Friday, August 21, 2009

Alaska, continued...

Richard went rock climbing and rapelling while we were in Alaska. Here is a really good picture of him getting ready to rapell down the side of this cliff. This was the first time he'd ever done something like this and said he had a great time and would like to go again. I applaud him for his bravery. This is almost like falling out of an airplane to me.

When we were at Mendenhall Glacier we ran into a momma bear and her two cubs. We knew she was around as we could hear her in the brush and there were tons of salmon all over the place with the skin removed (the bears eat the skin as it has the highest fat content and leave the rest). Finally after waiting patiently for what seemed like hours we were rewarded with a sighting of this beautiful mom. And yes, we really were that close...

Nothing to do but lay around on a buoy. We circled this group of sea lions for just a few minutes. They didn't seem to mind us one bit. I love how they're layered on here.

Isn't this a beautiful ammonite?? Saw this in one of the local jewelry stores in Ketchikan. I think it was $15,000. I told 'em I'd just write a check...haha

More later, I promise...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Alaska

Continuing on with pictures from Alaska....below we have one of the best pictures of Richard!! Look at the smile on this kids face!! In his hands he holds a 32 pound Alaskan King Salmon that he caught for me!! He caught 2 fish on this trip including a silver salmon. Both are cut into fillets and are in my freezer at home. Richard said this was his most favorite excursion. I would have loved to send him fishing again but we ran out of time. Have I mentioned lately how proud I am of my kids and how truly happy they make me??

This is Bryn Mawr Glacier in College Fjord. In College Fjord the glaciers on the left side of the waterway are named after women's colleges and the right side are men's colleges. Anyway, notice how the two glaciers come together and form one bigger glacier. The black line that runs down the center where the two join is called the medial moraine. As the glacier moves down the mountain it scrapes up all of the rocks, plants, dirt, etc. and transports it downward. Now, you don't see the bottom of the glacier and what it is picking up but you do see the edges of the glacier. Before the two glaciers join the dark edges with the scraped-up rocks are called the lateral moraines. But once they join two of the lateral moraines become one in the middle, hence the medial moraine. Now you have a glacer with a lateral moraine on the left and right and a medial morain down the center. And there, boys and girls, is your geology lesson for today!

This is a pod of humpback whales that are bubble feeding. Here's how it works. The pod begins to circle a school of fish (ie. herring, sardines) from below. As they circle they release bubbles from their blow holes. The bubbles scare the school of little fish and they pack even tighter into a ball. There is one "singing" whale that makes calls as they do this (we got to hear it on the hydrophone....AMAZING). As the pitch of the calls gets higher the pod moves upward but continues to circle and release bubbles. A couple of the whales rise through the center of the bubble net, open their big mouths, and eat the whole school of fish. How flippin cool is that?!?! Porpoises do this also. This pictures is shows the whales with their mouths wide open after a tasty snack. LOVE IT!!

Isn't this an amazing picture of a bald eagle? This was taken on the Deadliest Catch tour. The captain would toss a small fish into the water and the eagles would descend upon it. This eagle flew directly overhead. I was in awe and am so happy to have gotten such a great picture!!

More later....I promise...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alaska...WOW!

Alaska was amazing...truly amazing! It's difficult to put the experience into words because I think it is something that really needs to be experienced. I could not have asked for a better time and I am so happy that I was able to share the experience with Richard. If he thanked me once he thanked me a hundred times for taking him on this trip. He had a fabulous time as well and I will share more pictures of him this coming week. I took 1,841 pictures on my camera and he took 28 on his. My photos are taking a little while to get through so I'm simply posting some of my favorites here.

The picture below is my favorite photo of the whole trip. Richard took this of me standing in front of Harvard Glacier at the head of College Fjord. I had the camera set on the sports setting so he caught my scarf mid-lift. I just love that you can't see my eyes but can see that I'm smiling! This glacier calved twice while we were there. The sound was wonderful! The natives call the sound "white thunder." We could also hear the snap, crackle, and pop as the glacier moved. Harvard glacier is an advancing glacier meaning that is is continuing to grow rather than retreat.

Ah, what a cool whale tail!! Saw this while on my sea otter tour and it was totally a surprise as this whale came up alongside the ship unexpectely. I am going to send in a copy of this photo to the marine mammal database to find out about this whale. Did you know that the markings on each whale's tail are as unique as our fingerprints? True...

Richard in front of Mendenhall Glacier. We went there after a whale watching trip. We also got to see a black bear and her cubs. I'll post pictures of that later as we got some really great photos of that! The bears were ~15 feet from us. Breathtaking!


Richard and me with the crew of the Alleutian Ballad. This was the Deadliest Catch tour and I highly, HIGHLY recommend it if you go to Alaska! The crew was absolutely fabulous. For those that don't know, this boat that we were on tipped over on it's side and the crew had to be rescued during the first season of the show. It has since been restored and converted to a tour boat. Watching them bring up the crab cages was really cool. I put a picture of me with an Alaskan King Crab in my blog header.

There will be more pictures forthcoming. I just need to get through them all and figure out what I want to post. I hope this will give you just a taste of our trip. Richard and I talked about it at the end and thought if we went back we'd really like to do a land trip rather than another cruise. The cruise was great but I really would like the opportunity to do things on my time at my pace. So, I'd probably fly into Anchorage and rent a car next time to drive through different parts of Alaska and Denali National Park.
More later...I promise...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009