Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sailing Towards Anchorage

Bumpy Sailing Towards Anchorage

I've done pretty well so far in being able to post updates both to Cruise Critic and my blog without the use of the ship's insanely expensive and slow internet service. I even figured out, with suggestions from Kazu and others, how to upload full-size photos inside my posts. I'm able to do that, thanks in large part, to the use of my iPhone. The phone serves as my primary camera and I utilize the Notes function to draft my posts ahead of time and also live as I'm experiencing it. 

What I rely on to make the uploads happen, is decent cell service in the ports at which we stop. Icy Strait Point was a difficult port to use cell service. Interestingly enough, I had much better service out on the Strait itself during our whale watching tour. That enabled me to upload some fresh photos but little else. 

Now, I'm playing a little catch-up. Our port call at Icy Strait was too short!!  It's a great little port, with interesting options on how to spend your time. We called there from 7:00 AM with all aboard at 1:30 PM. 

It takes about 10-15 minutes to stroll from the ship and through the visitor center out to the start of some beautiful walking trails as well as the meeting point for some boat tours and bus tours into the nearby town of Hoonah (population 700). 

Once at the meeting point, called the Excursions Hub, you'll find yourself at the old tender dock area and the salmon processing plant, no longer in operation but a museum of sorts now. There are a couple of little restaurants and a number of really nice ships carrying unique Alaskan-made goods.  

Most of the shop owners are the artists that make the items they sell. The best place for unique jewelry is here, in my opinion. It's expensive, though. But the premium you pay, I think, makes it kind of worth it to be able to talk to the person who made those earrings you just bought and see how proud they are of their craft and what inspired them to make the items. 

There's a very pretty beach next to the old tender dock where you can walk up and down and ponder the serenity and beauty of the area.  There's also a nice beach/harbor trail that will take you all the way to Hoonah. 

For the adventure minded, you can ride a 4x4 up into the forest, kayak on the waters looking for brown bears on the shoreline and whales and sea lions in the strait, and, for the really adventurous (me me me!) you can descend over 5,300 feet on a unique zip line called the zip rider which takes 90 seconds at speeds over 60 miles an hour! It's an easy zip in that you are seated and you don't have to remember to brake at the end, like you do with most zip line set-ups. And the views are phenomenal. 

I want to come back to Icy Strait. Next time, I will walk those trails and enjoy the nature on the land.  And I would like to ride the zip rider.  I very much enjoyed the whale watching tour out on the water, especially being able to see quite a few Orcas, a couple of which were right next to our boat for a short time. But the tour left no time to do anything else. So I felt a little cheated. It would have been nice to have been able to stay until 4. Then again, the tour I took didn't begin until 9:00. I had some time before the tour to walk through the salmon cannery and browse a couple of the shops, but not enough time to walk on the beach or walk a nature trail. Or go on the Zip

As we were starting to leave, I walked back into my cabin, dropped my things on the bed, and as I looked up and out my balcony doors into the water I saw a humpback whale right there! I started to fumble for my camera saying over and over "no no no please don't breach yet!" And just as I caught hold of my camera and leapt out onto my balcony the whale began its breach and there was that beautiful tail!  I caught the picture, but only with my eyes. No time to set up the shot with my camera. Sigh. By the time the whale's spout was in view again a few minutes later, it was too far away. But I won't soon forget that majestic beauty. 

I enjoyed a nice dinner at my semi-regular table by the back window with the same group of people that have that table reserved every night. They were kind enough to invite me earlier in the week, to sit with them permanently. There have been, and will be a few days where I won't be able to make it (it's at 5:15) but when I can I surely will. I enjoy their company. 

The show last night was a guy named David Pengelly. He's a ukulele player and humorist. He put on a very lively show and the time flew by. He certainly proved that you can play any kind of genre of music on a ukulele. We got Dueling Banjos, Country, 50's and 60's Rock, and some 70's pop and soul. His jokes were kind of silly but he played the heck out of that uke!!

As we headed into overnight, the skies turned gray and cloudy and the swells began to pick up. As usual, I went to bed early, around ten, and at midnight I awoke with a start to my cabin walls squeaking and creaking loudly. The ship was rocking from side to side and shuddering from time to time. The captain had warned us to expect some rough seas overnight and into the next day. He was right on the money. We were out on the open ocean but the main contributing factor to our rocking and rolling is that we were feeling the effects of a low pressure front out of the Bering Sea. 

The creaking started to drive me crazy. I couldn't fall back to sleep right away. I finally put a pillow over my head and that helped to muffle the sound. I fell back to sleep but every time I moved or rolled over, the pillow fell off my head and the noise woke me up. It was definitely not a restful night. 

This morning was no better. I finally got up about 6:00. The weather was too rough to go out on deck and walk, and I was too tired and grumpy to go up to the gym to walk on the treadmill. So I read my book until
7:00 and then did the next best thing - I had breakfast!!  The ship was quiet. I'm assuming many people were a little green around the gills, as my Daddy was fond of saying. My Dad was a career Navy man, so he had lots of those kinds of sayings. Growing up, the floor was never called the floor. It was the deck. Just one example that makes me smile when I think about it, and him. He died last year and I still miss him a lot. 

I spent the rest of the day resting, mostly. I did take a nap after breakfast which totally helped to improve my mood. I attended a great presentation in the afternoon by our port specialist about cool facts of Alaska. 

We arrive in Anchorage at 8:00 AM. All aboard is 10:30 PM. A good long day!! I've got a car reserved from Avis and still haven't decided what I want to do or where I want to go. I'm just going to be fluid about it and go where my mood strikes. I've been to Anchorage once before but it's been 11 years. 

Pilot boat dropped off the pilot at about 10:00 PM.  Notice how light it still is. We're in the Cook Inlet. 

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