Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lu-Lu Belle and 26 Glacier Cruise compared

Here is a quick review comparing the two boat cruises we went on in Alaska on Prince William Sound: The Lu-Lu Belle out of Valdez and the 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier.

We liked the Lu-Lu Belle best!

Fred! is the captain of the Lu-Lu Belle. He is quite a talker and he talked about history, wildlife, oil, and glaciers for nearly the whole trip. He lives with his wife in Washington and sails the Lu-Lu Belle to Valdez every year. A beautiful boat it is. It's smaller than the 26 Cruise catamaran, and slower, but also much, much more personal. I think there were maybe 30 peeps on our trip with the Lu-Lu Belle, but a hundred or two on the Glacier Cruise. Fred is a bit of a salty character and initially I was put off because he announced for everyone to "wipe the cr*p" off their shoes because he doesn't want his oriental rugs getting dirty. But I changed my mind about him by the end of the trip and I don't blame him a bit for telling folks up front to be sure to wipe their feet. He takes mighty fine care of that boat and you can tell. The wood is glossy and the ship is well loved. I warmed up to him during the trip very much.

So the main reason why we ended up liking the Lu-Lu Belle best is because you can walk anywhere you want on the boat, inside or outside, anytime during the cruise. On the 26 Glacier Cruise you go outside when they let you. They open the door, one door, and let everyone go outside. They tell you, that is, inform you, a few minutes later it's time to come in. I felt I should let out a long, 'Moooooo' as we were herded in and out.

If you like sitting mostly inside the main decks, the 26 is quite fine. For me as a grown-up I had a nice time on the 26 but our son bemoaned the fact that he couldn't go outside. He's eight and likes the wind. (We had him dressed for the cold, so no problem there.) On the 26 Glacier they want children accompanied by a parent all the times so he was not welcomed to visit or move around between the decks without us. That's a bit of a pain. He's well mannered and inquisitive and I prefer to sit. He had to sit and be with us the whole trip. When the catamaran is moving no one can be outside, all people are inside, so I don't see why youngsters who are well behaved cannot move about inside freely. I imagine since it's a large ship they must go to greater length to CYA to avoid liability. Our son once stepped up on a (find word - the thing on the deck that the rope winds around) and the captain announced on the mic "All feet on the deck at all times." As a family with a kid we had way more fun on the Lu-Lu Belle, and not so much on the 26. Kids and families are made to feel very welcome on the Lu-Lu Belle.

I have photos of a lifetime from our Lu-Lu Belle trip. Fred tells you when to click to get the best shot of a whale tail which is very helpful. He let our eight year old son steer the boat for quite awhile. I have pictures of it! (((Memories of a lifetime.))) He seems to like kids. In contrast, we were made to feel that little people are a nuisance on the 26 Glacier Cruise. The captain commented that there were more children on board than she has ever seen. Whether that was true or not, I don't know, but it didn't look like very many kids to me.

The Lu-Lu Belle was a memorable trip. Worth every penny. They had a Sunday sort of worship/chapel cruise that I wished we'd gone on. I didn't know about it. Photos from the cruise are on the June 2005 archive if you want to see what we saw. They are among the best photos I ever took in my whole life. We had such a good time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Todays posts are backwards

I realized when I logged on today that I didn't provide any narrative for the photos below. Duh.

The photos below are all from our boat trip out of Whittier on the 26 Glacier Cruise. It was a nice four and a half hours. We saw many, many glaciers. What, 26 of them?

We were so lucky. It rained cats and dogs the day before and the day after our cruise.


Pooh. I see I have uploaded my pictures exactly backwards. This one is supposed to be last and my cool wildlife pics are supposed to be first - right here at the top.

I have to go make dinner now.

Waterfalls and blue waters. Posted by Hello

A happy pappy

A happy pappy. Posted by Hello

He's a bit of a grump because this catamaran doesn't allow people outside unless they open the door; then you can go out for about five minutes. Looks like the cookie took the edge off. See the purple eyelid. He ran into a pole that was just his height when he was helping connect the hose to the trailer. Ooosh. It was swollen, then turned black, purple, red, green, and yellow.

Tidewater glacier with pretty reflection. Posted by Hello

Another tidewater glacier and a berg! Posted by Hello

Man, I was hoping for something bigger! Posted by Hello

Stairstep glacier Posted by Hello

Approaching Surprise glacier. Posted by Hello

Surprise glacier (aka Stairstep Glacier) Posted by Hello

My three seals photo. Posted by Hello

It's a cute otter. Posted by Hello

Otters and seals! Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Our first bear sighting, close-up

Chugach State Park, Bird campground. Posted by Hello

At 5:45am a scratching sound on the outside of the trailer next to the bed woke my husband up out of a sound sleep. He thought it was a dog on account of he could hear the claws on our siding so he peeked out the blinds and thought he saw a black panther! But then there being no known black panthers in the state parks of Alaska, he realized it was not a black panther but! he was eye to eye with a black bear!

