Mission- Journey to Alaska. Evade death by Bear or Mosquito. Return Safely. Status- COMPLETED.
16.06.2009 75 °F
Miles traveled approximately 5,000. First Installment.
Sara and I have returned from Alaska after a fantastic eight days. First of all, mad props to Alaska Airlines. They helped put some joy back in flying. The service was great. Their planes were new, comfortable, and spacious. Not to mention the young man who shared our row had on an Insectosaurus T-Shirt!! The staff helped us get on earlier flight to avoid a long lay-over and even helped us deal with a chronic high decibel snorer. After landing in Anchorage, we were stunned by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and trees. We started off taking a lot of pictures while we adjusted to the Alaskan environs.
Highlights of the First Three days…
The first highlight was Glacier Brew house in Anchorage. Their microbrews were delicious and the halibut fantastic. The ambiance was very Alaskan with great amounts of wood and a stone fireplace in the center of the restaurant.
Second highlight: Drive to Kenai Peninsula. The drive to Kenai took us through the Turnagain Arm and down the peninsula. We were surrounded by snow-capped peaks and clear blue mountain lakes. We saw our first big game- moose. Each turn brought new vistas, each more beautiful than the last.
Third highlight was the Seward cruise on Major Marine. The cruise took us on a circuit of Resurrection bay and a few of the surrounding islands and glaciers. The cool sea air and sunny skies made for ideal cruising. The onboard prime rib and salmon buffet delighted our taste-buds. Sara and I viewed an astonishing variety of wild-life during the cruise, the largest being Dahl Porpoise, Stellar Sea lion, and Harbor seal. We also saw an abundance of Sea Otters. A great variety of all birds accompanied us on the whole voyage. (puffins, pettiwakes, bald eagle, etc.) At several points the porpoise played alongside the boat showering us with spray and giving us a close up view of their athleticism and playfulness. The cruise had seen a humpback whale the previous day, but we did not have the luck to see them on our cruise. Killer whales also cruise this waters, but our cruise did not see any.
This amazing gathering of sea life is brought about by the unique combination of factors on the coast of southern Alaska. 1. Deep Glacier cut bays and inlets. Resurrection bay, for example, is over 500 feet deep. 2. The runoff from the snow and local rivers dumps a great amount of nutrients into these waters every year. 3. Fierce tidal and summer storm energy stirs the nutrients in the summer as the amazing wealth of sunlight shines down on these waters (about 20 hours of daylight) at this time of year. This brings about a great phytoplankton and zooplankton bloom during Alaskan summer which forms the base of ocean food pyramid. This provides food for the herring as they spawn and their fry (a baby herring) afterward. The sea lions and porpoise feast on the herring. Even humpback whales get in on the action. They can eat up to 1,000 lbs of herring a day. This summer explosion of life extends more than a thousand miles out to sea as the summer progresses creating a wealth of life of greater mass than is contained in the Amazon!!
Just to whet your appetite, next installment…Denali and the two American cultures we discovered there.
Alaska part two to come soon.