Tuesday, August 30, 2011
If there was one place in Alaska that seemed supernatural...."other"....it was the Hubbard Glacier.
6 miles long....and 20 stories high.....it's like a living ice giant.
The cruise boat entered the bay then gently and slowly moved towards the glacier (the captain reminded us that icebergs and propellers don't mix so we would enter the bay then drift closer to the glacier.)
The glacier was blue....but the color reminded me of my trip to Africa....the almost turquoise blue that is painted on desert doors....the blue in Egyptian and Mediterranean art.
As we neared the glacier we could hear it.....it cracked and groaned....sometimes you could see huge blocks of ice slip into the water....at other times you could hear the crack, the groan, the slide but realized it was somewhere beyond the edge...somewhere behind in the many deep crevices. Click on the pictures and enlarge them.....I didn't retouch the color of the sky...it was a smokey gray with hints of red.....a strange surreal sky that made you feel you were someplace else. Indeed...if you just looked at the glacier and the sky above you could pretend you were on another planet....so strange and unfamiliar was the landscape.
At the very end of our time with the glacier....a mega chunk of ice slipped into the sea....it was so big ...people who were gathered on their balconies and the bow of the boat....started clapping spontaneously! And then we watched a couple of gigantic waves....move forward towards our boat and out into the bay.
My boat in the Sitka harbor.....a little 1800 capacity boat.....I like smaller crowds....if I went on a cruise again....I would aim for the 800......or 250 if I was real adventurous. Then you can enter ports the big ships can't....and can avoid the 2000 person dump onto land at a port.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
I'm so glad we saw this bear! I had dragged my hickory hiking sticks (bought in Virgina) all the way out to the Park....just in case....I had to confront a bear (no no I don't go around wanting to smack a bear on the snout but I thought just in case....I want to have something of heft in my hand)....so here comes Blacky ...crossing the road just before the trailhead....LOL>>>actually I held onto my stick tightly at first and startled at every twig that snapped.
This part of the country is like a walking through a postcard....every which way you turn and look the scenery is spectacular. It's hard not to come back with postcard pics.
Sorry we didn't make it into Canada...we were going to cross the border but because there of the lack of an Internet connection I was sure if the passes were all open and we didn't want to drive that far North only to turnaround and come back the same way. Probably a good decision....it would have added lots more miles and hours of driving to this mega drive adventure.
Friday, August 26, 2011
When my father passed away and his DNA results came back....I was surprised and then not surprised to find he carries a large percentage of Mongolian DNA.....of course.....now I can at least rationalize why I have always ....been drawn to the grassy range land and deserts of the West. I love them....I love driving through them....it immediately opens your soul....it immediately makes your inner life feel bigger and less cluttered inside.
This past week.....people here at home....have asked me several times....did you really drive round trip to Seattle....Yes, I answer....and I watch their eyes glaze over.
True Kansas and Oklahoma are a bit tough....but the grass lands in Colorado and Idaho and Washington are well worth the sore butt and stiff shoulders from driving. The opportunity to pull over ...get out of the car and just stand there.....in the open space.....sometimes without another car passing by you for a long time....was precious.
Click on the pics to enjoy a bigger view.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Both of these were taken in Moab.....the sky was extraordinarily blue that day......and all these pictures were taken before 9am....the sun bleached everything out after then....turning reds into a pink shimmer. I was surprised to see such intense greens in the desert......they had a few storms recently and all the desert plants were full and green.
Monday, August 22, 2011
A friend.....sent me this today.....and I just loved it!
Obviously....I'm not a Michelle B. fan.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
2000 miles already of range and grassland and rain.....huge storms that swallow half a state...and still I'm not home yet. I feel like I'm in a Dali painting that doesn't have an edge.
The people in these landscapes seem more gritty and tough than I remember them from previous trips.....scrappy but not always in a good way.
The land seems a bit more crowded...and where ever there is a breath-taking view....usually a mega home is perched on it. Big homes that don't look locally owned.
I still love Wyoming. There are still views of infinite grasslands. And windmills....so many in some passes...... it is as if a giant walked through and stuck pinwheels into the ground.
More driving more miles tomorrow.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Yesterday....we spent a bit of time in Sitka.....which was a neat small time. We're trying not to do all the touristy stores and touristy excursions so we hoofed it on up to the Raptor Center which rehabilitates eagles from around the state. I admit....when they brought one of the eagles into a viewing room so we could have a closer look at the animal....I was impressed. Amazingly large bird with a stare that could not knock you down.
Ship board life is pleasant so far......this is a much smaller cruise ship than the last one I was on down to Mexico.....the food has been quite good in the main restaurant....and I hate to admit I enjoy drinking good wine....then heading down to dinner.....having great food and desert. Pampered living ain't too bad at times. Because we are in the inside passage....the boat barely rocks...so there's no queasy stomach to deal with or any swaying down the halls. I've avoided the casino and some other bars on the boat...and have stuck to watching the world go by from my deck (wrapped up in wool blankets) and occasionally catching a show. It has been damn pleasant.
Today ...our last day in Alaska....I stumbled upon a drop dead original art work by a native man who teaches art in Seattle at my ol' alma mater at the University of Washington. One credit card swipe later and a stunning Indian style Heron is on it's way south.
Well my Internet time at the public library is almost over.....on to Victoria tomorrow.....and then Seattle and a long hot drive across the country.
