Month: June 2013

A Note on Comments

I’ve had a few questions by email about posting comments on the blog.  First – comments are great, and it’s fun to know someone is reading this.  Second – it’s easy to post a comment.  You don’t need to actually register for the blog, unless you want to.  When you click the “leave a comment” link, it will take you to a form where you can put in your comment.  There’s a place on top that says who the comment is from.  If it’s not automatically filled in, you can easily add your name, initials, alias, etc.  That’s all there is to it.

There may have been some problems with comments these past couple of weeks because they did a server upgrade.  Hopefully, it will work from now on.

And, a note to Tiny – your fans are wondering where your comments are lately.  I explained you were on a top secret mission, but hopefully you would be back 🙂

Note – there is a new Alaska update just before this post.

And, Some More of Alaska

Almost forgot to post an update.  I’m having a hard time adjusting to sleeping at normal times, although Lou seems to be doing ok.  Mij is still here, and it’s nice to have company – she has seen more of the local area than we have.  I have asked her to do a Guest Blog 😉

 

Now – on to Alaska.  The photos from today are from Tuesday, May 21st.  I probably won’t download photos from each day, but thought I would at first to give an idea of how the cruise went.

The ship pulled anchor late Monday night, and cruised to our new anchorage near Patterson Lake.  When I woke up – again before 5AM, I saw another boat by us – so much for remote anchorages!  Turns out, it was from the same company, and it had a few crew on it who were there to fix up the kayaks they store in Patterson Lake for guests who manage the 11 mile hike (not us!).

This was a very relaxing day for us.  We did an introductory Kayaking Paddle in the morning, and a skiff ride in the afternoon.  Of course, we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well.  Today was so nice, they set up appetizers and cocktails on the top deck – conveniently on the same deck as our cabin.

 

We had company this morning.

We had company this morning.

Looking out from the bow of the ship once the sun has come up.

Looking out from the bow of the ship once the sun has come up.

The first group of hikers goes out right after breakfast.  This was for the "strenuous" hike of the day.

The first group of hikers goes out right after breakfast. This was for the “strenuous” hike of the day.

We tried Kayaking - they were tandem seats.  I sat in the front and Lou in the back.  We weren't too good at it.

We tried Kayaking – they were tandem seats. I sat in the front and Lou in the back. We weren’t too good at it.

Tried to take a photo of Lou in the back.  Decided cameras and kayaks didn't work for me.

Tried to take a photo of Lou in the back. Decided cameras and kayaks didn’t work for me.

It was a beautiful day for lounging in the sun after lunch

It was a beautiful day for lounging in the sun after lunch

 

We headed out on our afternoon Skiff Tour

We headed out on our afternoon Skiff Tour

A funny little island in the middle of the bay

A funny little island in the middle of the bay

Some cool rocks - did I mention, Lou likes rocks.

Some cool rocks – did I mention, Lou likes rocks.

A colorful Harlequin Duck

A colorful Harlequin Duck

The forest with the sun in the trees and some water that came out Caribbean Blue in this photo ...

The forest with the sun in the trees and some water that came out Caribbean Blue in this photo …

An immature Bald Eagle - they keep this coloring until they are 4 to 5 years old.

An immature Bald Eagle – they keep this coloring until they are 4 to 5 years old.

Two gulls on a rock

Two gulls on a rock

Coming back to the ship

Coming back to the ship

Cocktails on deck.  The gal with the short hair went to UC Riverside.  She's a Doctor in San Diego now.  I guess she didn't get the memo on how exciting the cement world is.

Cocktails on deck. The gal with the short hair (the one on the right) went to UC Riverside. She’s a Doctor in San Diego now. I guess she didn’t get the memo on how exciting the cement world is.

Roy (with the beard) and his wife are from Australia and are on an extended tour of North America.

Roy (with the beard) and his wife are from Australia and are on an extended tour of North America.

After dinner and some socializing, we went to bed.

After dinner and some socializing, we went to bed.

