Sunday, September 27, 2015

Alaska - Day 7, Dawes Glacier (Endicott Arm)

Saturday, September 27

Weather:  COLD (low to mid '40sF)
Drizzle, some rain

Entering Endicott Arm
Around 7 a.m., there was an announcement that instead of the Tracy Arm, the ship would be allowed to sail up the Endicott Arm for only the second time all summer. Ours would be the only cruise ship (or any other kind of ship, for that matter) there.

So we got ready quickly and went upstairs for some breakfast as we made our way into the narrower and narrower fjord. Happily, the water is very deep! The view from our balcony was pretty spectacular, but we went up top to join hundreds of enthusiastic, taller-than-I people for a more panoramic view. Come on, people. Let the short people see!

Intriguing icebergs!
Lots of little icebergs were going by, so we heard we might see some calving of the glacier. 
And the glacier! So blue! So incredibly blue! I've seen quite a few glaciers in various shades from gray to pale blue. But Dawes Glacier! Breathtaking! A deep, bright blue. Absolutely beautiful. It was blowing a gale, cold, and drizzling up on deck. I had a hard time holding my camera steady for photos. I hoped they would turn out well, but it didn't matter. The images are indelibly etched in my mind and will stay with me. 

Dawes Glacier
We were very close to the glacier, and it indeed calved right in front of us, four times! What a sight and sound. The ice creaks and cracks, and then...crash! Splash! Giant ice cubes plop with a roar into the frigid waters, creating a wave that we felt strongly as it reached the ship. 

Breezy and wet!
And then the captain turned the ship. How, I don't know. I guess I had assumed we would back out of there or something. It looked as though the back of the ship was going to scrape the granite wall of the cliff's edge as it came around. The distance must have been greater than it appeared...right?

Enjoying some cocoa on the wet deck.
We warmed up with the hot chocolate that was being provided on deck and continued to watch on the huge movie screen, which had been displaying the entire spectacle. As we stood with our second cup, looking up, a bald eagle swooped down and buzzed the deck right above our heads. It took our breath away.!

We returned to our room and sat on the balcony, watching the untouched and wild fjord passing by as we made our way back out to sea. Waterfalls. Misty Mountains. Amazing. Gorgeous. Spell-bindingly spectacular. A bit of meadowy shoreline appeared, and I hoped to see a bear. But no. Not this time. Not even with the binoculars.

Seals, just hanging out.
It was so cold out there. Bring layers. Bring your waterproof parka shell. Bring your packable down coat or jacket. Bring your gloves, scarf, and hat. But if you forget all of that, no worries. You can purchase it on board with the ship's logo on it, and pretty affordably, too.

The weather is very much like camping at Glacier Park or the Canadian Rockies. But the on board experience is pretty far from camping in the woods. Unless you eat only at the buffet, which I don't recommend because the dining room experience is fabulous, you'll also need "smart casual" clothes and "excursion" clothes and "formal night" clothes. This is why people used to travel with trunks.

There was lots more of the day to go, and more ship movement was expected as we neared waters that were open to the ocean. A storm was about, and we were to feel its effects. Thus far, though, we'd been sheltered on glassy, smooth waters.

Lots of water and blue ice!
As I made a quick diary entry, some dolphins and an Orca whale went by. My day was complete, and it was only 12:30. Two or three more dolphin pods passed as we ate our lunch with a couple of lovely ladies from Aptos. You meet the nicest people on cruise ships. Of course, there are also those who elbow their way past you to block your view and hog the rail so you can't see if you're short. But I digress. 

Mark and Judy went to a specialty restaurant tonight, so there were six of us at the table for dinner. It was Italian night, which reminded me of my mother. I told stories about her cooking, my favorite dishes, and so on. We talked about Italian food and restaurants and the importance of family. And we lifted our glasses of Chianti in a toast to Mom. She would have liked that.

Here's what we ate:  The hubby had an appetizer of marinated seafood, while I enjoyed prosciutto and melon. We couldn't decide which soup to have, so we tried the minestrone along with something cold called "Peach Bellini." Come on. You know you would have tried it, too. His entree was scallops topped with mashed potatoes and placed under the broiler to brown. I had veal scaloppini, which was served with mashed potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms. Delicious! For dessert, he had "Cassata ala Ceciliana" (three layers of ice cream and candied fruit served as a pie slice), and I had the excellent Tiramisu.

The show tonight was a song and dance production, "Destination Anywhere." It was a celebration of travel to exotic destinations. The dancers were really good. The singers were good, too, but the dancers were amazing.

At the Vista Lounge, it was country-western night. We played trivia and watched some line dancing. 

As we entered Gulf of Alaska waters, the ship started to slip and slide a little. We were going faster, of course, but the seas were also "moderate," with 5 - 7.5 foot swells. At least, that was the last report I'd heard. But, by bedtime, it sure was feeling bumpier than it had earlier. No worries. It was a stellar day!

I thought about my mother a lot today. She loved to sail across the Atlantic. The sea days especially bring her to mind. I thought of how she always picked a particular lounge chair on the deck and tipped the steward to save it for her, bring her coffee, and provide a blanket. I remember he (they were all men in those days) always did that for her. When she appeared, her chair was always prepared and ready for her. It makes me smile to remember these things. You're awesome, Mom.

Super bummed that my calving video was "too big" to post. You would have loved it! But you can check YouTube and see some others!

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