Monday, August 08, 2011
So far the sailing has been very pleasant. Paying extra for a larger room with a balcony has been worth the money x 1000! I can go to the public spaces of the boat or just sit comfy in my little room watching the world go by. This is a midsized boat so it hold about 1800 folks..far different from the last boat I was on which held 3000. Of course, the less folks...the nicer the travel. The food in the dining rooms has been very good..... Fresh not frozen...and even elegant at times. I got a little queasy in open seas the other day but combatted that would a 2 miles walk around the boat. I looked like nanuck if the north though because the cold ocean breeZe demands multiple layers plus a hat and gloves .
Because my hub is attending a conference on the boat, we know people so we've been able to be chummy with folks or not. Today when we hit shore, we just plan to hoof it around town and enjoy the locals before we take a short excursion to get close and personal with a glacier.
Oh what luck.! The sky is clearing even more! Yippee.
Thinking about all u hot folks as I put my layers of clothes on to face 54 degrees.
Sent from my iPhone
Saturday, August 06, 2011
Friday, August 05, 2011
After Idaho, we stayed in Helena, Montana overnight.....hotel row was at the edge of town near the Wal-Mart. It was an odd setting since there didn't seem to much around.....when we asked where we could eat....the woman at the desk suggested a diner down the road. Diners are fine....sometimes the home of good food.....although this one was definitely a bit more questionable. I ordered an omeles but was leery of it.... it was swimming in way too much grease and I noticed our waitress had a nice huge cold sore on her lip......which grossed me out because I kept thinking of her shedding herpes simplex virus all over. I diner was also a part of a casino....I didn't get this arrangement in Montana but apparently you can have a casino in town as long as it is attached to an eating establishment. So it wasn't rare to see half restaurant/half casino combinations and it certainly looked like the casino was the main joint and the restaurant was just there to meet the requirements.
Happy to get out of Helena....we made it to the big lodge....the big tree lodge....Glacier National Park Lodge. The lodge used to be the ultimate in travel destinations....as folks from out east would hop the Great Northern Rail line and end up at the station about two blocks away from the hotel. People still arrive by train .....although now it's Amtrak.....and the porters hustle them from the platform to the hotel. In these grand lodges....there are no TVs or Internet connections....so you are pretty isolated....which is the point.
I give the hotel mixed reviews......it was darker and felt more claustrophobic then other national park lodges I have been in. We had a big room but only two lamps which had those energy saving light bulbs....hence we were always deprived of light at night. I We decided to splurge and ate in the grand restaurant but outside of a big bill....the food was disappointing. Everything was premade frozen restaurant type food....except with a significant mark up. I had hoped to spend each evening in the restaurant.....after vigorous hiking....and touring.....but we nixed that idea after our first meal. We walked instead to town about 1/2 mile away and had regular but decent food.....a hamburger that tasted fresh.....a salad that looked vigorous instead of wilted.
But, of course, the main reason to be in Glacier is to be outside.....and we had three glorious days of blue skies and sunny weather. We decided to play tourist one day and take one of the famous "jammers" the old red car/buses along the mountainous roads. The famous road ...Going to the Sun Road.....is famous for its drop offs and hair pins turns....so we decided to let a professional drive and talk so we could just take in the views. I'm leery of going on such a touristy feature but it was actually beautiful.....and joyous not to watch the road but just the scenery. The bus/car is open roofed so you can get a great view and take pictures. With the open roof at high altitude, I managed to get my the part in my hair sunburned .....as I wore a visor and sun glasses and sun tan lotion but never thought about the top of my head which was exposed to the sun for about 5 hours. In the evening, I kept wondering why my head was hot....then took a look in the mirror and went OUCH....no wonder.
We hiked the next days.....which was wonderful. Headed out early in the morning with camera and plenty of water....and our walking sticks. I insisted we take our wooden walking sticks which we bought in Maryland many years ago.....with us ....so if a bear attacked us.....I could at least swat him....I was not going down without a fight. This amused my husband to no end.....he grew up in Idaho ....has seen bears and simply tells me the hitting a bear with my stick would be the equivalent of swatting it with a toothpick.
Ha! But one morning.....just about 1/2 mile from the trail head we did see a bear walking across the road....a young black bear....and I noticed my hub didn't tease me too much when I insisted we bring our sticks for this part of the trail. I took some really neat pics which I hope to post later.....as my laptop and camera don't synch well. By the way....now the preferred method of feigning off bear attacks is to take bear repellent....basically a huge aerosol can of pepper spray....which you're supposed to spray in the bear's eyes ....causing him temporary blindness and the chance for you to run like hell away from him. It eventually wears off, just like it does on people, and hopefully you are far away and the bear does not want anything to do with you.
Our last day in Glacier I walked to the car....and had to zip up my jacket. I was shaking from the cold a bit....the car temp gauge noted a pleasantly chilly 46 degrees early in the morning! My son has just texted me the night before that the heat index was 114 in our town.....so what a pleasant sensation this was.....chills.
We drove through the ranch lands of Montana....next to gorgeous blue lakes....into Washington state where the rolling landscape turned arid and brown. I had completely forgotten about the Columbia river gorge road....which descends and then you climb forever uphill....crossing your fingers that your car is really road worthy cause the elevation, heat and car muscle needed to get out of the gorge is always a bit worrisome....especially when bucking the usual terrific headwinds in that area. I've been here several times when I lived in Seattle.....and it was interesting that everything looked so the same except for the big windmills which now dot the ridge in the area.
So onwards to Seattle and tomorrow the cruise boat to Alaska!