Monday, May 23, 2011

Alaska Trip: Day 4

Woke up a bit sore today from our hike yesterday.  It brought back memories of college and crazy throwers workouts with Robert, and I realized I missed being sore!  Definitely going to get back into working out regularly once I'm back home.

After breakfast, we went out in the skiff to get a bit closer to a humpback whale.  Instead of taking photos (which never seem to turn out well), I decided to try out the new flip video camera and otherwise just enjoy the sighting.  The whale stayed pretty far away, so we headed back to the boat.  Then we re-deployed (some in kayaks and Mom and I in the skiff) to explore the area.  We saw a ton of seals both in the water and out on the rocks (which was unusual from what Denee told us).  We also saw a few bald eagles.  I've seen more bald eagles in this trip than in my entire life before.  It's amazing and wonderful to see so many thriving in the wild.

Before lunch, we settled in to watch part of a documentary on bears and salmon that Karl thought would be of interest.  We were all especially intrigued after our recent bear info & safety class where we learned how to tell the difference between brown bears, grizzly bears, and black bears along with how to behave in response to a possible close encounter.  It's important to know the difference since if you're attacked by a black bear, you should fight for your life, but if you're attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, it's best to play dead until the bear leaves!

Anyway, a few minutes into the documentary, I spotted some Dall's Porpoises right next to the boat.  We all rushed outside to the bow and Karl told us that sometimes they like to "bow ride."  It was amazing to lean over and see them playing in the wake of the boat along the bow.  I'm just glad I didn't lean too far over and initiate our first man (or woman) overboard drill :-)

We went back in to keep watching the documentary until someone spotted two brown bears on a nearby beach.  Of course we had to go out and investigate!  I ended up spotting 4 bald eagles and a few seals along with the bears.

After lunch, we had the option of going on another hike.  Everyone else went, but I opted to go out on a skiff ride with Denee instead.  We had a nice little trip!  We saw a few more seals, a river otter, numerous birds (including more eagles), and even a house hidden among the trees on one island.  We got back to the ship around 3:30pm to rendezvous with the hikers, but they ended up getting back a lot later than originally planned.

Just before dinner, we spotted some humpback whales and we stopped to investigate.  One of the whales was splashing around close to the boat and ended up surfacing right off the bow after being under the water.  It really surprised Karl, Geraldine, and me as we were out on the bow at the much so we didn't react fast enough to get many photos!  It stayed right next to the boat and of course my camera battery chose then to die.  I raced up to my room to get the one charging and got a few more shots.  It was an amazing experience.

Once we arrived at our overnight destination, Dirk took a few of us went for a quick skiff ride.  We saw some falls with a fish ladder (to make it easier for salmon returning to spawn).  On the way back to the boat, we spotted a humpback whale we saw on arriving and Dirk took us out a bit closer.  We observed for a while (and Dirk shared his "special" whale call with us) and then headed back to the boat.  I ended the evening hanging out on the observation deck near the hot tub and took some sunset photos reflecting on the water.  All in all it was a pretty eventful day!

Photos below and video to come later (when I figure it out).  As usual, click to enlarge photos...

View of Mountains

Below are some shots of our cabin on the boat...

Here's my bed...
And yes, I slept with all 6 pillows (one hidden under the covers), though I used a couple just to cuddle while sleeping :-)

Mom's Bed

The bathroom in our cabin

The door to the cabin

Photos of the close encounter with the humpback whale

Splashing About

Sunset reflection on the water

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