Alaska Day Three

Sunday, May 23, 2010: Alaska Day Three at sea, cruising all day.

I got up early. After my morning ritual exited the cabin for coffee service at the Windjammer Cafe. Radiance is exiting the Queen Charlotte Strait between mainland Canada and Victoria Island. The sky is overcast with lower broken clouds. The surface wind is hard against the port giving the ship a slight rock. Wave action is slight chop with infrequent white caps. Low mountains and some snow fields visible off starboard. The sun presents as a white smudge to the starboard. The wind gives a constant low rumble, swirling the pages as I write in my journal in the Windjammer shelter.

We take a formal breakfast this morning. I had the kippered herring with onions and potatoe. Patty had lightly smoked salmon, tasty without an overwhelming fishy presentation. Bobby had the french toast. We sat at a table of four parties with Maine, California, and New Mexico represented.

After breakfast, Bobby & Patty go to a shopping presentation where the emphasis becomes having a personal shopper to guide you through the high end stores. We are here as tourists. Our high end money was spent on having a balcony cabin. Patty then goes to her manicure appointment. Bobby explores the ship further . I head off to the main auditorium for naturalist presentation by Allen Lloyd of Precision Photography. Today’s segment is on Ketchikan to Tracy Arm.

Side note about the Aurora Theater. It is located in the bow of the boat with offset tiered seating. Each seat is offset by one-third with the pattern repeating every third row. With the offset and elevation tiers, no one should have a head blocked view of the most of the stage.

Allan Lloyd’s presentation today is focused on glaciers. The earth is emerging from a Little Ice Age. As such, most glaciers that had advanced during the time period are now receding. All glaciers are geographically active and transition through three zones – alpine, piedmont, glacier. The color of the ice has meaning as well. Blue ice is pure water, having had the oxygen squeezed out of it. White ice has air within. Floating ice has its own descriptive terms as well, from ice bergs, through bergy bits, to brash ice. We would see all at the Hubbard Glacier, later on in the trip. Allan closes with a poem by Alaska’s poet – Robert Service. The Cremation of Sam McGee:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun,
by the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Then I got up, or tried to. All of a sudden there was a disconnect between where I thought the floor was going to be and where the floor really was. After hanging onto the seat for a moment, my equilibrium reset to sea and the ship.
The sullen sea now has turbulence above the chops of troughs. Rolling swells have their tops blown off and away into vanishing mists. By afternoon, the sun makes occasional appearances. Rainbows can be seen in the vanishing mists.

By late morning, the rental tuxedos that were supposed to be delivered yesterday for sizing were delivered. Needless to say, there were fit concerns. The ship’s tailor was responsive and all ended up well.

This day was spent relaxing about the ship, fitting in with the rhythms of relaxation. No worries, no concerns, just enjoying the day. Bobby and I got in some game time, chess, checkers, pool and miniature golf. Felt like the old course at Saint Andrews, gray skies and scurrying winds.

Dinner was the first formal. Bobby has only worn a tux once – for his senior prom. It has been a least a dozen years since I strutted up in a tux. Together, we twin penguins got ourselves together. Patty’s outfit was elegant. All said and seen, we looked smashing. Pictures posed for, taken for later purchase and we moved into the dining room for this formal event. Most folks were dressed to the event. Tuxedos, formal wear, suits, some comfortable casual and a few extreme casual. All were served a decently decadent dinner.

After dinner, we went to the Aurora for our first show. (I side trip to the bow for second sunset.) The cruise director fills the Aurora atmosphere with audience engaged enthusiasm and the occasional retold humor “That’s my mother’s name!” At least two – Rachel & Stella.

The day ends with our first towel animal – an elephant.

Tomorrow – Alaska.


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