- Age Range: 9 – 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 – 7
- Series: World of Tens
- Hardcover: 164 pages
- Publisher: Annick Press (April 11, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1554518768
- ISBN-13: 978-1554518760
Glacier Bay is a step back into complete solitude ready for viewing the untouched nature. As you cruise into the bay area, one of the first things you see are the hanging glaciers. These are the round areas up in the mountains. They hang over the sides of the mountain with no hopes of reaching the shore. The trip into the bay is silent. On occasion, you hear a bird fly overhead, or the splash of a bird landing on the sea to feed, but for the most part, it is gliding silently, surrounded by the most amazingly large snow capped mountains. The water changes as you approach the glaciers, it becomes a gray blue and you can tell that it is absolutely freezing below the surface.
After a day at sea, we docked bright and early on Sunday morning in Juneau, Alaska and here I was about to step foot on my most distant destination to date. I had been to the shore of Washington before, as a small child, but this, this was a huge step.
The clouds lay on the tops of the mountains winding down to the shore. The waterfalls streaming down the mountainside. The vividly painted buildings that lined the dock. It was a spectacular welcome to the 49th state. The last 24 hours had been filled with one new experience after another. Whale spouts, spinner dolphins, endless sea, dinner at the Captain’s table, and now, the historic dock of Juneau. I watched the machinery on the dock preparing the gangplank for the cruisers to disembark and wander into the town. My sister and I ran up to the Lido Deck and chose a few muffins to tide us over while we spent the day sightseeing and exploring. I actually think my sister had a nice healthy breakfast, I was into carbs like there was no tomorrow during this cruise. I tend to limit them every day as a rule, but I refused to resist them while on vacation.
We had two expeditions planned for the day and we watched as the buses pulled up to take us away. today, we were taking one of those buses to the whale watching excursion and afterward we were heading to Mendenhall glacier. The announcement came that it was time to head out. we were so excited. We grabbed our camera’s raincoats and got in line to leave the Westerdam.
Getting neighboring seats we started off on the wet, twisting roads out of town and along the shoreline before heading into the dense treeline on our way to a bay where the whale watching touring company was located. While heading out of town, we were given interesting and in-depth information about the first settlers of this historic town. The tour guide on the bus regaled us with the difficulties of getting products into this isolated area. The prices were amazing to hear and the fact that everything had to be brought in on ships, was hard to imagine. I found there are only three ways to enter Juneau, by ship, by plane, and by the birth canal. 🙂 Now you have heard the best joke of the day.
Once we boarded the double decker boat we were offered refreshments as we quickly sped across the bay and out into the open sea once again. The captain and crew kept us informed about whale activity and assured us that the whales were out there and we would make some memories today. It was such an exciting time. The large boat slowed and we began to see the little black dots that were in fact whale backs silently breaking the surface of the choppy water. The
And then, they showed up, close! A mother and her baby. Swimming close to the boat so that we could make a memory that would never leave us. We watched the mother and calf as they bobbed up and over then back down into the water. Graceful and magical, I had seen something so wonderous on my first day in Alaska. We were fortunate as the migration to Hawaii had begun and the mothers and calves left first. Over the moon, just doesn’t capture my emotion.
The boat left this area once the two slowed their surfacing and the captain got notification of another sighting. Again we zoomed across the churning water. Once again we were rewarded by a brave and daring whale that was curious enough to come close.
One of my most prized possessions, this cameo of a killer whale. The captain believed this to be a male that had not yet begun his migration. He slipped into the water easily yet, there was no breaching. That would have been amazing, but I was thrilled with the contact I had been given. After several hours seeking and viewing killer whales, we returned to the dock and began the second leg of our excursion.
Back on the bus, we headed deeper into the woods, winding our way to the Mendenhall Glacier.
Mendenhall glacier was a chance to get closer to a glacier than I would have believed. As we pulled into the parking area, we left the bus and were able to walk down to the lake that was right in front of the glacier.
Above on the right, the observation area and museum sat towering over us. First, we went to the edge of the lake and took a few special pictures. There is a man standing closer than we were. He is wearing a blue shirt. I never figured out how he got there. There is a waterfall hidden off to one side. The size and beauty of this glacier, simply overwhelming. That is a constant theme in Alaska, everything is larger than anything I have ever seen before.
After spending the hours on shore, we were exhilarated and exhausted at the same time. It was the most amazing feeling. We still had dinner before we would call the evening done. That was where I saw the most amazing and unique sight.
This is the yacht, My Sky. It has been traveling all around the northern hemisphere since I saw it one year ago in Juneau. I keep up with it on MarineTraffic.com. I shared this picture last year on the MarineTraffic website, so others could see what a beautiful ship she is. We were dining when I saw this outside the dining room window. I raced to get a picture of it. It was massive and beautiful. It touched me with its starkness and modernness. This ship was impeccable. I am in love. My Sky is now on the Eastern Shore of America, slowly moving up and down the coast, from New York to Baltimore.
Next stop, Glacier Bay!
August 1st is tomorrow, and that brings back memories of last August. The week in my life, I will never forget. My sister, my wonderful, loving , sweet, and giving sister, provided me a vacation I will never stop thinking about. I remember the details as if they occurred last week. It was a surprise, she did not mention the gift she planned to celebrate our birthdays. Her birthday is in September, mine, in November.
