be seated with different people everytime we ate. Some people preferred the traditional seating so they sat with the same group of people every night, but I liked the freedom of being able to eat whenever I wanted.

After breakfast we headed back to the balcony of our room to watch for whales as we approached Glacier Bay. We didn't see any breach, but we did see one spout and we saw several sea otters resting on their backs while eating a snack of fish. Of course, they were well out from the ship so my picture isn't terrific, but I have the memory even if the picture isn't crystal clear, right?We also observed some puffins floating nearby as well as these harbor seals sunning themselves on an iceberg. Denny and I decided to wander up on deck where we could wander from starboard to port on the ship. Denny had the camcorder while I had the camera and when he complained that his hands were getting cold, I walked back to our room to get our gloves and the binoculars. Naturally, that's when the ship's naturalist spotted a bald eagle on an iceberg and Denny was able to capture it on video. I haven't even had a chance to review any of that yet, but when I do I'll post that clip (if I can figure out how to snip a clip) to Y*uTube.

As the ship approached Glacier Bay a small boat bearing park rangers pulled up near the ship and two rangers boarded our cruise ship to spend the day onboard describing the sights we were to see and creating an information table in the buffet dining area where you could ask questions of the staff.One of the nice things the Princess cruise line has done is to have the microphones of whomever is giving the nature talk from the bridge fed into a private TV channel that you can pick up in your room so that you can hear the person's talk from your balcony. So when we got a bit cold, we stepped into the buffet room, picked up some hot chocolate and returned to our room to enjoy the glaciers from the comfort of our balcony. Nice!If you were in this area two hundred and fifty years ago, you would have been standing on ice because there was no bay here, simply a massive glacier that was about one hundred miles long and several thousand feet deep. Over time, the glacier retreated and the melting waters filled the huge crevasse left behind. What's left today is a few tidewater glaciers that are still dramatic to watch as they calve huge chunks of ice that become icebergs.
Studied by scientists from all over the world, Glacier National Park was named a national monument in 1925 after many years of work and nagging by plant ecologist William S. Cooper. Mr. Cooper returned to Glacier Bay year after year to observe the plant life of the area falling in love with the area, the grandeur of the land and the vast amount of information to be gleaned from the plants and animals that thrive here. John Muir was also a staunch proponent of the area and President Jimmy Carter eventually signed the papers creating Glacier Bay National Park.

Glacier Bay National Park can only be reached by boat or plane. You need special permits to travel the waterways to get to the park and some areas are restricted or forbidden if native animals are breeding, nesting or simply occupying the area so not to disturb them. There are moose, harbor seals, sea otters, humpback whales, puffins, black and brown bears and more that exist here and their habitat is carefully guarded to preserve the species.

We were told that we'd most liking see calving occur at the Margerie Glacier and indeed, we saw one large calving event and three small calvings as our cruise ship made a very slow 360 degree turn in the bay so that people who had rooms on either side of the ship could view the glacier from their balconies.
We cruised around Jaw Point, named for the jaw-dropping sight of Johns Hopkins Glacier as you rounded the point.
Johns Hopkins Glacier.
Our ship was one of the first in a period of time to be able to cruise past the Johns Hopkins Glacier as the area is a prime breeding ground for harbor seals and cruise ships have been forbidden to be in the area until the day of our arrival.

As we returned around Jaw Point we had our second view of Lamplugh Glacier.A cruise ship from another line passing in front of Margerie Glacier.After a long day of being enthralled by the vastness and grandeur of the glaciers, Denny and I met up with our Prudhoe Bay group for cocktails in Crooner's lounge, followed by a delicious meal where I tried venison for the first time (excellent!). Several of us decided to go to see the magician's act (so-so) and then we "repaired to the buffet" for desserts and coffee. What a fabulous day!

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1 comment:

Linda in New Mexico said...

And now you're sitting at Myrtle Beach sipping a Margarita and regaling us with the gorgeous Alaskan scenes.....girl I must say I envy you your adventures. Congrats on getting to MB. I hope ya'll have a super duper time. XXOO The Olde Bagg

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