As you can see, it was a fairly rough day at sea.  We couldn’t believe our luck with the weather.  Even though we didn’t see any whales, bears, or lions, it was an enjoyable and relaxing day.  It was just right for us.  For those who wanted more action, there was a longer guided Kayak tour with a guide, and a 3 hour hike into the woods.

Alaska – Seeing Some Scenery

Today’s photos are from Tuesday, May 20th.  This was my birthday, and the reason Lou booked the trip – Thanks, Lou!  It was a beautiful day to relax and enjoy the views.

Up early at 4am –

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It was a wonderful day.  I was up at 4AM to take the first photos of the day.  Lou joined me for breakfast.  We went out on a skiff ride in the morning, came back – had lunch, napped, read, chatted with folks out in the sunshine.  Then we had dinner, watched the sun almost set and the moon come out – sound asleep by 9:30pm.

 

Alaska – Seeing Some Wildlife

Continuing on from our amazing time at Sawyer Glaciers and Tracy Arm Wilderness area, we had a hearty lunch and continued cruising to Frederick Sound.  On the way, we saw a bear on the shore – I showed this one before, but it bears repeating …

Lou took this amazing photo, using his tripod and big lens.  The rest of us thought the bear was chewing snow ...

Lou took this amazing photo, using his tripod and big lens. The rest of us thought the bear was chewing snow …

After lunch, we had to attend talks on Hiking and Kayaking – mostly dealing with safety.  You’re supposed to talk loudly or sing as you hike through the woods – yelling out “Hey Bear.”  Apparently the point is not to get the bear to come to you, but to warn it of your presence so it doesn’t eat you.  Who knew?

A couple of our Expedition Guides, Laurie and Allyson, are telling us all about kayaking.

A couple of our Expedition Guides, Laurie and Allyson, are telling us all about kayaking.

 

About half way through dinner (cornish game hen or rock fish), an announcement was made that there was a haulout of Steller Sea Lions to the portside.   Some of us more eager photographers jumped up and ran to get our cameras.  These guys were SO NOISY, I should have taken a video.  I imagine they smelled bad too, but we didn’t notice that.

These are male Steller Sea Lions - they have come here to hangout, because they couldn't find a woman (well, a female Steller Sea Lion)

These are male Steller Sea Lions – they have come here to hangout, because they couldn’t find a woman (well, a female Steller Sea Lion)

 

A closer look at these noisy beasts.  Male Steller Sea Lions average 9 ft. in length, and 1500 lbs.  They live an average of more than 20 years.

A closer look at these noisy beasts. Male Steller Sea Lions average 9 ft. in length, and 1500 lbs. They live an average of more than 20 years.

 

We were now cruising in Frederick Sound, an area known for likely sightings of humpback whales.  They come here on their way back from making the 3,000 mile swim from Hawaii.  Where are those darned whales??? (Lou said I was slightly obsessive about seeing whales).

We see evidence of humpbacks in the distance ...

We see evidence of humpbacks in the distance …

 

One gets up closer to the boat and we watched him for over 20 minutes.  I called him “Ernie,” because he was kind of a lazy guy.  Just floating around, barely showing his tail.  This might be a behavior called “logging,” but I’m not sure.  I decided he was very tired and was stretching after having arrived from his very long swim from Hawaii just that day (there is no evidence to support my theory).

Ernie gives us a wimpy fluke shot

Ernie gives us a wimpy fluke shot

 

Here's Ernie doing his Orca imitation - he would stick one fin out of the water and swim around in a circle

Here’s Ernie doing his Orca imitation – he would stick one fin out of the water and swim around in a circle

 

Ernie gently rolls over to check out what's happening on the surface

Ernie gently rolls over to check out what’s happening on the surface

 

Another look at a fin out of the water - this one looks gold-plated (maybe barnacles or algae?)

Another look at a fin out of the water – this one looks gold-plated (maybe barnacles or algae?)

 

We say goodbye to Ernie as he gives us a little bit of tail - it was almost 9PM, and time to continue on.

We say goodbye to Ernie as he gives us a little bit of tail – it was almost 9PM, and time to continue on.

