Want to get away…?
Taken at the summit of Mauna Kea during the Kamaaina Observatory Experience. This adventure was presented by Maunakea Observatories and ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. It is a free monthly community event that seeks to inspire a passion for astronomy and an appreciation for the cultural and environmental future of Mauna Kea among Hawai‘i residents. Awesome!
I’ve read the Hawaiian legend which tells that a brother of Pele brought the banana (mai’a) to Hawaii from Tahiti. It is believed to be bad luck to dream of bananas, to meet someone who carries them, or to bring them on a fishing trip. Some similes speak of a person’s skin being like a ripe banana or of a person being as beautiful as a young banana leaf.
Bananas teach us patience as they grow and ripen slowly which, when dealing with an impatient person, one can only say “Brah, bananas do not fruit in a single day.”
After being away from home for over a month in Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the Canadian Gulf Islands, it was nice to get back to the island, my own pillow and the swaying palm trees.
Skagway Alaska is best known as the gateway to the Klondike Goldrush. The town has rich historical significance. The town is small with a population of roughly 900 people. The population doubles during tourist season when more than 900,000 visitors arrive, like we did, by cruise ships. As you walk into town, you will pass by Pullen Creek, where there is a wonderful stream walk and an interpretive trial which provides easy access to four stream overlooks. When we walked into town, we were fortunate to see silver salmon beginning to make their way up the creek to spawn.
Before moving on, back to Skagway I think, I’d like to share a few more images taken during the time we spent in Endicott Arm. Over all, what I was most impressed with was the sheer wild remote rawness and vastness of the landscape. Certainly it was no place for old men unless, of course, you were standing on the top deck, above the swimming pool bar of a cruise ship with your watch cap, gloves, fleece jacket, camera and a double Bloody Marry.
Here we are, finally, at the end of Endicott Arm with the Dawes Glacier in front of us. While I can’t say I was disappointed, because I wasn’t, I will say that the light was terrible for a subject with so much potential. The sun, you see, was still low in the sky, coming up directly behind the glacier and therefore the entire vista was backlit, making any kind good exposure difficult. Had the sun been behind us, the scene would have been stunning. But hey, it could have been raining right?
So I snapped off a few “glacier shots” and then turned my attention to the surrounding cliffs, stunning rocks, sub-alpine vegetation and waterfalls. Stay tuned!
With the fog lifting and early morning light beginning to illuminating the surrounding sheer steep mountain cliffs lining the fjord we began to see bread crumbs of ice floating by leading us to Dawes Glacier. Reflecting back, I’m not sure which I was more fascinated with, the layers of mystical fog we had just passed through, the rugged step valley walls and snowcapped peaks or the wonderful chucks of ice floating along the sides of our ship’s hull. With the light the way it was, I decided to first focus on the ice and found myself running from one side of the ship to the other to “get the shot.”
The subsequent reading I’ve done explains that these small chucks of ice are called Bergy Bits and Growlers. These very small chucks of floating ice rise only about 3 feet out of the water. When trapped air escapes, as the iceberg melts, it sometimes makes a sound like the growl of an animal, hence their name.
Also, glacial ice is a different color from regular ice. It is blue because the dense ice absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue – so blue is what we see. Sometimes the glacial ice appears almost turquoise because the crystalline structure strongly scatters blue light.
“Shut in by subline Yosemite cliffs, nobly sculptured, and adorned with waterfall and fringes of tree, bushes, and patches of flowers, but amid so crowded a display of novel beauty it was not easy to concentrate the attention long enough on any portion of it without giving more days and years than our lives can afford.” – John Muir’s description of the Tracy and Endicott Arm Fjords during his visit in 1879
As The Explorer of the Seas passed along the opening of Endicott Arm Fjord, I was nudged awake at 4:00 am by the subtle vibration of the ship’s engine. Stepping out onto our stateroom’s balcony I found a veiled cloak of whimsical fog playing with the shoreline and magically hovering above the water. And it was cold, witch tit cold. But more than that, it was surreal.
It took a half hour for the fog to lift and for our ship to make the final approach into end of the Fjord. I felt like Mother Nature was slowly pulling back the curtain to reveal the scene we had all been waiting for. And I was fascinated by the shroud of fog playing peekaboo with the shoreline, cliffs, and glacial green water we were traveling along. Between stepping out onto the balcony and the ship making her final turn into the end of the arm I clicked off 25 frames. The three images below were taken at 4:37 am, 4:46 am, and 4:56 am respectively.
Yikes, I note with mild surprise that it has been eleven weeks since my last posting. Anyone miss me?
I can attribute the last five weeks of inactivity to our summer sojourn to Oregon (OSU College Reunion, visit the parental units and catch the Total Eclipse), Washington (visit good friend from grade school), Alaska (cruise ship adventure with partners in crime) and the Canadian Gulf Islands (sailing and swinging on the hook with longtime friends). Throughout all this I took 359 images, most of which were “snap shots” not really suited for publication. However, there are a few that are worth mentioning – especially the cruise ship tour of Endicott Arm Fjord of the Inside Passage and Dawes Glacier.
I plan to follow up with several more images of the trip through Endicott Arm ending with Dawes Glacier. Also, just for fun, I’ll toss in a few shots taken in Skagway and maybe a few from the Gulf Islands.
This photo was taken from our state room on the 12th floor of the good ship Explorer of the Seas while moored in Juneau the evening before we entered Endicott Arm. I would have loved to have been able to zoom in on the eagle, but I like how he seems to be surveying his stunning domain in the background.
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