She planned a cruise to Alaska. My first cruise, my first trip out of the country and my first time being able to view the magnificence of Alaska.
She flew me into Seattle and we spent a whirlwind day sightseeing that beautiful city. I visited the Fish Market, yes, I saw them throw fish. It was an adventure, and we had not even left dry land. I saw where Harry met Sally, I stood right against the needle tower. No way was I zooming to the top of that tower. It was gigantic. I rode on a tram. Viewing the sculptures of the Weiss Manfredi , Olympic Sculpture was breathtaking. We skimmed the edges and saw towering sculptured trees in vibrant color and unique textures. It was outstanding. My visit to Seattle was a whirlwind, moreover, it was spectacular.
My cheeks ached from smiling. We ate at a restaurant right where the fishing boats dock. It was so nice to walk the pier seeing the larger ships as they came in from a day out at sea. I am a homebody. I rarely leave my own driveway. I was now on the West coast about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. After walking all over Seattle and returning to the Executive suite, I slept well even though I knew I had to get up early and begin the embarkation process. My first cruise meant, of course, I packed too much. Only one bag as suggested, but I packed one bulging suitcase to the brim. My sister, a frequent cruiser, and frequent world traveler packed much smarter and lighter than I.
The MS Westerdam, a Holland America ship was a dream. I am a lover of all things transportation. This ship was gleaming, sparkling and enormous. Even though it is considered a mid-sized cruise ship. As it was my first ship of any kind up close and personal, I was in love.
Getting aboard the ship was an exciting event in itself. Having official pictures made for the ship’s records and ID tag, showing my brand new passport to customs. For a large number of people, we moved quickly through the various stations, providing tickets, Itineraries,Excited, smiling and calm, surprisingly calm, I passed through all the checkpoints and began climbing the winding gangplank up to the third floor.
The luggage placed just as it should be, outside our cabin, and all is right with the world. We rushed up to the tenth floor to watch the Seattle cityscape disappear. Slowly creeping out of sight. My Brother-in-Law and Nephew, followed the ship along the shoreline until we passed the lighthouse. It was surreal to wave to people on shore that you know! I made an extremely special memory for me.
After leaving Seattle we spent most of the afternoon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, beautiful water that is a wide path with islands along either side. A beautiful way to start a cruise. The international border is along the center of the strait. We passed ferries and smaller ships along that body of water.
I brought my seasick pills, but only took one. That was the one night we dined at the Captain’s table and I overindulged in the constant stream of champagne, wine and, more champagne, I might not have been seasick as much as tipsy. I am just skipping ahead a bit and talk about the Captain’s dinner. Oh my gosh, I had beef Wellington and it was delicious. The most outstanding creation was the dessert. It was in a sugar cage. It was beautiful, it felt like a shame to break it. It shimmered in the light and you had to break it with your fork before you could eat the chocolate cake inside. It was a delightfully, sinfully, decadent, dessert. After dinner, we had a few more sips of Champagne before relocating for the group picture, and it was time to stumble our way back to the cabin.
I laughed all the way to the cabin because the sway of the ship was making me bounce from one side of the narrow hallway to the other. I am sure the sailors in the cabins I bumped against appreciated me suppressed giggles afterward. I was not the only one bouncing down that hallway, my sister had been sipping the same concoctions all through cocktails, dinner, and dessert. I can only say, she is the professional travel writer, I am the new sailor. I was following her lead. I was fortunate to be invited to his table, because of my sister, yet, I enjoyed it as if I was invited because it was my first cruise. Captain Vaartjes said during dinner, “We set a pretty high bar for your first cruise” I had to agree.
I might have developed a wee crush on aforementioned Captain. His name was fantastic. Captain Bart Vaartjes. He is charismatic and genuinely kind to people. Later in the week we attended a get to know the captain presentation and he shared slides, statistics, and even participated in a question and answer session. He is adorable. I kept getting caught snapping pictures of him in passing. A girl can make herself feel better any way she wishes, while on the open seas.
On the first day and night, we cruised up the coast of Canada and up the inside Passage. With views of the ocean and the untouched shoreline of Canada, it made me feel minute, tiny in comparison. We skimmed the shore all day and to the left, nothing but water and little puffs of spray that announced a whale in the vicinity. When in the observation room, the cry “spout” would send the entire room skittering from one side of the ship to the other. The observation deck had glass on three sides, there was not a bad seat in the room.
It was along that Canadian shoreline that we came across our first Spinner dolphins. My first encounter with a dolphin. These streamlined dolphins swim in a pack of approximately forty bodies. They dart directly into the path of the ship, jump, dive, return, cross, and repeat. These acrobats were so entertaining to watch. To see such a great number cavorting in the wake of the ship. Before this cruise, I never realized there were such a variety of whales, dolphins, and seals. More about those as we move closer to Alaska.
I intend on sharing my adventure with you over the month of August. I have pictures my family might be tired of admiring. Therefore, I want to share them with you. I hope you enjoy this little travel tour reliving the best week of my life.
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