Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back To Alaska

Back to Alaska---Juneau, this time.  Sometime in the early morning hours before we reached port in Juneau, there was an earthquake in Alaska.  We didn't know about it until after the fact.    Once we arrived in port, we easily met up with our tour guide for our next excursion.

While all of our excursions were really wonderful, I think this one was my favorite.  We took a bus ride out to Auke Bay with Cam, a professional nature photographer.  The morning was very overcast again with low-hanging clouds, and just as we arrived at the marina, we saw bald eagles in the trees nearby (I knew there were 2 birds, but didn't realize there were actually 3 in the tree until I edited this photo).
Captain Jen was in charge of the boat
while Cam was in charge of educating us about the area, whales and photography.
Once out in the bay, we happened upon a small island with more eagles.  There we learned that these were young birds, probably about 3 years old, since they didn't yet have white heads.
It wasn't long until we spotted our first humpback whale.
We saw the spout first and then watched for the dives that would lead to him showing his fluke (tail).
Unfortunately, this particular whale chose put on the best part of the show just as he passed on the other side of this boat.
But, not to fear, there was soon another whale spotted.   I moved to the front of the boat to capture the show with my camera and we were not disappointed.  It was so exciting and such fun!!!
We moved on a little further and once again the same whale appeared and put on a wonderful show for us!

I could have stayed out there all day watching the whales, but of course, we had to move along.
Next, we went to watch some sea lions who consider this buoy to be their personal property.
In the background was an island with a beautiful lighthouse that is being renovated to become an inn.
The sea lions were so animated and Captain Jen moved around the buoy, allowing us to get shots from several different angles.
Just look at that huge glacier in the distance!  Amazing nature!!
As we returned to the marina, we were able to stop for a few more pictures near the shore, where there was a whole group of whales.
And then as we were speeding along, trying to keep from being late, we had a very near miss in the boat---a whale suddenly appeared out of nowhere right in our path, causing Captain Jen to abruptly swerve to one side to avoid hitting the whale.  It was pretty startling, but we were thankful for her skillful maneuvering.

Once back at the marina, we took a short bus ride to a nature walk near the Mendenhall Glacier.
As we walked along, Cam taught us about the eco system of the rainforest and about the history of the glacier itself.
He pointed out where a bear had recently been rummaging. . .
Steep Creek, where salmon return each year to spawn. . . 
 . . . and gave us lots of photography pointers.
The walk was wonderful and Cam was very patient, knowing that it is hard to rush a group of photographers, despite being on a tight schedule.
As we passed over a creek, Cam gave me gave me pointers on capturing the flow of water using a slow shutter speed.
Our hike ended up at the lookout point for the Mendenhall Glacier and the nearby falls, which were pretty amazing.
At Cam's suggestion, Ron and I made a quick detour from the group to see this beaver dam, while waiting for the others to board the bus

The bus dropped us off in downtown Juneau, where we shopped and browsed a bit before returning to the ship.
It was in Juneau that Ron wandered into a fur shop, looking for some sort of mitten that could be used to keep my broken hand warm.  Thinking that he'd found the perfect item, he picked up one particular object and surveyed it to see if he thought it would fit.  Knowing that what he was actually holding was designed to keep another body part warm (I'd seen it displayed on a male mannequin previously), I was trying to get him to put down the "mitten" and move on, but that didn't happen until a salesman came up to assist him and Ron realized what he had.  It was so funny!  In fact, we've gotten quite a few laughs about it ever since!!

As we headed back out to sea, we were able to enjoy the view from our balcony again
and even caught sight of more whales.
It was a wonderful day!

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