Alaska

5/20: Baird Glacier & Thomas Bay

20May-15

Today was Tuesday, May 20th. A most important day – my 60th birthday. I convinced Lou to play it low key on the ship, but there were numerous congratulations, and it was such a nice way to enter into my next decade. It was also a great day to reflect on how fortunate we are to have reached this stage of life mostly intact, and in a position to enjoy such an adventure. I thanked Lou for arranging the trip, and set out at 4am to see what I could see.

We were cruising towards an anchorage in Thomas Bay, near Baird Glacier (not an impressive glacier, but one that is accessible for shore walks). I’ll let the photos tell the story of my very early morning on deck:

A pre-dawn view - the "blue-hour" effect was very pronounced in Alaska. This is the period before sunrise, and after sunset, when the landscape takes on a lovely blue aura.

A pre-dawn view – the “blue-hour” effect was very pronounced in Alaska. This is the period before sunrise, and after sunset, when the landscape takes on a lovely blue aura.

I thought someone was following us, but we were towing one of the skiffs

I thought someone was following us, but we were towing one of the skiffs

Cruising in May gave us the opportunity to see lots of snow on the mountains

Cruising in May gave us the opportunity to see lots of snow on the mountains

It was time for coffee, and there was always some available in the lounge.  I took a few photos of the interior of the ship to share:

A peek down the hallway on Deck 2 - this is where folks stored jackets and boots, and we also had lockers outside.

A peek down the hallway on Deck 2 – this is where folks stored jackets and boots, and we also had lockers outside.

 The Activity Board - each evening, Marika (Our Expedition Leader) would tell us about the options for the next day, and we would select our choices. They would then post our schedules on the board so we could see it first thing in the morning.


The Activity Board – each evening, Marika (Our Expedition Leader) would tell us about the options for the next day, and we would select our choices. They would then post our schedules on the board so we could see it first thing in the morning.

Fortified with caffeine, it was time to go back on deck, where the day just got better.  The weather was unbelievably good, especially given how rainy it had been in Juneau.

20May-12

And, because it was such a nice morning, here are some more photos showing the beautiful landscape and some early risers

Today was our first time to experience a full day at anchor.  This is where the “Adventure” part of our Un-Cruise comes into play. We had options to go for a hike on Baird Glacier, take a skiff tour, or do some kayaking.  There were also paddleboards available for the more adventurous.  We were originally signed up for the Glacier Hike, but I wimped out after hearing it would be slippery and rocky.  I had started an exercise program several months before the cruise to prepare for the hiking.  Unfortunately, my knees didn’t appreciate the effort, and I’d tweaked one just before the cruise.  Lou also had some restrictions on exercise, but was fine for moderate hikes.  No since whining about it, we knew we wouldn’t be able to participate in everything, and we still found plenty to do each day.

We were anchored in a beautiful cove. They always tried to lift or set anchor after folks were awake if possible – it was a noisy process. They set the kayaks out, and adventures began after breakfast (with bacon … oh so good – the chef served a thick crispy bacon that all of us meat eaters raved about. There were also plenty of vegetarian options).

Lou must have smelled the tantalizing aroma of Discoverer Bacon ...

Lou must have smelled the tantalizing aroma of Discoverer Bacon …

Kayaks out and ready to go

Kayaks out and ready to go

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Lou spotted a mountain goat up on the hill

Captain Danny demonstrates his Paddleboarding skills. He was passionate about everything, and very friendly. Captain Danny led by example - he did everything from leading skiff tours to bussing tables.

Captain Danny demonstrates his Paddleboarding skills. He was passionate about everything, and very friendly. Captain Danny led by example – he did everything from leading skiff tours to bussing tables.

It was time for our Skiff Tour at 10:30am.  We enjoyed the skiff tours on the Wilderness Discoverer – we were able to get up close to shore, and there were many opportunities for photographs – although it was sometimes difficult to get good wildlife shots when the skiff was bobbing along – even though we always stopped whenever anyone requested a photo op.

Alison hops out of the skiff to get some Rockweed - also called "Aloe Vera of the Sea."

Alison hops out of the skiff to get some Rockweed – also called “Aloe Vera of the Sea.”

We got to taste the Rockweed, and I put some of the gel on my cheek - it was soothing just like aloe vera.

We got to taste the Rockweed, and I put some of the gel on my cheek – it was soothing just like aloe vera.

I did not expect it to be so sunny and warm in Alaska!  It was a very pleasant day.

A few more photos from the sights we saw on our Skiff Tour

We went closer to Baird Glacier, and it was interesting to see how the glacial silt flowed into the water. We should have asked to go further so we could get a better view of the glacier.

We went closer to Baird Glacier, and it was interesting to see how the glacial silt flowed into the water. We should have asked to go further so we could get a better view of the glacier.

The Wilderness Discoverer resting at anchor while folks are out playing

The Wilderness Discoverer resting at anchor while folks are out playing

This photo shows the fantail of the ship - we will dock where the person is standing, step off the skiff and go up the steps to Deck 2 and store our life vests.

This photo shows the fantail of the ship – we will dock where the person is standing, step off the skiff and go up the steps to Deck 2 and store our life vests.

We were back just in time for lunch, and then it was a good opportunity to just relax – take a nap, read a book, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  There was also kayaking and paddle boarding.

Enjoying the late afternoon out on the top deck

Enjoying the late afternoon out on the top deck

The photos in the gallery below are from the Un-Cruise Photo Share site – they sent all of us a link to the photos the guides took during our cruise.

We enjoyed another good meal for dinner, and continued getting to know our fellow passengers.  Small ship cruising was turning out to be a good idea.

Not quite 9pm, and we were still waiting for the sun to go down

Not quite 9pm, and we were still waiting for the sun to go down

After 9PM, and the skies are still light.  We can see a glow on the mountain in the distance, and the moon is already rising.

After 9PM, and the skies are still light. We can see a glow on the mountain in the distance, and the moon is already rising.

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