Monday, September 19, 2011

Alaska: Glacier Bay

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Previously on the Alaska trip...

It felt like it took me forever to pick out the pictures for this post (I'm sure that for the two of you who've been waiting on a new Alaska post, it felt like that, too), because it was so hard to narrow down the choices! I'm actually splitting it into two posts just so I can get one out! Most of the pictures will become MUCH bigger if you click on them, and I would highly recommend it...not due to my photography "skillz" (or lack thereof), but because these things are all massive and huge and have amazing details.

From the moment we sailed in to Glacier Bay National Park, we were met with incredible views like this one.

I'm not going to lie; staring down at the milky-blue water, I had a few thoughts of Titanic. I had a vain hope that we'd have a sunny day; I had in my head that sunlight sparkling off of the glaciers would be awesome.
But I'm so glad that is was cloudy and misty. I think bright sun would have just meant I'd have to wear sunglasses. Plus, I kind of liked the slightly spooky atmosphere. When the ship's engines aren't running, it's pretty silent out there. The crowd even seems hushed. It's hard not to be awed by the views.

We passed a smaller glacier, Lamplugh (pictures in the next post) on our way to Margerie. This was the view as we were sailing towards Margerie. You're looking at it from an angle; it's about a mile wide, so the only way to get the whole thing in the picture is from an angle or with a wide-angle lens (which I don't have on my bitty point and shoot digital camera).

The boat stops in front of Margerie for a while. I don't know how long I could have stood there just staring at the different colors and formations in the ice.
Can you see the tiny seagulls in the foreground? If you only click for bigger pictures in two pictures in this post, click on these. Pictures of Margerie were the most difficult to pare down, because I took approximately 3.79 bazillion, and they were all subtly different, showing different details.
See that snowy-looking ice in the water in the bottom-left corner? That means the glacier has calved recently. I did manage to capture part of a calving on "video" (consider those as "air-quotes" because the "video" was taken on my digital camera). The visual isn't that great, but if you listen past the "oooing" and "aaahing", you can hear the thunder of the glacier.

Back in the day, the ships used to blow their horns to make the glaciers calve, but I'm sure the wildlife didn't care for these noisy visitors. No matter; we saw four or five good calvings while we were there. No dramatic crack-and-tumble; they were more like mini-avalanches or snow slides. But still very awesome. The park ranger who was on board giving a color commentary over the ship's PA system told us to zoom in with our binoculars after a calving to see the seagulls dive for all the goodies that were stirred up in the water. This really gives you a sense of how big things are. Margerie's about as tall as the Statue of Liberty! Since I did't have a macro lens to capture the gulls, here's a little bit of scale for you.

Poor Ferris glacier is just to the right of Margerie, but doesn't get as much love, because, isn't nearly as photogenic.
Ferris is carrying the dirt along on top, as opposed to Margerie, which occasionally has it mixed in, or on the sides.

You can see that just a few of our shipmates were also out on deck, braving the cold (it was around 40F).
I had to splurge on some hot chocolate (replete with whipped cream and in a thermos!) to stave off the cold. I must admit that the "preservatives" they added to the hot chocolate certainly warmed us up! Watching the guy pour, I wasn't sure there'd be any room for the hot chocolate! Later when I thought about it, I was pretty sure that he was just trying to empty all his bottles more quickly so that he could go inside. =)

As the boat turned to leave, we dashed down to a lower deck. Still a great view. You can see the ripples coming from the glacier, which means that I got this shot right after a calving.

Next up: we leave Margerie behind and see three more glaciers. Stay tuned!

Glaciers in Alaska come in many shapes, colors and sizes, and turbo hot chocolate makes them all seem better.


Nic said...

Beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing. I've always wanted to visit Alaska, but for now your blog posts will have to do.

Vanessa said...

Love it! Visiting Alaska and Antarctica are both on my bucket list.

Jenny said...

Gorgous! Thanks a bunch for sharing your photos with us - I much prefer the view from my warm living-room.... LOL

Ellen said...


We hope to go to Alaska next year. Can you please tell mw with whom you went? I've been researching companies, but the more I read, the more confused I get.

Old Geek-outs