Newbie Kayakers at Spencer Glacier

After a wonderful experience seeing Columbia Glacier in Valdez, we were back in Anchorage. The official Alaskan holiday was over, but we spent a few more days there to relax and enjoy Alaska just a little bit more.

On July 11, my parents took a scenic train ride and my husband and I took a train from Anchorage to Spencer Glacier. We set out at 6:30am and were treated to a very different view of Seward Highway. We were quite fortunate that day also. It was cool, but that was okay. The best thing was that it didn’t rain and the water was nice and calm.

Once we arrived to Spencer Whistle, we had a kayaking adventure with Chugach Adventures. We had met our guide, Corey, on the train and were ready to go. Corey was a big help and seemingly made it easy for us to get through the experience. This was our first kayaking experience, and I hope it won’t be the last especially since it was by all accounts a success story. Hey, we didn’t tip ourselves over, so that is most definitely a win.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Being new to kayaking, we were in a tandem kayak. And it was definitely the best thing for us. Also, since I was in the front when we canoed in Canada, it was only fair that my husband be in front this time which he enjoyed. We got somewhat close to a fairly sizeable iceberg and all I could think about was just how big it really was. A lot of people may not know that the ice we see above water is only 10-15% of the ice. The majority is under water. We were able to move across the lake and even had a chance to walk on the glacier. It wasn’t something I ever imagined myself doing. But, I also never imagined myself in a kayak.

Once we got back across, we had lunch and then a scenic train ride before heading back to Anchorage by motorcoach.

Lessons learned from this trip? Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid of a little adventure. And if you live in North America, even if you don’t, Alaska is worth every penny and the time and energy spent to get there.

Denali: I don’t mean the car

After a trip to Bar Harbor, Me a couple years ago, I’ve become a fan of national parks. And if you’re in the states, it would definitely be worth it to visit one if you can.

This summer we had the chance to visit Denali National Park on the Denali Kantishna Wilderness Tour with my parents. It was a long day, but a great experience. We saw a couple grizzlies, one quite a distance away and the other quite close.

IMG_0480.jpg

When we saw this one in the picture, everyone was excited. Too excited in fact. We were reminded often to keep it at a whisper, but we are human. Each time this sleeping bear moved, the “ooohhs and aaahhs” would start. But can you blame anyone? It’s not everyday we get to see a grizzly bear up close.

We also saw caribou, moose, ptarmigans, ground squirrels, pika, and some humans. I didn’t take pictures of the humans because I see humans all the time ;).

We were also lucky enough to get some wonderful views of Denali. I still want to call it Mt. McKinley, but I am working on it.

Even without Denali as a backdrop, the other mountains were a sight to see as well.

All in all it was a great day though it was quite long. If I had the chance to visit again, I’d probably opt for a different trip. Thirteen hours? Easy it was not. And of course that time can be longer when you stop for wildlife which of course we did. We left at something like 6:30am and got back around 8:30pm. All we could think about was rest. The next day we were supposed to take a river float trip. It was not to be. But I’d be happy to share what we did instead.

Kenai Fjords: Part 1

Sea life, glaciers, waterfalls, mountains and more! Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. First of all, I have to say that this was one of the best cruises of this type I’ve ever been on. It was 6 hours and I had my concerns. Would I get bored, cold? Would my mom complain that it was too long or too cold? By the time we got started, I didn’t care. But please don’t tell my mom that.

We took the MMT Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. Even before we boarded, I was happy. It was cloudy and it looked like there was a 100% chance for rain. There was no need to worry which I knew from a previous experience in Malaysia. It was sprinkling. It was super cloudy. There was fog. It was everything that had the makings of a potentially miserable trip. But with an enclosed area, we knew we’d at least be warm and dry.

 

Sitting on the boat waiting to get moving, I snapped pictures of boats. What a shock! But as we sat there waiting, we also saw sea otters. I think they were sea otters. Or maybe there was one sea otter and one seal. Honestly, they confuse me at times. Not to worry, there would be plenty of wildlife I did actually recognize. For example, bald eagles. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a shot of a pair of bald eagles because there were just too many people to compete with. I do believe my dad got one, but he did not share it with me.

As we moved through the water, we alerted to any wildlife that was spotted. And one of the first we saw was the puffin. I managed to get a few shots of them, but I am much too embarrassed to post those here because the pictures suck :). But we also saw steller sea lions, porpoises, and whales. And it was magnificent. The porpoises were much too quick for me to catch though I may have a picture of some water they splashed in. But the whales, oh the whales! We went on two different whale watching trips in the past couple of years and managed to see one whale on each trip. We saw at least seven humpback whales on this one. I was so excited. Though I enjoyed our previous whale watching experiences, this was definitely on a whole other level. Most of the whales we saw were in pairs as seen below.

