Farewell, Alaska! Glacier Edition

I feel perpetually behind on blogging right now!  Mostly because our last weeks in Alaska were kind of a blur, due to Mike sailing with me and then the Alaska end-of-season clearance sales.  As a quick update, we’re actually in Vancouver today (my first time here), getting a feel for the city and heavy amounts of Starbucks WiFi before we sail today for Los Angeles and the second “half” of our cruise life: Mexico and Hawaii!

I won’t be blogging about my last week in Alaska, because I literally didn’t do anything except check the stores for clearance sales.  And we had rain all week, to make up for all the sun we’d had the week before.  In fact, Mike got the best weather we had all season in Alaska: ALL SUNNY DAYS.  I don’t know how he managed that.

But what did I do when Mike was on the boat with me?

Well, the week started out phenomenally, with this extraordinary Star Wars costume exhibit at the EMP Museum in Seattle.  Seriously, he picked me up from church in his cab from the airport and we immediately went to the museum.  What a way to say, “Hi honey, I’ve missed you!”, right?  But it was actually the perfect choice.  We’re huge Star Wars nerds (also LOTR nerds), and it was great neutral ground to reconnect after not seeing each other for over three months.

StarWarsExhibitIf the Smithsonian’s Star Wars costume exhibit comes to your city, or even to the city an hour or two away from you, GO SEE IT.  It’s a brilliant exhibit, featuring all the original costumes from both the prequels (gorgeous, even if I was less than thrilled with the movies themselves) and the original films (stunning in their simplicity and the fact that THOSE ARE THE REAL THINGS).  The pictures we took occasionally look a little two-dimensional, but I assure you, that was a life-size and three-dimensional Darth Vader force-choking Mike.  Also awesome was all of the background material, from filmed interviews to costume sketches to quotes from George Lucas about his approach to all six films.  Also, who knew the stormtrooper costumes used almost HALF of the original Episode IV budget??  Such cool info.

We checked out some of the other exhibits at the museum, notably the Indie Gaming exhibit and the Fantasy exhibit, but I was so busy snapchatting photos from the Fantasy exhibit to my sister (who’s teaching a Worldbuilding class to her middle schoolers this fall!) that I neglected to take photos.

Our sea days weren’t very exciting, I must say.  Lots of watching episodes of The Love Boat (so endearing after awhile) and Mike finally seeing my shows.  I also took advantage of having a great voice teacher on board to get tuned up vocally.  It was very unnerving to go without a voice lesson for three months while singing almost every day, so I was super grateful for Mike’s advice and input.  I feel a lot more confident about the work I’m doing now that I’ve gotten his blessing, hehe.

In Ketchikan, the weather was gorgeous, so we went hiking up my favorite trail, the one I had hiked three times before.  Here’s the one shot we took at the top.  I don’t like to pull out my camera when hiking – too involved in breathing in the fresh air and wet dirt smells.  But it was nice to share my favorite Alaskan hiking trail with Mike.

KetchikanHikingFinalIn Juneau, we went on an excursion with a couple of local guys to the Ice Caves of the Mendenhall Glacier.  While I (and many of the cast members with me) were somewhat dismayed to realize that our guides didn’t actually know where they were going (or have a concern about safety, apparently), we did have a great hike out onto the glacier and a pretty cool time in an ice cave.  I ended up going back the next week with a few other cast members and being their guide, and I have to say it felt much safer going “my” way after having done just a little bit of research.  (God, please forgive my moment of smugness.)

Here are a couple shots I got between the two trips, but for a lot of great, professional-quality photos that capture what the ice caves felt like (and are even better than we saw), check out this article: “Go Hike the Mendenhall Ice Cave Before It Melts”.  It also gives you a nice perspective on how fast the glaciers are melting.

IceCaves1 IceCaves2The speed of those melting glaciers was confirmed the next day, when Mike and I took a helicopter ride up to the Meade Glacier near Skagway.  Remember how I blogged early in the season about watching the helicopters take off next to the ship and hoping I’d ride one?  Well, check that off the bucket list!  It was almost anti-climactic, in a way – none of the g-forces or physical effects of an airplane ride.  In fact, it felt like riding in an elevator that occasionally shifted sideways.  I could ride in one of those all day!

Helicopter1 Helicopter2Helicopter3Unfortunately, trying to capture good photos on the helicopter ride was tough.  I was sandwiched in the middle of the back seat, and the passengers between me and the windows (from another ship, I must note) were fairly annoying in their insistence on having their cameraphones running at all times.  Seriously, they never put the phones down, and one of them even took video the ENTIRE flight both ways.  It was really frustrating, especially since it even ruined the view when I was just trying to look out the window with my eyes.  (I also didn’t appreciate occasionally being filmed without my permission.)  PSA: Please, if you’re going on an excursion somewhere, anywhere, put the phone down for at least ten minutes.  Don’t ruin it for everyone.Helicopter4

I rest my case.




Once we got up to the Meade Glacier, though, it was cool.  Literally – the temperature was about twenty degrees colder than down in Skagway, even with the copious sunshine, since there was a brisk wind whipping through the mountains.  Mike and I hadn’t been sure we would get an excursion that day, so we hadn’t bundled up sufficiently.  Brrrrr!

Helicopter8a Helicopter9aWe only had about twenty or twenty-five minutes on the glacier, but boy did I gain some perspective in that time.  Glaciers from a distance look like giant hunks of ice: frozen, static, and solid.  In person, they are alive with melting water.  Water trickling in small streams along the surface, water gushing into an abyss below your feet that you can’t see, water in small pools here, there, and everywhere.  I knew climate change was real (no matter what one’s belief in its cause may be), but seeing it there in person was really breathtaking.  The glacier on which we were standing was losing 100 feet each summer, and it was only 800 or so feet high.  The math is pretty simple; the spot on which we stood will be a point in the air in fewer than ten years.

This is a short river to a huge waterfall at the far end.  An amazing amount of water!
This is a short river to a huge waterfall at the far end. An amazing amount of water!

And by then, the trip was almost over.  In Victoria we just walked around the beach and the town, grabbing candy apples for dessert and trying not to think about saying goodbye the next morning.  It was much harder than we had anticipated, even though we consider ourselves somewhat proficient at long distance.  But he’s planning to be back in November, so it’s wonderful to have that to look forward to now.

As I mentioned, today I’m in Vancouver, and here are a couple shots from my wanderings this morning.  It may be a little while till I blog again, because we’re heading to Los Angeles, and then my mom is sailing with me for five days.  But I’ll see you soon!

Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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