Today started as a normal weather day, overcast, foggy, and rain. We thought it a bad start for the day we chose to take a cruise. It turned out to be much better than we had imagined.
We departed at 11:30 AM, aboard the Glacier Express shown above. We hadn't even cleared the port when we saw an eagle sitting on one of the port markers. Shortly thereafter, there were a couple of sea otters.
Next was a humpback whale, the first of two we saw on the trip. We saw a lot of him, but it was in flashes and most of the pictures we ended up with were of the water after he had moved on.
A mountain goat was next on the agenda. He wasn't very active and this picture was taken with a very long lens. I don't know how the crew noticed him and with the naked eye, he was just a white dot on the cliff wall.
I should mention that this was a dinner cruise with a salmon and prime rib buffet part of the agenda. We shared a table with another couple and we were all surprised at the quality and quantity of the buffet. The salmon was pretty good, but the prime rib was Divine. Helen and I both went back for seconds. Later in the trip there was a dessert buffet with Jello and whipped cream, fruit medley, carrot cake, brownies, and cheese cake. Again, this was all you care to eat and the buffet was open a long time
We saw a number of birds and sea lions as we traveled to Aialik Bay to view Aialik Glacier.
The above pictures are of the Aialik Glacier. I tried to get another boat in the picture to give you some idea of the scope, but it was too far to the side. Suffice it to say that the face of the glacier was half a mile long and more than eight hundred feet high. I also tried to get a picture of the glacier "calving". The water was full of small icebergs, but we were actually quite a way from the glacier and when you heard the crack of the ice, it had already hit the water. Parts of the glacier were a beautiful blue color and the National Park Ranger on board told us that the blue color is cause by the sun shining through the ice, which strips the other warm colors from the spectrum of light. The pretty blue is left.
Helen got this picture of a harbor seal riding a small berg out of the fjord.
On the way back to port, we passed a Steller Sea Lion rookery. There were a lot of sea lions in the area and they were not bothered by our presence.
The rock formations in the area were full of sea birds, puffins, gulls, murres, and more. I call these rock formations because island doesn't seem appropriate. The walls of the rock are nearly vertical and the boat was able to go almost right up to the rock because the vertical wall continues underwater. There were birds probably by the million, so there has to be a good food source in the water, but a more desolate place would be hard to imagine. In fact, when you consider the whales and the sea lions too, there must be a lot of small fish in the area.
On the way back, we passed Bear Glacier, which with Aialik Glacier and many other glaciers come off the Harding Ice Field. This ice field is bigger than Rhode Island and is the largest ice field wholly in the United States. The black line in the middle of the glacier is a moraine mark where two glaciers further up in the ice field joined to form the Bear Glacier.
We had a great time and it was a very good trip. We met a few couples who also own RVs and the conversation was very interesting. A very good trip and a very good day.