Monday, October 18, 2010

Kenai Fjords National Park - Travel Series Part II

After a long long day of traveling (2 flights, arriving 3 hours before my luggage and a 3 1/2 hour drive to Seward in the dark) my brother and I woke up to drizzling skies.  It wasn't really raining, but it was sad outside.  Apparently, the beginning of September qualifies as fall in Alaska, which I was told lasts for about two to three weeks and then becomes full-on winter.

Our plan for the day was to go out on a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park but when I saw the weather I insisted Brian call the boat tour to inquire about the seas.  Possibly due to watching too many episodes of The Deadliest Catch, I was nervous about going out in the open ocean during a storm.  The tour company told Brian that everything would be fine so we gathered our stuff and drove to the marina.  The boat was packed.  I stuck a motion-sickness patch behind my ear as a precaution.

As we headed out and began the tour the bay water was like glass.  However, it was a different story once we got into less protected waters.  The boat was rocking and rolling, cresting up up up up up and down down down SMACK on each and every swell.  The captain announced on the intercom "Well folks, the seas are a little rough today but it is not anything our boat can't handle.  If you start to feel a little sick you may want to get by a door or head to the back of the boat."  The deckhands began walking around the boat passing out barf bags.  People began to walk (or rather stumble) to the back of the boat and it was about that same time Brian and I realized we had the unfortunate idea to sit at a table next to one of the doors leading to the back of the boat.  I looked at my brother as I pulled out a bottle of xanax (prescribed to me since I'm terribly nervous on airplanes) and pop a pill in my mouth.  Brian said, " turns out they make money when people are on their boat! Want a beer?" I said "YES" of course.

It wasn't long after that, a deckhand led this sickly looking woman, used vomit receptacle in hand, up to our table and asked if she could sit with us.  All this woman could talk about between heaves was how she wanted to see a puffin.  Since she was mostly looking down into the bag or holding her head in her hands my brother and I tried to help her out by alerting her when we saw a puffin "there's one!"..."oh, there's a whole bunch of them." I think she missed every single one....well, maybe she saw one...but that was it. 

After our jaunt out into the open ocean (it felt like an eternity) in 6 foot seas we made it into the Kenai Fjords National Park.  Once we were in protected waters the rain let up a little and we could see beautiful green mountains with rushing waterfalls scattered along the hillsides.  We saw seals, otters and puffins as we made our way to a glacier.  It was larger than life!  I have heard people talk about how Alaska is "God's Country" and at that moment I began to understand.

We walked onto the deck outside to get a better look.  As the boat glided closer through giant chunks of crystal blue ice we could see the glacier calving and finally the captain shut off the engine.  Chunks of ice broke and fell with a delayed crack crash and splash!  It was so cold and rainy outside, but I stood there looking like a little kid in my Dad's coat (I had on my brother's jacket since my mom told me I wouldn't need to bring one.  She had just been to visit a few weeks prior, but apparently the weather had changed since her trip.  It worked out though since we could fit more of Brian's stuff in the car for the drive home!).

After viewing the glacier and moving onto some different scenery I saw what I had been waiting for....ORCAS!  I have been whale watching several times in the Monterrey Bay and have seen Blues, Grays and Humpbacks, but never Orcas.  They are known to be the hunters of the sea and travel in pods.  That day, we encountered a pod of about 6.

By the time we headed back to port my nausea patch, xanax and beers were doing the trick!  Instead of worrying the boat was going to sink my brother and I threw our hands in the air and pretended we were on a roller coaster as the boat rolled up and down the swells.  It was just the first of many adventures!

No comments:

Post a Comment