Friday, August 10, 2012

It's All About the Ice, Baby

Friday, we waked the short distance to the Harbor to board the boat for our Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife Cruise. This is another 2 for 1 from our tour book. We have saved a bunch of money on that book. This tour is on the Prince William Sound. We had taken a tour on it out of Seward but will be seeing it from the eastern side this time. The highlight is Columbia Glacier, which is the second largest tidewater glacier in America.



Peter Pan Seafood, in the background above is a seafood processing and market, where we will be stopping to buy some more fish. We ate most of the fish we already bought in Homer. It was all delicious, especially the Smoked Halibut chowder I made, which Joe said was to die for.
It had been cloudy but the sun was starting to show itself once in awhile.
We went by the Alyeska Pipeline Terminal. The 800 mile long pipeline ends here is Valdez. Since 911 the tankers carrying the oil to other American ports, are escorted out of the harbor. Of course, this is also famous for the 1989 oil spill which is still to this day recovering as there is still oil in the waters.
We saw a gaggle of sea otters. Someone counted 39, I think.
We saw sea lions and porpoises, though they were too fast for me to get a good picture.

The one above reminds me of Savannah when she sleeps with her little pink tongue sticking slightly out.



The Columbia Glacier was the last of Alaska's tidewater glaciers to go into a retreat. The retreat started in 1978 and by 83 had moved off its terminal moraine, loosing an increasing amount of ice. There are hugh chunks of ice everywhere the closer you get to the glacier. Sometimes the boat is not able to get close enough to even see the glacier due to the amount of ice. We were lucky to be able to get close this day. I had read some blogs where people weren't able to get close and so know it isn't just something the tour guide says. It is really amazing to be floating through the water and hear the sound of the ice as it hits the boat. Do I hear the Titanic theme music in my head.




You can see the moraine above that shows some of how far the glacier has already retreated.





It was very cold and our fingers and face started getting numb as we stayed on deck to watch the incredible sights.







Above is a piece of one of the ice bergs. We also saw more sea life, including the puffins, which I love.




And waterfalls.

Another great trip in Alaska.

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