Please Pardon my Absence

October 3, 2010

You’re right. I never mentioned that I was going on vacation. And, no, I did not fall off the edge of the earth as some of you asked, just the edge of the continent.

My husband’s mother and her best friend were visiting from Italy for the past couple of weeks, as they often do in September. Each year, I try to show them a part of America they’ve never seen. Although I have traveled this country extensively, sharing America’s beauty with those who have never experienced it is like seeing it for the first time. One year it was San Francisco and the redwoods. Another year, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon. This year, Alaska!

Snowy Peaks by Helicopter

This wasn’t just our usual road trip (although we did put over 1000 miles on the car). Instead, we boarded a ship in Vancouver, Canada, and added another 2400 miles traveling through the Inside Passage on Alaska’s Marine Highway. Three-hundred-foot towers of ice calving into Johns Hopkins Inlet. Dozens of Dall’s porpoises frolicking alongside the ship. Glacial rivers coursing under their crystal shell and into a crevasse that turned from blue to black as it disappeared into centuries and centuries of ice. Brown bears. Humpback whales. Bald eagles. Otters, seals and sea lions.

Since pictures speak louder than words…

Sunrise Enroute to Juneau

Whale Watching in Auke Bay, Juneau

Humpback Whale Spouts

Mother and Baby Humpbacks

Chilkat Glacier


Crevasse on Chilkat Glacier


Ice Formations on Surface of Chilkat Glacier

Young Bald Eagle Learning to Fish

Bear Tracks!

Momma Bear...

... and Cubs

One of the highlights of the trip was Glacier Bay National Park and watching the Johns Hopkins Glacier calve into the inlet.

Johns Hopkins Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park

We were lucky enough to have some sun, but the air was cold enough that I had to wear almost every article of clothing I brought to keep the chill at bay.

Watching Johns Hopkins Glacier Calve

Although watching a glacier calve is an awesome experience, it is startling to see the difference in pictures a family member took less than 10 years ago, especially when you realize the very act of viewing it is contributing to the glacier’s demise.

Johns Hopkins Glacier has receded 65 miles since 1750.

Here’s a quick video with closeups of dozens of Dall’s porpoises racing and frolicking alongside our ship while traveling Alaska’s Marine Highway. When they first approached from the far side of the channel, it looked as if the water was boiling. As they drew closer to the ship, I could make out their dorsal fins. Then they curved and swam alongside, leaping and diving and playing for almost 2 minutes. Then, as if one of them called “CUT,” the porpoises dropped under the surface of the water almost in unison and swam off. Perhaps to catch their breath as they waited for the next ship…
Sorry for the clumsy shooting… just a tiny point a shoot.

The pristine lands, serene beauty, and magnificent creatures left me both thankful for the opportunity to experience these treasures and hopeful that they will remain intact for generations and generations to come.

P.S. I honestly did intend to post a recipe or two while traveling. And although we spent a great deal of time and energy eating, when not in the dining room or on excursions, I was far more focused on scanning the horizon for wildlife.

Perhaps my post on pesto was meant to be delayed. In a serendipitous stroke, my Alaskan traveling companions reside in a small, seaside town not far from Genova, the birthplace of pesto.

Angela and Marilena on Chilkat Glacier

What was in the works as one simple recipe has become two – the measuring cup method and the al’occhio (eyeball) method, complete with variations and additions.

A presto ~

One Response to “Please Pardon my Absence”

  1. Liz Says:

    What fantastic pictures. Now I want to visit Alaska and see all those animals…well, maybe not the bears that close.

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