Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 241/365 - In Victoria, British Columbia

Our weather good fortune finally broke. Today it was cloudy and foggy and cool all day. Still, given that we had six days of unbelievably perfect weather I can't really complain. We made our last port visit today, to Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. I went on an Orca watching boat tour. It involved lots of wind, cold, and watching, but no orcas. We did see two harbor porpoises off in the distance and got a quick glimpse of the back and dorsal fin of a minke whale, but other than that all we saw was water, kelp, logs, and other whale watching boats. It's sounding like I should've gone for the tour of the city gardens instead. Everyone that came back from that tour was raving about how gorgeous they were. Oh well, three out of four ain't bad.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 240/365 - In Ketchikan, Alaska

Today we had the next-to-last port visit on our Alaskan cruise -- Ketchikan, Alaska. I went on a crab and beer feast/mountaintop flightseeing excurstion. The crab and beer feast part sounded much better until you realized it was at 7:15 in the morning. Still, it was pretty damn tasty. If you're drinking beer for breakfast then you're either on vacation or an alcoholic. Or both. After stuffing ourselves with dungeness crab, Alaska Amber ale, and blueberry cheesecake, we boarded a DeHavilland Beaver floatplane for our sightseeing flight over the mountains and waterways of Ketchikan. It was awesome. The views were excellent and the flight was a lot smoother than I expected, although landing on water is a bit bumpier than on land.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 239/365 - Cruising Glacier Bay

This was our second day at sea, and what a day at sea it was. We visited Glacier Bay and the scenery was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The mountains and the water and the clear blue sky were phenomenal, and then there were the glaciers. We stopped by three of them -- Reid, Margerie, and another one whose name I can't remember. Sheesh, not only am I bad with people's names, I'm also bad with glacier's names. The glaciers are miles-long, hundreds of feet thick tongues of blue ice that run from the end of narrow inlets up to the mountains. The ones we saw are called calving glaciers because chunks keep falling off of them into the sea, kinda like cows giving birth to calves.

Margerie was the best of the glaciers we saw. I saw a couple little landslide type calving incidents with it and then got to see one good-sized chunk splinter off and topple into the water with a boom. Glacier Bay is a U.S. National Park and we had a group of National Park Service rangers board our ship and narrate our tour of the park over the ship's public address system. It was like watching an Imax movie, but in person. The weather is still picture perfect. The ship's crew and everyone we talk to in the ports tells us that it normally isn't nearly this nice. Most of the time up here it's cloudy and cool and rainy, but it's been sunny and in the low 80s/high 70s for our whole cruise. And not only has it not rained, we haven't even seen hardly any clouds. So far we've hit the weather lottery. Here's hoping it holds for the rest of the cruise.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 238/365 - In Skagway, Alaska

Second stop of the cruise today -- Skagway, Alaska. It's a pretty cool little town. It's pimped out for tourists, of course, but it's still nice. Much better than Juneau, which was just sort of drab as cities go. I rode the historic White Pass & Yukon Route train up to Denver Pass and then went for a hike through the Sawtooth rainforest. This hike was shorter than yesterday's, only about three miles. I lollygagged it along the trail this time, too. The bulk of the excursion party charged on ahead, but I hung back with one of the other guides and a woman who had gone for a bike ride that morning and so wasn't in the mood for a power hike. I hiked a bit faster than she was going, so I was able to spend most of the hike on my own on the trail. It was great to enjoy the peace and quiet and calm in the woods. After the hike, we waited back down at the Denver Pass stop to catch our train for the return trip to town. The guides broke out the cooler and we sat there in the sun and drank beer until the train came to get us. It was running late, but I didn't mind that at all.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 237/365 - Moonrise over Alaska

We hit the first port on our Alaskan cruise today, the capital city of Juneau. I went for a six mile hike on a mountain alongside the Mendenhall glacier. The trail started out pretty easy and then got really steep. The views were great though and it was nice to be out in the woods. The weather was amazing. It's beginning to look like I packed the wrong sorts of clothes. I packed longsleeved shirts and turtleneck sweaters and jeans and I might have been better off packing shorts and t-shirts. It was sunny and in the 80s. Not what I expected from Alaska. I'm not complaining though. It was much better than hiking in the rain and the clear skies make for much better photos. This shot was of the moon rising over the mountains ringing the Inside Passage after we left Juneau to head further north to Skagway. The sun didn't set until 10 p.m. tonight. Now that is what I expected from Alaska.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 236/365 - Self Portrait at Sea

We are currently steaming our way toward Juneau, Alaska. We’re going to be at sea this entire day. I spent the first part of the day sitting near various windows in sundry parts of the ship looking out at the passing scenery, listening to old radio programs on my iPod, and reading (as you can see in this week’s self-portrait). It was deeeelicious. Then this afternoon, my brother and I went bowling (there are four bowling lanes in one of the bars onboard the ship) and played a game of Scrabble whilst seated at the stern as the mountains rolled past on either side. We have port calls the next two days and then another full day at sea, followed by two more port calls before debarking in Seattle. I think my brother and I will try out the rock climbing wall on our next day at sea. Gotta do something to burn off the steady stream of desserts.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Seattle Cityscape

This week's extra photo from my archives is another shot I took of Seattle from the top of the Space Needle today. Can't believe how great the weather was. The visibility from up there was amazing.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Day 235/365 - Getting Underway

We couldn’t board our cruise ship until noon, so this morning I walked over to the Space Needle. Even though I’ve only seen two of the most touristy parts of Seattle (Pike Place Market and Seattle Center), it seems like a cool city. I’m going to have to come back here when I have more time to spend. The nerd boy in me really wanted to check out the Science Fiction Museum, but I ran short on time. The view from the Space Needle was pretty spectacular. I could even see my ship tied up to the pier.

Once we got aboard, I spent about an hour just wandering around and taking photos of every nook and cranny. My cabin is pretty cramped and there are four of us in it. I’d like to have gotten a balcony room on my own, but it was easier for my brother to afford the trip if we packed four people into one room, so that’s what we did. There are two regular beds, a roll-away bed, and a bunk that pulls down from the wall. I claimed the folding bunk. It’s my own little penthouse.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)