Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Outside the lower 48
We set sail from Seward, Alaska, a small town of roughly 800 people. The town had one main street and a huge marina filled to capacity with boats of many sizes and from many locations. In addition to the people and the tourist, Seward had eagles. We quickly learned to look for golf balls in the distant trees. The golf balls were the white capped heads of the eagles perching in the trees. One actually fly over us and the size of the bird and the speed with which he flew was astounding.
In Seward, we found that most cars had a plug coming out of the hood or front grate. The hood was for plugging in the engine block heater that keeps the engine from freezing in the winter. We don't have those down south. Evidently, Alaskans will plug the car in for a while before starting the car.
We boarded the boat and set sail after dinner. We cruised through the night and reached the Hubbard Glacier in the early afternoon the next day. We bundled up in our jackets and hats and stood on the balcony as we approached. The air grew colder and colder and the water became bluer as large chunks of glacier ice floated, almost motionless, around us.
The glacier slowly appeared up a head, a great wall of blue and white with green on either side. Then we heard it. It creaked and moaned as we watched pieces of it cascade into the ocean. The sock was thrilled.
We huddled together on the balcony watching the majestic slow moving wall of ice before us. The ship turned so the other side of the ship could have a view. We run upstairs to the top deck to drink hot chocolate in the slowly falling snow.
Snow! In July! We were very happy.
The next day, we docked in Skagway, another small town. We caught a boat to Haines which was a bit smaller and more remote. Haines is the home to the largest Eagle Preserve in North America. Needless to say, we saw a lot of eagles. We even saw an active eagle nest, with an eaglet being fed by its mama! The eagles were grand, but the highlight of the visit, at least for me, was: