Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Greatest Day Ever Invented

The following refers to day seven of our journey: Friday, June 26th.

When Hunter and I stopped in Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory, we visited a small lake that boasted a few float planes. Hunter fawned over them and took tons of photos, while I made an executive decision: we would be taking a flight on one of these in Anchorage. Hunter made some half-hearted attempts to dissuade me, saying the cost was prohibitive and such, but I had made my decision. I had several indisputable facts on my side: the first and foremost being that there is no better way to see the highlights of an area when time is limited. There is so much to see and do in the Anchorage area, and there was absolutely no way we would make a dent in it. At least this way we could accomplish more than we would otherwise. The second fact is that Hunter loves planes. He especially loves float planes, with his ultimate favorite being the Beaver. If there is a chance that Hunter could fly in a Beaver, there’s no way he could pass that up.

We got up that morning and showered…man, do I love a good shower! It was so nice to have that bit of normalcy back in my life. We headed out and reached the flightseeing office at 11:00 am. Our flight wasn’t until 1:00, so we had some time to kill. Fortunately there was a flight museum next door, so we spent some time there. It was a bit small but had some cool exhibits with many interesting stories about some of the early bush pilots. After the museum we checked in at the flighsteeing office and learned we would not be flying in a Beaver, darn it. But truth be told, I’m not really sure it dampened Hunter’s enthusiasm any…we were just so gosh darn excited to fly in a float plane and see the sights! What a cool adventure!

The time came to board the plane, which turned out to be a Cessna Caravan. There were five other tourists, the pilot and us.
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We sat in the back of the plane and grinned like idiots as it taxied across Lake Hood, preparing for takeoff. Before we knew it we were in the air, and I was on the verge of crying for joy.
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We flew over Turnagain Arm, which is an amazing grey color because of the glacial silt.
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We flew down through Prince William Sound,
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and to our surprise and excitement we saw two humpback whales splashing in the water below.
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Our pilot said he had never seen any whales this far in, especially two of them! So I guess we were pretty lucky. It was an amazing sight; they would splash the water with their fins, and they were also spouting. Immediately before they would surface, you could see their bulk just beneath the water and the sheer size of these things is astounding. It was difficult to get a true scale of their proportions, but it was obvious that they were massive. I was completely thrilled to witness this sight.

The views were incredible from our vantage point:
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Our primary destination was Columbia Glacier. 090626_4875
We saw several smaller glaciers on our way there, and I am so intrigued by the vivid blueness of their crevasses. The snow here is covered by a dirty looking substance that is actually volcanic ash, from Mount Redoubt.
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So some patches of the glaciers appear quite dingy and dirty, while other patches are mostly white. 090626_4940090626_4949090626_4960090626_4725090626_4754090626_4761090626_4972
And wherever there is a crack or break in the glacier; anything that allows you to see into the depths of it, you’ll find the incredible blue hues that seem so out of place. 090626_4745090626_4953
This intense blue is also found in the small pools of water that dot the tops of the glacier; some of these pools are so strongly colored that I could swear someone poured food coloring into them! It’s gorgeous. While touring the glacier we were able to glimpse several goats, a bunch of sea lions, and even a bear! I’d say we got our share of wildlife viewing today! :)

We landed next to a small island called Jenny Island, and deplaned for a bit.
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The beach is not sandy at all, but rather consists of medium-sized grayish rocks. They are round and flat; perfect skipping rocks! Hunter sent a few of them skipping across the water, with impressive results. We wandered along the pebbled beach and then ventured into the vegetation. It was virtually impossible to get very far without a machete; the vegetation is so thick and lush that it’s very difficult to forge a path. We marveled at the exotic nature of the plants, and then it was time to board the plane again.

On our way back to Anchorage, we spotted our two humpback whales again.

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As if that weren’t enough, we also spotted a third one! What an awe-inspiring sight. The entire experience left me breathless with wonder. What an amazing, exotic, incredible place. I still can’t believe I’m actually here!

4 comments:

The Carter Family: said...

Wow! Those pictures are incredible!! You are actually convincing me that it would be awesome to visit there someday!! It is fun to read about your adventures and travel home safely!!!

Brett and Andrea Evers said...

Awesome! Just Awesome! What an incredible experience.

ang said...

amazing amazing amazing!!!!! you are so lucky!

"grinned like idiots" LOLOLOLOLOL

Nathan and Esther said...

what amazing pictures!! that is so cool!