The black bear was standing upright on his back legs, I guess trying to look in the window. I have no idea what he thought he was doing. My husband said "Whoa!" Then he said "Hey man it's a bear outside!" and the bear surely heard him and got down and kind of meandered off! I think it was a teenaged bear because it wasn't full grown and what kind of bear gets up on the trailer anyway? He must have been inexperienced.

Today we're in Seward and my husband says he thinks all he'll have waking him up tomorrow morning is sea otters. lol!

Checkin' out the octopus. Posted by Hello

Alaskan Sea Life Center at Seward. Posted by Hello

Someone's design on Seward Highway. Posted by Hello

Seward's Alaskan Sea Life Center. Heh. Posted by Hello

This was good-bye Valdez. Posted by Hello

Y pipes and rotator cuffs

In Anchorage we had to have Ford replace a cracked Y pipe. There was exhaust getting into the cab of the truck. It's fixed, but now I have a bad rotator cuff. I think I injured it doing snake arms in March then annoyed it further when cleaning the ceiling in April when we were getting ready to move. I, Dr. Liliana, gave myself a diagnosis via WebMD. I'm taking Ibuprofen for it now. It bothers me at night sometimes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Reading while riding

Our eight year old son just popped in the trailer and got his Archie comic book.

As he goes out the door my husband asks him what he's doing. Glibly he says, he's going to ride his bike and read (as in, at the same time). Husband said, "OH NO YOU'RE NOT."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The obits

I told my husband today that I'm writing my own obituary. I told him I'm going to write about the real me. It'll be the end of me and so I'm giving out the real skinny, the low down, the naked, unvarnished truth. My heartbreak, my passion, my failures. The lessons I have learned. I told him, that's what people really want to read about. That's the stuff of a real good obituary. Plus, how many obits do I read with no mention of how the dead person met their demise? I might be able to get some good tips on what to do so I can live a little longer if people would just put out a little more info.

I'm totally going to include what I died of in my obit. I'll have to make something up for now. I think, my guess, is that I'll get a plain old virus or infection, and boom, bam, it'll kill me. That's what I think. I get the weirdest diseases. Anyway. My husband says I'm a legend in my own mind.

Low fuel price. Yay.

We paid $2.26 for diesel at Tesoro in Anchorage yesterday. That is superb. In Alaska, the highest we've paid was $2.65 at a little place called Willow outside a little place called Houston, Alaska.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

My hair

Me Posted by Hello

Now with a hat.

The U shape

It's a U Posted by Hello

U shape, yes. I have no measure-in this month. Boo hoo. Can't find my measuring tape. I know I could buy one but I have so many things on my mind. Heh. I'm guessing optimistically 31.5".

Our son steers the Lu-Lu Belle

Captain let our son steer for a few minutes! Posted by Hello

Fred, the captain of the Lu-Lu Belle was awful nice. On the way back to harbor he let all the little kids on the boat steer for a few minutes each. Our son loved it! The boat is actually a yacht and he and his wife sail it up here from Washington each year and give day cruises. Several people on our trip, the snack bar girls too, were locals all from the same church and we chatted for the longest. They were really personable.

I was terrible disappointed. We didn't go to church today and later I found out they do a church service on the Lu-Lu Belle. I was bummed that we missed it.

We see icebergs

We see icebergs not too far from us. Posted by Hello

I'm hoping we get close enough to see the Columbia glacier calving. Calving is what it's called when pieces fall off of the glacier into the sea and ICEBERGS are born!

We spot the Columbia Glacier

Approaching Columbia glacier. Posted by Hello

There she be. She's a sizable tidewater glacier.

Surrounded by icebergs

Navigating through icebergs. Yipes! Posted by Hello

The sound is chilling and ominous. This must be what it was like for the Titanic survivors. It's very quiet. We hear the water lap up against the icebergs all around us. Almost saw a big one turn over but it just rolls around instead. We hear the crack of ice as it melts. We can see and hear the icebergs bump into the hull of the boat as the captain navigates his way through to get us as close as possible. The engine idles as we creep along at this super slow pace.

The closest we could get was 7.5 miles from the glacier. I was disappointed that we were too far to see any calving. We shall have to try a trip elsewhere to get me some icebergs being born photos. We'll take another trip through a fiord in Seward.

The Silent Sentry

Bald eagle on iceberg Posted by Hello

He's looking right at me. Aren't his feeties freezing by now? He's up there a long time. Long enough for every single person to go to the bow of the boat and get a photograph of themselves with the bald eagle posing in the background.

Steller sea lions

Stellar sea lions. Posted by Hello

George Steller was the first Russian naturalist to come to Alaska. Steller's Blue Jay is named after him too. Mr. Steller sure got around.