After we took a tour of the Tracey Arm Fjord (at 6am in the morning), we relaxed, had some breakfast, I read a terrible book (Catalyst) and then had some lunch. You know cruises. It time to eat and then...time to eat some more. In the late afternoon our boat docked in Juneau, and then it was time for our whale watch!
In Juneau we had to take a tender from the boat to the port. The last time I took a tender, it was little more than a rocky pontoon boat that was tossed about the waves like it was a piece of paper. Not these tenders, oh no - they were like mini submarines/buses and were AWESOME.
As they went through the water, they actually looked like a orange bus, just driving through Alaska waters. They were pretty much dope. As dope as a water bus can be.
Ryan got to sit right on the edge between the magic water bus and freezing cold hypothermic Titanic water.
We were in Juneau. It was stunning. Breathtaking. There were seaplanes landing all around, skipping over the water, their engines whirring over the lapping water. There are four seaplanes to every human in Alaska, it seems. Excuse me, are you perhaps in need of a seaplane? Go to Juneau.
A young, handsome man greeted us holding a sign that said "Alaska Galore" and herded us onto a bus. He could have been a serial killer. To call us lemmings would be giving us too much credit. We just followed him blindly. "Would you like to see a whale?" Yes. Would you like to come into my basement where I will make your face into a hat? Yes.
The bus drove us out to a quaint little harbor. The sky was misty and overcast, but there was no rain. Not yet. We were greeted by our captain, who was a LADY captain. She made this very clear to us when she showed us her pink pirate flag and told us about all the chocolate on board. Pink pirate flag is not a code word for something dirty. She literally had a pink pirate flag.
We climbed on her little boat, and soon we were absolutely SOARING through the water. The back of the boat, where we stood in open air, had a very low ledge between the open, very cold ocean and the boat floor. It was equal parts terrifying and fun.
. Have I mentioned that Alaska is beautiful? Well, it is. More than I ever dreamed it could be. There have only been two places that have ever made me think "Maybe this is Eden."
One is Kauai, and the other is Alaska.
From the boat we could see the edge of the Mendenhall Glacier. It was massive, and the put the Tracey Arm to shame by it's vast size.
The rain started. It added to the ambiance of the whole excursion. And the hypothermia that was slowly leaking inside of my snug LL Bean jacket. My trip to Alaska could have been sponsored by LL Bean. It sort of was. Unofficially. I had on an LL Bean shirt, a thick hooded sweatshirt/coat and then on top of that, a LL Bean windbreaker rain jacket. It's kind of ridiculous, but I LOVE their clothing. I was drenched but feeling so alive. Both Ryan and I kept grinning at each other like idiots across the boat as it flew over the open water. It was just so FUN, so exhilarating.
I NEED A BOAT.
After about ten minutes, we began seeing whales. Humpbacks, marked by the black color and their picture perfect tail fins. We saw a mother nursing her calf, and a quick moving pod of three whales and one clever sea-lion who kept fooling us into thinking we were seeing whales. Wherever the whales would go, the sea-lion would follow and then surface and we would all be like "WHALE!" and then "Nevermind, it's just that dumb old sea-lion."
Would you like to see a picture of a whale?
I know this picture above is blowing you away right now. "Wow, what an amazing picture of....a black spot on the water...." Unfortunately, this is the best picture I have of the whale watch. These aren't active whales that leap in the air, and they aren't killer whales where they stick their heads out in a big group. Humpback whales barely surface and then you will see a back, followed by their tale. In the past on whale watches, your boat could go RIGHT UP to the whales and you could look down on them, but laws have changed - for the better. Boats were hitting whales, killing whales and effecting their mating habits. So now boats have to stay a certain distance away from the whales.
I'm good with that. Besides, the shore excursion wasn't about getting that perfect whale picture. It was about the experience, and experiencing it with my husband. We heard them breathing, and the giant whoosh of air that comes out of their blowhole right before they surface. We felt the rain on our face and the wild swaying of the boat and learned about these amazing creatures from our Pirate queen.
They were super annoyed with us. In fact, one stuck his tongue out at me. That one, in the middle. He was a cheeky sort of fellow and totally blew a raspberry at me. What a jerk!
He stared me down, like "Why are you people even out here?" No lie, I was intimidated by this sea-lion. I'm going to guess he's the Regina George of sea-lions.
We made it back to our boat safe and sound. The whale watch was over, and it was time for our daily soak in the warm Thassolotherapy Pool, mostly because I was starting to look at bit likes someone who did bad ghost makeup at a Halloween party.
Alaska in all it's glory, captured by some sea-lions with attitude and a black dot in the water. Perfect.