Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Alaska Cruise Vacation - Day at Sea with a View of The Hubbard Glacier!

So what did you think of our tour of Skagway, the Alaskan Sled-Dog
camp and trip aboard the White Pass Railway I shared in my last post?
Pretty cool, huh? Well, if you think that was cool, you're going to love
this day at sea, with viewing of The Hubbard Glacier, because...
This ice is all about the cool! In fact, it was all about the COLD when I arrived
to my favorite spot on the boat at 6:30AM. I was up and out early, to ensure I
had a front row seat to take in this tidewater glacier, located roughly 200 miles
northwest of Juneau. But before I show you Hubbard Glacier - I have to tell you
about a guy I met - Seemed that every time I popped up to this deck, he was there!

No matter what time of day or night, we always seemed to get here at the same
time! After a little small-talk and a few offers exchanged to take photos of each
other against the scenic Alaskan backdrop, we finally struck up a conversation
where I learned that he and his husband were cruising Alaska with his in-laws,
who had already made this trip - Which is why he always seemed to be taking in
the sights alone. Of course, I could totally relate because my better-half was not
as willing as I was to run up to this deck every five minutes to check out how the
scenery may have changed since the last time we were there. Or, to scope the sea
for whales, which is something I did constantly! So, without further ado, I would
like to introduce you to my new friend, Chris who happens to be from Houston!
Chris is a great guy and we really hit it off... Mostly because
he appreciates cruise-people watching as much as I do!

The plan for this day at sea (referred to as, cruising) was to arrive
at Hubbard Glacier at 7AM and idle the ship in front of it for roughly
four hours, so as to give everyone aboard an opportunity to see it!
Of course, we were all hoping to see lots of calving! Calving... What's that?
Yes, cows have calves but glaciers have icebergs, which are chunks of ice that
break off glaciers and fall into the water. When this happens, it's called Calving!
As we found out at the Mendenhall Glacier, calving makes a lot of really
cool, loud noises; unlike any we have ever heard before. So we were hoping
to hear and see lots of it at this glacier, which is called the Sleeping Giant!
Calving occurs when chunks of ice break off at the terminus, or the end of
the glacier. Ice breaks because the forward motion of a glacier makes the
terminus unstable. The resulting chunks of ice are called Icebergs! Now...
Icebergs can be really small or they can be really big. At least one has been
seen that is as big as the state of Rhode Island! Icebergs also come in a variety
of color. White icebergs have lots of air pockets inside. Blue icebergs are very
dense. Greenish-black icebergs may have calved off the bottom of the glacier,
while darkly-striped icebergs carry moraine (rocks/soil) debris from the glacier!
Now, I'm not one of those bucket-list people that chases things she believes must
be seen or done before we die... However, I will tell you that standing in front of,
on top of and inside of a glacier, like we did, is something everyone should do!
It's so pretty... Something only God himself could create!

So what do I know about Hubbard Glacier? Well, I know Hubbard Glacier
is seventy-six miles long, by seven miles wide, 500 feet tall and sits 350
feet above the water where it meets the bay. In all, this active glacier
is 1,350 square miles of translucent ice and, quite the sight to see!
Although I never felt that we were ever in any danger, icebergs calved by
tidewater glaciers can be dangerous. An iceberg over 80 kilometers long
and 40 kilometers wide broke off from the Larsen Sea Shelf in Antarctica
and is still being monitored by satellites so as to keep ships that navigate
it waters safe. Here in Alaska, in Cordova, the Child's Glacier once calved,
resulting in a 12-foot high tidal wave that almost wiped out some tourists
that were watching from a small boat. The tallest wave caused by calving
at Child's Glacier was twenty feet. So do heed the warnings if you go see it!

As we made our way closer to Hubbard Glacier, the ice in the water
made it sound like we were cruising through a giant bowl of Rice
Krispies because of all the air bubbles that pop as the ice melts!

While Chris and I began the morning on the deck alone, it didn't take
long for the rest of the ship's passengers to pack in closely around us
to take in the sights and thundering sounds of Hubbard Glacier too!
And boy, did she thunder!
It was fascinating and a real thrill to watch!
Since it is not a port-stop, I didn't pay any attention to Hubbard Glacier
being on the itinerary when I booked this cruise. However, now that we
have seen it, I consider this just as exciting as any shore excursion. Well,
maybe not the Mendenhall Glacier Ice Cave one in Juneau... But close!
Just as we were instructed to watch for breath (steam vapor) on the surface
of the water as warning that whales might soon pop up, so were we advised to
listen for sounds of popping, cracking and thunder as a precursor to calving!
After watching for a while, someone aboard the ship announced they were
deploying the rescue boat to retrieve a piece of glacier ice to carve later!
How cool is that? That we might be able to touch a piece of Hubbard glacier!
As our crew fished for glaciers for a while... Chris and I
parted the crowd to take more photos of each other!
Once they located the perfect chunk of ice to bring on board...
The crew worked to reel it in and, made they it look easy in the process!
Pretty soon, much sooner than anyone wanted,
it was time for us to depart from Hubbard Glacier...
Who put on a great show and made it well worth the effort to be out
on deck in the cold Alaska air before seven o'clock in the morning!
After breakfast, which was actually a very late lunch for us, I set
out to find that big chunk of ice the crew had brought aboard...
I watched for a while as this guy beat away at it with his chisel;
and then, as he called in reinforcements after making no progress!
Pretty soon, we had a whole team of people trying to figure out just how
to carve this massive hunk of ice into the ice carving the crew promised
to unveil to us around dinner time. I overheard this guy on the phone
ask if someone might have ax or a chainsaw they could run up to him!
Unfortunately, this piece of Hubbard Glacier never became anything
more than it was before it was plucked from the bay. It sat in that
spot on the deck for the remainder of our cruise... While our crew
turned their attention to things they were more equipped to carve!
Not quite the same as seeing part of the Hubbard Glacier
transformed into something even more ah-mazing that it was...
But at least it helped pass the time of another day spent at sea!
It sure beat the movie being shown on board that day, which
only served to help us catch up on the sleep we missed that morning!
I sure hope you enjoyed seeing The Hubbard Glacier as much
as we did and, that you stay tuned for our next adventure...
Seward Alaska!  Where we were booked into a 10-hour excursion
to Prince William Sound to see glaciers, whales and other life on the sea!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the cruise and your new hobby!! Andrea


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