Dear Diary: Mama’s Alaskan Adventure, Part Two

You’re pre-welcome for this post, which is basically a slideshow of our trip. Because who doesn’t love picture after picture from someone else’s vacation, eh? But, hey! There are cute, fuzzy animals!

FYI, I put my Canon on automatic setting with the zoom lens I discussed here. Someone with a smidge of camera knowledge could’ve pulled off even cooler photos.
Day Four – Icy Straight Point
Have I got a whale of a tale for you, Diary!
So, in Icy Straight Point today, we went on a three-hour, whale-watching boat ride. And it was glorious. We saw four to six humpback whales bubble feeding for three solid hours. Basically, they would work as a team and swim low, blowing bubbles in a circle to corral herring into a mob. Then, they’d shoot from the bottom, mouths wide open, to collect gobs of fish. We could tell where this was going to happen (generally) because a ton of sea birds would swarm the surface.

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This was mid-way through the three-hour boat tour (cue Gilligan’s Island music, eh?).
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Then, OK, cool! I can get a good shot of a whale with our cruise boat.
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And then! Free Willy tried to eat us. JK.
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Needless to say, it was worth standing in 45-degree drizzle for 2.5 hours.

Sea lions also gallivanted (seems like the appropriate term) through the collected fish. We had a fabulous guide, Captain Duane, who did a fantastic job of getting us close to the action. At our closest, the whales came up about 15-20 feet from our not-so-huge boat. I could see the details of the barnacles on the whale’s chin. If that isn’t what coming to Alaska is all about, I don’t know what is!

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Sea lions frolicking.

Day Five – Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier
I did it! I successfully kayaked for two hours! After scheduling this kayak-near-a-glacier excursion months ago, I’ve been nervously waiting for this day. Would I be able to keep up with the others? Would I make it across the lake, only to completely burn out and have to be towed back by the guide (embarrassing!)? Would reps on the row machine actually pay off? Well, the answer is apparently yes.

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The Mendenhall Glacier. Not pictured: My sexy rain pants and boots.

Then again, I was in a tandem kayak with my husband, so he may have done the heavy lifting. Regardless, I’m counting it as a win (until I can’t move my very sore arms in the morning). Also, as we serpentined sporadically across the lake (unintentionally), we realized that tandem kayaking can cause some…conversations…between a married couple. Thankfully, 1.) I’m married to a very patient, think-before-he-speaks man, and 2.) The tour was only two hours long.
Day Six – Skagway

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Our guide, Joe, pretending to be a bear. Just kidding! I think he was talking about some tree.

Dear Diary,
Today was our last official port. We found a cool, South Dakotan named Joe holding a sign for “Skagway Float Tours” on the dock and headed into the rain forest that inhabits large stretches of Alaska. A two-mile hike took us through drippy woods covered in moss and up relatively steep, stone staircases. Our hike ended at a river, a rubber raft, and a pile of boots. After slipping into my men’s-size-8s, we boarded the raft and thanked the Lord as Joe picked up the two, large paddles (see: Day Five).
I have photographic evidence of numerous bald eagles and seals. If you ever want to see wildlife, head to Alaska. Though, I’m apparently not going to see any moose or bear this trip, so that’s a personal bummer. I suppose I’ll have to settle on humpback whales, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and porcupine (I spotted it first!).
It was our first sunny day, which was a sweet change from the constant drizzle we’ve been under. We also got to eat dried salmon jerky. But I definitely like my jerky to taste, well, not like fish, so it wasn’t my favorite experience.

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This shot was taken from our 15-passenger van.

Day Seven – Final Day at Sea

Hello Diary,

Today is the day before we jettison back to reality. We cruised by Hubbard Glacier today, which, frankly, looked like every other glacier we’ve seen. Though, it was quite a bit wider. We’re now sailing our way to “Anchorage,” as advertised by the cruise ships, but they actually mean “Seward,” which is more than two hours away from Anchorage–the city with the airport.

I’m spending most of today reading (and eating). In Juneau, we came across a few bookstores. They all had books with hand-written recommendations poking out of the pages of their best books. I love this practice. Because of it, I purchased The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and have consumed about half thus far. I finished Mary Roach’s Grunt earlier this trip and wrote a pending review for you (I’ve had some spare time on my hands).

Tomorrow, we’re taking a bus through the Alaskan abyss until we run into the airport. Since our flight doesn’t leave until evening, I decided we should rent a teeny car and see what Anchorage has to offer. We’re not the most spontaneous travelers, so hopefully we’ll find something interesting.

It’s been a fabulous trip, but at this point, I’m counting down the hours until I get to squeeze those babies of mine.
Day Eight – Travel Day

A long, looooong day began with getting off the ship in Seward and onto a 2.5-hour bus ride at 7 a.m. We made it to Anchorage with no problems and rented a car at the airport to spend our 9ish hours before boarding a plane home.

With our new freedom, we actually drove an hour back the way we came to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center…where I finally saw a moose! And a bear! And the fuzziest porcupine on the planet. Well worth the gas money.

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And then, after an overnight, seven-hour flight, we caught our connecting flight and arrived in Florida. My parents surprised us with the kiddos near baggage claim. I came at George with a big, “Hi, baby! I missed you!!!!”

Zero reaction. From either kid.

We picked them up and held them while we found our bags. I’m going to blame the fact that they were overwhelmed by the airport itself, but it went a teeny bit differently in my head. Ah well, Olivia hasn’t stopped sitting on either me or my husband since we’ve come home. It’s clear we were missed, so my heart was OK in the end.

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