Alaska Cruise Vacation: Glacier Bay

So today we're in Glacier Bay National Park to see the Glaciers. Glaciers. This whole trip is cool, but the glaciers? They're

And I'm just going to tell you now, the pictures don't do it justice. They can't. There's no way to accurately capture the sheer size...or the range in colors...or the sounds of these things.

They're like my mountain obsession on steroids.

Which, speaking of mountains...
Had to get my daily shots in. Are they not breathtaking? Seriously...2 million mountain pictures in my camera. Not exaggerating. You people are so lucky I'm restraining myself to just these (and only because it takes an eternity to upload them). I swear I've documented every mountain in Alaska already, and probably from multiple angles.

By the way, we saw a grizzly bear this morning. (Also known as the brown bear. We went to a talk given by some park rangers earlier today, and they mentioned that inland people call them grizzlies and coastal people call them brown bears. I guess since we were on the coast, he was a brown bear). Anyway, no pictures of Mr. Bear, because we were cruising down the middle of the bay, and he was on the shore (obviously), hanging out by the water. So probably about 5 miles away. Through our binocculars, he looked like a hamster walking on a rocky beach. Through the camera (even with maximum zoom), he looked like a flea. Maybe the freckle on a flea. So no photographic evidence. Still, it's our first bear sighting, and another space filled in our card of Alaskan Animal Bingo. (That's moose, eagles, Orcas, Humpback whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and now a brown bear for those of you playing at home).

But back to the glaciers. Glacier Bay National Park includes 16 tidewater glaciers with 12 currently calving icebergs (breaking up and dropping chunks of iceberg) into the bay. My favorite (and the one in the pictures below) is Marjorie. She was also the one calving when we arrived, and the sight (and sound) is just incredible. You can hear the ice cracking and breaking sounds like gunshots, and then pieces of iceberg fall into the water without warning. The water is littered with chunks of ice...some small (called "bergie bits") and some not so small (which kind of makes you nervous when you're standing on a cruise ship, what with 90% of them being underwater and all. Found myself humming Celine Dion songs all of a sudden).

This is the tip of Marjorie from a distance:
She might not look all that impressive until you see the close up. See that sailboat in the picture there? Not a small sailboat. This thing is MASSIVE.

Here's a close up of some of the colors. You can see the different layers in the glacier. White means lots of trapped air bubbles. Blue means really thick dense ice. Greenish-black is from the dirt and rocks and debris picked up as the glacier moved (remember, these things travel...a lot).

Here's a close-up of one of the parts getting ready to fall. You can see some of the major cracks in the face of the glacier, and some parts were already leaning at pretty precarious angles. Marjorie had a lot to say today...there were rumbles (almost like distant thunder) and pops (like gunfire) and splashes from the ice hitting the water constantly. The hard part was just knowing where to look since the thing was so huge. (I tried taking some video, but of course nothing happened the whole time I was was just me panning back and forth with the camera, which got boring really fast). Of course, as soon as I put the camera away, a giant chunk fell off the end. It was just...BANG! ka-pow! sploosh! And then big waves from where the ice fell (well, not that big for us, since we're on a big bag cruise ship, but the sailboat cleared out pretty soon after that).
The really crazy thing to know that something this large is moving. Sometimes slow, like a foot a day, and sometimes fast (more than 50 feet a day), but always advancing and retreating, like a dance. That just totally floors me. This whole place floors me. You can't look at these things and not just be

I love this vacation.