August 9, 2018
Hubbard Glacier, Alaska: Today was the kind of day when a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and I think I took nearly a thousand pictures as we traveled close enough to the Hubbard Glacier to hear the giant cracks that sounded like a thunderstorm rolling in and see chunks of ice dropping off in a process called ‘calving.’ It was a sight I never thought I’d see in my life, and it was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful! Because we saw it all from the ship, which was ‘at sea’ all day today, it also meant seeing it at the same time as many of the other cruisers.
It’s no secret that I am easily frustrated with rudeness and a lack of courtesy from adults. I usually try to keep it tamped down when I’m in places like WalMart and in any kind of queue at all, but what I saw on the ship this morning was not the best of humanity. As soon as the captain announced that we could see the glacier on the port side, a thousand people rushed to the port side of the ship, threw open the windows, and literally positioned their bodies in the largest possible pose to enure that they did not have to share any viewing space with – gasp – a stranger!
Of course it was raining outside, and it was also breakfast time, so many cruisers stood at the windows either eating their breakfast, drinking mimosas, or smoking a cigarette as they casually watched this natural wonder occur but didn’t want to share.
I took my camera up on the top deck and tried to brave the rain, hoping it wouldn’t ruin the lens. I couldn’t help but think of MaryAnn Ketcham, who picked me up a rain sleeve for just this purpose but which we didn’t have a chance to connect in order for me to bring it with me before I departed. I stayed and got photos as long as I could, but eventually even those spots became a competition for people to try to impose themselves on. The lack of courtesy made me so disappointed that I went back down the stairs and found Dan, telling him I was going to go back to our balcony and hope the captain was kind enough to turn the ship around, so all of us could have a chance.
Thankfully, that is exactly what happened, and the view from our balcony was spectacular, awesome, and nothing at all like I expected. Experiencing the ‘calving’ process was also pretty amazing stuff; you could see it before you could hear the crack of the chunk breaking away. Once the chunk of ice broke away, it crashed into the water like a beautiful belly flop, with giant sprays of water rising up on every side. It was chilly outside, but it was simply spectacular, and Dan and I felt so lucky to be watching it happen. It was natural and beautiful, and you couldn’t help feeling very small and insignificant as you watched it happen.
As we moved away from the Hubbard Glacier, Dan and I took a few laps around the top deck track, and then it was time for me to head to my second-ever massage. “Oops, I did it again!” They had scheduled an appointment for Dan, but he had decided he didn’t want to go, but he encouraged me to do it. He didn’t exactly have to twist my arm a whole lot. Andy was the massage therapist, and she did a terrific job, using hot oils and hot stones. I felt so good that I may have fallen asleep for a moment, but it was so relaxing that Dan and I may have to indulge at home once in a while. I was so relaxed when I finished that I sat on the deck by the pool with a glass of wine, the whole family, and I fell asleep resting on Dan’s chest.
I’d tell you about my exciting afternoon, but unless you find napping and staring out into the ocean exciting, you probably don’t need help falling asleep. So I’ll move on to dinner with the kids; our last dining room experience with Wilmex, Jeck, and Raj, who have become a lot like extended family during the last week. We celebrated Talia’s seventh birthday, which will happen in a few days, and it was just a lovely evening. Dan and I finished it off by just hanging out together on the top deck waiting for sunset, but we didn’t make it because – well, Alaska is the land of the midnight sun, and with packing left to do, I didn’t want to make poor Ruel to wait for our luggage to be ready this evening.
Now I’m fighting to keep my eyes open, and I’m ready to start the journey home tomorrow, but I’m planning on one more day of blogging before I close out the journey. I want to be a little more awake to share what it feels like to come to the end of a dream, and I want to be awake enough to share my gratitude both for the trip and for the friends and folks who have shared it with me every day as vicarious traveling companions.