IMG_9915

We also got to see glaciers and one in particular which often calves. The blue hues in the glacier were brilliant. I didn’t know that “ice” could be so mesmerizing. As we moved closer to the glacier, glacial ice seemingly hopped on deck. People were grabbing ice, taking pictures. We could hear the ice moving which was surreal. Looking at it, you’d never imagine that the ice is actually moving. And it calved! Twice! And all I managed to see was the movement in the water because as my dad said, “By the time you hear it, it’s already in the water. I present to you “Holgate Glacier“.

 

 

You know what? I was really liking this Alaska trip at this point. And this was only the first part of the cruise. It doesn’t include the trip back to Seward.

Whale watching in Tadoussac 

If you’ve never been whale watching, I strongly recommend it.

Our scheduled trip was for July 10. The weather forecast was, well, wet. That it would rain wasn’t the issue. As I said in a previous post, the threat of rain or less than ideal weather conditions no longer fazes me or my husband. Even my mother wouldn’t be concerned as she knew she could stay dry and warm. Truthfully speaking, I hoped that it wouldn’t rain, though. It was already cool out, and it would be even cooler out on the open water. And, I wasn’t prepared for wet weather. A piece of advice for going whale watching, dress warm and take a raincoat just in case.

We took the shuttle to the pier where we would leave. It was dark, dreary even. It was raining. Not heavy rain, but still raining. We got on the boat and stayed on the lower level.

As we waited for the boat to leave the port, we saw 4 kayakers. All I could think of when I saw them was, “Are they nuts?” But they didn’t seem to mind, so why should I? And hey, their presence in the water made for a great photo opp. I wish I knew them so I could share the photo with them.

IMG_9981b

Our guide, a biologist began talking so we knew we were about to move. Yay! This was the first part of our excursion. My husband and I and also my dad decided to go out. We didn’t let the cool wind deter us.


Even under the dark skies, the water was calm, serene. I thought it was wonderful. The guide started talking, in both English and French. But I’ll admit that I was still lost a lot of the time. I’m not proud of that, but oh well. I do recall her telling us about the area and the sea life we would possibly see. We passed an old lighthouse out in the middle of the water, and I wondered how anyone could live there. Wouldn’t it be scary to live in this? And wouldn’t it be tiring having to climb to get to your living quarters? Well, I guess that’s why I never became a sailor or anything like that.

IMG_9996

The biologist told us more about the lighthouse, but I don’t remember a thing. I was simply listening for the word “whale(s)” in her speech. I wanted to see, and that’s it. We saw gray seals and some birds. It was great to see them frolicking in the water. Free. I have to say that our first whale watching trip last year pushed me to decide on never visiting a zoo again. That and a safari in Sri Lanka a few years ago. I don’t believe that animals belong in captivity. It’s just not natural.

We moved along in the water with rain coming down from above. We saw other whale watchers. Two zodiacs were in the area.

IMG_0006

Can you imagine that I considered going on one of these rather than the full sized boat? I considered it because I knew it would mean getting closer to the whales. But, I also knew that my mom would have never agreed to that. And after seeing them, in the conditions we were in, I’m so glad I didn’t book a trip on a zodiac. Surely this story would have to be written by someone else because of the heart attack I would have had. Bravery has never been my strong point when it comes to these things.

We slowed down as did the two zodiacs in the area. I knew this meant that there must be some whale activity. The biologist explained how we could tell by noting the choppy water in the area. It meant that there was food to eat and that the whales were feeding. The excitement in her voice when she spotted a whale caused everyone to get excited I’m sure. What did we see? Minke whales. There was more than one, but I managed to get a picture of one.

IMG_0029

My husband and my dad were both out witnessing this magnificent creature just being. Living its life out in the open waters. Seeing whales or other animals like this way makes for a surreal experience. It was such a treat. I had worried that we wouldn’t see any whales because of the weather. But as the guide said, they don’t care about rain. They are home.

After we left the area, we headed back in the direction of the hotel through the Saguenay Fjord in search of belugas. My dream was to see one in real life. I had only ever seen them on National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. But this area is pretty much home to belugas. I am happy to report that I did indeed see belugas. Score! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture because I was worried about trying to take my long lens out again while it was raining. And I knew that if I went back inside, I’d miss the chance to see them since they weren’t likely to stop and pose for me.

All in all, it was a great trip and I’d like to thank AML Cruises for an unforgettable experience.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