Cruising Prince William Sound

August 22, 2012

What a glorious morning!  The sun is out and the sky is so blue, making the mountains appear as they are three dimensional.

While Dick & I walk on the boardwalk overlooking the Valdez Harbor, we come across a fish cleaning table where men are washing down their salmon and halibut from this morning’s catch and fileting them.  Further down, we notice a throng of people boarding a tour boat so we enter the building close by and inquire.  Five minutes later we are joining the group on the “Spirit Glacier” for a 7 hour cruise on Prince William Sound on route to the Columbia Glacier.

On the excursion Captain Stephen narrates and informs us of significant events that have occurred along the Sound, particularly the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.  He identifies sea otters, Stellar sea lions, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoises, puffin and one amazing whale!  At first Stephen says it is a sperm whale, but as we approach, the mottled skin on his back tells us he is an old gray whale and perhaps injured because there is redness on the left fluke of his tail.  I’ll ask our friend Don to confirm this when I show him my photos.

As we continue and head toward the glacier, I am surrounded by a mixture of languages.  German, Italian and Japanese.  One Japanese young lady is applying make-up to her face and the others in her party are texting!  I guess wherever you travel there will always be similarities.

Lunch is served and a young crew man hands out trays to everyone.  He then proceeds to set down hot cups of clam chowder, minestrone soup, bagels with cream cheese and Oreo cookies.  Beverages are also available.

When the glacier comes into view, I head out to the bow to get a closer look.  Stephen does a great job of steering the boat through the chunks of ice that surround us.  The crunching noise as he maneuvers in and out of the icebergs is a bit alarming.  There is a stout, gray haired lady next to me who is part of the crew who serves beverages and cooks the meals.  She is knowledgeable on the facts of the glacier and gives us a lesson on geography and history.  The cold wind is blowing and my lips are becoming numb.  I find it hard to push the shutter down on my camera.  I am wearing 2 long sleeve shirts, I short sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a jacket and I am freezing, so I scoot off the bow and down below to warmer quarters.

On our return to the harbor, we converse with Sherry and Ron.  The married couple reside in Colorado Springs, are both retired school teachers and their journey is similar to ours, also having started out in May and planning a return in September.  Their mode of travel is a 4 wheel drive pick-up truck which pulls a pop-up trailer.  They spent the last 2 days in a Valdez hotel due to unpleasant weather so I feel fortunate that we chose such a beautiful day.  Sherry and Ron look like they belong together.  Both are short in stature and around their necks, thick black straps support their top of the line Nikon cameras.  The straps have Yellowstone printed on them and we find out they were hosts at the park for 4 years.  Covering Ron’s head is a tan baseball cap with Amber Alaska printed on it, so I don’t know the color of his hair or if he is bald.  His wife, Sherry is wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and her brown hair, which has some gray wisps flying around, is tied in a short pony tail.

It is now 8:30 (still plenty of daylight) and after enjoying a tasty meal by the harbor, we pass by the fishing tables once again and observe the fish caught at the end of the day.  I stroll back to our campground leaving Dick to enjoy the fishing stories on the dock.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nina
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 06:23:31

    Joyce I have not found your articles to sound like travel guides. They are most interesting, humorous, colorful, informative. I do chuckle at the comments about you and Richard. Love, NINA


    Aug 27, 2012 @ 00:31:37

    I am so happy for & jealous of you guys.
    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


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