Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Alaska - for REAL this time

This was a work trip. I had no twitchy yearnings to see Alaska - for whatever reasons. I'm awfully ensconced in All Things Europe right now, and cannot be bothered with vast wilderness, staggering glaciers, blah blah blah. But duty called, and I shuffled onto this little boat:

with 55 other people - all older than me. Pfft. So much for the "maybe there will be some hot guy, traveling with his grandparents...", a hopeful co-worker's suggestion that I was not entirely opposed to. No such luck. Although the captain was pretty hot, but from certain angles he reminded me of my cousin Lars. Yeesh. So, good! I could totally relax and look grubby and wear the same sweater for 4 out of the 9 days, and really just focus on Alaska. Uff, Alaska.

When I'm talking to clients about travel to Antarctica, I am perpetually explaining that "everything is very weather-dependent"; and oddly enough, my opinion of Alaska was also very weather-dependent. The first day was 55, drizzly, foggy, etc, and there I was, rolling my eyes and counting the minutes to when I could sneak to my cabin and watch episodes of "The Office" on my Hot Pocket. And to be fair - you know, to me - we sailed through Tracy Arm, in the cold drizzle, and saw absolutely no wildlife. But on Day 2, the sun came out around noon, and we were sailing by glaciers:

And I was smiling ear-to-ear, face to the sun, thinking "What a gorgeous place!" I am so Sybil.

It became extremely easy to appreciate Alaska, when we saw every variety of wildlife possible: Orca & Humpback whales, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Moose, Sea Otter, AND after we disembarked the ship, I went for a 2 hour hike - hoping to work off some of the desserts from the trip - and saw a porcupine up in a tree. That is some good wildlife viewing. My camera made everything appear further away than it actually was, which is not really the desired effect, but if you squint a little you can see a pod of Orca here:

There were also some pretty views involving flowers, mountains and mist:

So, I think that people who do not normally have to suffer through 7 months of depressing, damp, cold, rainy weather would probably really enjoy Alaska. It is a pretty impressive place. And they also had shoes:

If it had been sunny on the day I found the shoe shop, I might be moving to Alaska right now. As it is, I'm all set to enjoy the 80 degrees and sunny Seattle that welcomed me back home yesterday. Smiling ear-to-ear, face to the sun. What a gorgeous place =)