January 30, 2012

Alaskan Cruise: Glacier Bay

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was barely a cloud in the sky, and by Alaskan terms, it was warm! It was the perfect day to cruise Glacier Bay.

We started our morning walking into the buffet, forgetting how packed it would be because the Park Rangers, who had boarded our boat first thing in the morning, were giving a commentary that was being broadcast only to that room. As soon as we stepped in the Ranger went over the microphone and said, "Orca! Starboard! Killer Whale!". Almost everyone in the room ran to the windows on right side of the boat to try and see these whales. That's when we decided it was such a beautiful day, why eat inside?

Glacier Bay was nothing like I had pictured. I thought the whole thing would be covered in snow and ice, with giant icebergs floating around. Needless to say, I was totally wrong! It was beautiful and green!

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We finally arrived at the Margerie Glacier right before lunchtime. The Margerie Glacier is the one you see in all the advertisements for Alaskan Cruises. Our boat pulled up (what felt like) right next to the Glacier. We thought the boat was going to be spinning so we hung out on the far side of the boat so we would have a good view when the boat turned. Unfortunately, we missed the 2nd largest calving our boat had ever seen! The whole boat rocked back and forth and the water in the pool sloshed around. We ended up moving after that so we wouldn't miss another one. There were a few smaller ones that happened while we were there, but none as big as that first one! After spending about an hour at the Margerie Glacier we headed back towards the park entrance, passing by many other glaciers on our way out. 

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On our way out of the park, we heard that there could be some good whale watching. We never saw one close up, but we did get a few tales and fins! 

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Up Next: Ketchikan & our zip-lining adventure! 

January 27, 2012

Alaskan Cruise: Skagway

Our second stop on our cruise was Skagway. It's an old gold mining town with lots of history! We had the whole day in port so we spent the morning wandering around the town and the afternoon on the White Pass Train. 
When we first planned our trip we didn't plan any excursions for our day in Skagway, but after some thought we decided to book one after all. I'm very glad we did! Skagway is a very small town with the main street being about 2 blocks long. If we had stayed in town all day we would have quickly run out of things to do. I highly recommend, if you're ever in Skagway, take a trip on the White Pass Train! You won't regret it!

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The great part about booking our trip on the train from our cruise, was that the train pulled up right to our boat! It was a little bit of a walk from town but it was nice to know where we were suppose to be. If we had known ahead of time that the train pulled onto the dock, we would have booked the train in the morning so we would not have had to make the walk. Also, I highly recommend sitting on the left side of the train as the view on the way up is much better!

The White Pass Train takes you on a 3 hour trip through the hills behind Skagway, pass the routes the old miners used to take, and into Yukon Territory (aka Canada!). The views were stunning. It was also really cool to be able to see the actual paths that the miners heading into the Yukon took. 

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Two workers who worked on the railroad were killed by the rock below. Their bodies were never rescued, and when you see the size of the rock you understand why! (It pretty much took up the whole frame of the picture!)

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Up next: The highlight of the trip... Glacier Bay!