 

So – that was pretty much the end of our first cruising day.  It was not a bad day – the grandeur of Sawyer Glaciers, beautiful scenery, and some great wildlife action.  Can the rest of the week meet the standard set by Day 1?

Looking back at the Alaska Trip

Whew – it’s good to be home in Maine, but it will take a while to settle down into a normal sleeping pattern.  The dogs have adjusted just fine.  Stitch slept mostly with us last night, while Tasha stuck close to Mij.  This is not surprising, since she hopped on Mij’s bed the first night she arrived.  She’s now lying on the Ottoman across my feet.

I plan to recap the Alaska trip over the next few weeks, so most of our posts will deal with that, unless something noteworthy happens here.

Alaska – Week 1, The Beginning

As you know from our earlier posts, we started the trip with a long flight from Bangor to Juneau, with a couple days to recoup in Juneau before our first cruise started.  While in Juneau, we did visit Mendenhall Glacier and also did some tourist browsing.  Lou found something he liked, so we bought a bear and had him shipped home.  It was funny – the shop lady said, “Oh, I’m glad Lou is finding a good home.”  We looked at her with a blank stare, then found out the bear’s name was also “Lou.”

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We boarded the ship at 5PM with 70 of our closest friends.  It had been raining for two solid days, but we got lucky and the rain let up as we headed out of Juneau.

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We spent the night motoring towards our first destination – Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier.  Dinner was always served as a sit down affair – lunch and breakfast were buffet.  We had salmon the first night.  It was OK, but the food definitely got better as the cruise went on.

We woke up early to find that we were in Tracy Arm Fjord, and headed to North Sawyer Glacier.  Many cruise ships don’t get very close to the face of the glacier this early in the season, but we made it to within a mile.  We took a quick look at North Sawyer, before heading to South Sawyer, which is the more impressive of the two.

North Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm

North Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm

 

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The crew unloaded the four skiffs so we could get up close to the ice

The crew unloaded the four skiffs so we could get up close to the ice

 

The first group heads out to explore

The first group heads out to explore

 

Views from the ship were good, as the sun started to come out for a while

Views from the ship were good, as the sun started to come out for a while

 

A view of the Rocky Shoreline

A view of the Rocky Shoreline

 

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Up Close to the ice bergs – we had to be careful, because the ice was shifting and could easily trap the skiff

 

The Harbor Seals come to the glacier to have their pups on the ice bergs, where they are safe from predators like whales.

The Harbor Seals come to the glacier to have their pups on the ice bergs, where they are safe from predators like whales.

 

A seal checks out the interlopers

A seal checks out the interlopers

 

We experienced our first glacier calving, and felt the skiff roll as the waves from the falling ice moved through the water

We experienced our first glacier calving, and felt the skiff roll as the waves from the falling ice moved through the water

A view of the left side of the glacier face

A view of the left side of the glacier face

 

A very large, strange looking ice berg

A very large, strange looking ice berg

 

Yet another strange looking ice sculpture

Yet another strange looking ice sculpture

 

An overview of the Glacier as we leave for more adventures

An overview of the Glacier as we leave for more adventures

 

This was a perfect way to start our cruise.  Some of these photos were in an earlier post,  from May 22nd, so they may look familiar. We were pleasantly surprised to have no rain, since the forecast had called for rain for at least the first few days of our cruise. Will be adding more about the Alaska Trip in the coming days.  Thanks for checking in.

Home, Sweet Home

We arrived at the Bangor Airport at 12:45AM this morning.  We had decided we would stay at the hotel overnight.  That worked fine, except of course, neither of us could sleep.  Mij picked us up at 9AM this morning and had a couple of furry surprises with her.

I rode in the back seat with the pups.  Once they expressed their absolute joy and excitement of having us home (OK – they jumped around when they saw us, just as they would when they see anyone), they both decided to take a nap on the ride home:

 

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Once home, clearly Stitch was happy to see us:

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Natasha had to think about it …

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Stitch was hedging his bets, making sure to keep a close eye on Mij:

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We’re just relaxing, trying to stay awake so we can sleep tonight.  A nice sailboat went by to entertain us:

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