It has been a week, but I am still missing all that our Alaska vacation represented… Time with family, less tech, beautiful scenery, and so much to learn… I thought I’d share some of the highlights here because it was just that awesome!
We flew from Boston to Vancouver, Canada… On our flight, we were able to see Mount Rainier, a stratovolcano which rises over 14,000 feet in altitude. We first thought we were seeing a cloud outside the aircraft! The city of Vancouver is fun to visit on Canada Day! It is like Independence Day here in the US, and EVERYONE was happy and wearing red. I couldn’t get over the size of the maple leaves – no wonder they are a symbol for Canada. We were able to view many totems during our trip, and I snapped many photos of them….
The city of Vancouver is so beautiful.
We traveled through the Inner Passage on our way from Vancouver, Canada to Alaska. The sun does not set until 10:00 at night, so the beautiful light at the end of the day lasts a little longer… The passage reminded me a little of the Cape Cod Canal, but so more stunning! There are almost no beaches in this area – the mountains plummet right down into the water another 1,000 feet or so. No sticking my beach chair in the sand, here!
We spent a day in Ketchikan, where the houses are perched high on the steep hillsides. The stairs going up to those houses are actually “streets” where folks get mail delivery, rubbish removal, etc… There are eagles everywhere in Alaska if you keep your eyes peeled to find them!
After visiting the town of Ketchikan, we had a beautiful trip to Juneau. We kept busy in Juneau, and one of the sights we were able to see were hundreds of commercial fisherman catching salmon. Yum!!
Half of our day in Juneau was spent on a photo safari, where we headed out looking for wildlife. We were able to see a pod of 8 Humpback whales bubble net fishing. They all work together to corral the fish into one area, and then blow bubbles to force them towards the surface in one big swarm. Then the whales communicate under water (we could hear them on a microphone) and come to the surface all at once, eating the fish.
We also saw a family of Orca whales (killer whales) with a mom and two calves, as well as some sea lions and a BUNCH of American Bald Eagles.
The second half of our day on the water was spent salmon fishing, though I was still able to snap some beautiful photos. We caught 8 salmon between the 4 of us, and had them all shipped home so we can eat them on Cape Cod!
Skagway was our next stop – with a gold panning lesson and many stories about the Gold Rush back in 1898. The trail formed by hundreds and hundreds of gold miners was a reminder of just how many risked their lives in the pursuit of fortune. Unfortunately, most did not come close to striking it rich. We rode a train up the pass that the gold rushers hiked and saw some incredible views and a momma bear with her cub!!
I spent the entire time on the back of the train car, so that my photos would come out clearer. It was chilly out there, and Carson thought it was a little scary!
The next two days were at sea, where we were able to see glaciers up close. Some are white and blue, and drop ice into the bay (a process called calving). Other glaciers, like the black one on the right below, are filled with the debris they pick up as they advance and recede, carving out valleys and mountains. Some of the icebergs we saw were bigger than my minivan!!! The color of the water in Alaska surprised me, I had no idea it would be such a beautiful shade of blue.
As we wrapped up the last days of our vacation, we visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where we were able to see many wild animals who were being cared for due to injuries.
Our “grand finale” on this trip was a flightseeing expedition on a float plane. We were able to view mountains, valleys, the oceans and inlets, wildlife, and many, many glaciers. The views took my breath away, and I was thankful for having my camera.We were at about 3,000 feet in elevation, and were able to see sights from perspectives we never would have otherwise. The glaciers were so interesting to see from above, and we were able to see the mud flats of Cook Inlet so much more clearly from above. Harvard and Yale glaciers were ones I was hoping to see on this trip, so I am glad the pilot flew us past these immense rivers of ice, which seem almost as tall as the mountains they are carving.
Time spent on this trip was an incredible gift, and one I will remember for always. Hopefully someday I will return to Alaska and find ways to explore other parts of this beautiful state.