A Last Sun-y Day

Our last day on ship began early morning as we floated in the smooth mirror of the ocean a few miles from the Hubbard Glacier, a surprisingly noisy and active glacier.  The still of the water was paired with cracking thunder as the ice calved and groaned.  You’ll see some random hats and strangers in these pictures because it seemed like the entire ship was on the front decks to catch an image (or one hundred) of our last glacier (though, hopefully, not the last glacier).  At one point, I heard a woman remark in a familiar marital-tone, “Be careful honey, don’t drop the camera or we’ll lose the 200 photos you just took.”  Looking back at just the photos I took with my phone (and not counting the ones Ned took with “real” cameras), I can completely sympathize: it’s that kind of experience. 

Look at the tiny white ball of the sun forcing its way through the heavy clouds.  The day before, the park ranger told us that these are the conditions that make glaciers: dense, wet, cold weather attaching to craggy rocks.  It was cool to think of ourselves as floating in a glacier laboratory.

My tell-tale yellow headband (cannot abide cold ears!).  With binoculars, I could see the detail in the surface of the glacier: the fissures, the dark rocks, the variations in color, the layers, and more.  It was like peering into another world.

Away from the glacier some blue sky escaped as the clouds turned more wisp-y.  And, look at that reflection–just gorgeous!

We lost track of the kids that morning as the ship rotated and we peeled off periodically for coffee, tea, and brekky.

Never enough glacier!  As I took these pictures, I was standing next to a woman and her young son armed with binoculars who were keen and enthusiastic “calving” spotters.  They were almost vibrating with excitement.  Again, that mirrored surface is simply extraordinary.

We found one child; really, he found us, with his usual, “What’s up, mah bois!” greeting.

Goodbye, glacier.

And, now, a tribute to our one cruise ship vice: bingo. We couldn’t resist one last try at winning something–anything–at bingo.  Surprise … we didn’t.  Sidenote: Harper’s wearing one of her favorite hoodies–a Cleveland rocks sweatshirt I bought on a clearance rack at the airport last winter when my flight was diverted there and I had to drive home and didn’t have a winter coat with me.  I offered it to her and she wears it nonstop.

By lunch, the sun was out, and we had a table overlooking marshmallow fluff clouds.

We lazed around until dinner, when we found ourselves on the reverse side of the photographer’s backdrop–believe it or not, these aren’t real mountains.  Those of you with eagle eyes may have noticed that Penn has been wearing this one shirt for some time.  He will wear it again later in Juneau, when a woman shouts “Gamecocks!” at him. (That’s for you, Gaby.)  No, it was not ever washed.  Boys.

After dinner, we went back to pack up our bags for an early morning off the Sun.  That left our rooms fairly clean, so here’s a look at where we spent our week at sea.  If you’re reading this blog and have ever thought about taking a cruise to Alaska, here’s our short advice.  Most of the boats go to the same ports, and every ship offers lots of open decks and big windows.  You really won’t spend much time in your room beyond sleeping, so don’t spend much on your cabin.

For us, the cruise was a means to an end: to see Alaska.  And, do see Alaska.  It’s ridiculously and endlessly breathtakingly beautiful.  So, goodbye, Sun! We did things we never thought we could or would, saw things we never thought we’d see, and had another once in a lifetime experience.

But we weren’t done yet 🙂

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