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North to Alaska - Artistic Shots - Day 45 (June 30)

Wednesday - Up early for the Tracy Arm Fjord Cruise, we were welcomed aboard the "Adventure Bound" with complementary coffee (or tea or cocoa), bagels and maple bars to enjoy while we cleared Juneau Harbor. Then came awesome sights, one after another. We saw 6 orcas (killer whales) in a pod led by the alpha female (as explained by Captain Steve while he maneuvered closer), two fluke-waving humpback whales, numerous bald eagles, uncountable pigeon guillemots and, (on a rocky shoreline) a mother brown bear with her roly-poly sleepy cub.

We had been promised tidewater glaciers (those which come down to the sea) and we could see them in the distance as we pushed through the ice-field. But first came the awesome icebergs; grand chunks of ice in light to dark-blue hues that had fallen into the water (calved) from the glacier's edge and were floating majestically, as if in a parade, toward us. The visible portions of some appeared to be as large as our boat, though 90% of the berg is under water. A few of the smaller ones had been appropriated by seal families, curiously gazing at us as we cruised by, with an occasional soulful-eyed baby slipping underwater if we got too close.

Several loud cracking sounds signaled the births of more icebergs as we approached South Spencer Glacier, and a passing bus-sized piece of ice sported a mature bald eagle posing regally at its crest for us. Later, as we approached a second huge glacier, North Spencer, an enormous ice section broke free and tilted down, smashing into the water, creating its own mini-tsunami. The 4-foot swells rocked our boat making us landlubbers nervous, though our deck hands, Dana and Ryan, told us to just hold on to a table or bench so we wouldn't bump into anything.

Further into the fjord we came to "The Wall," glacier-cut rock straight up 1000 feet, adorned with beautiful patches of wild flowers and numerous waterfalls. Capt. Steve maneuvered the boat up against the wall and invited us to get wet in the waterfall spray, saying that the water was guaranteed to remove wrinkles and make one look younger, stronger and more attractive in all ways. One erstwhile studly, white-moustachioed senior citizen stuck his head under, soaking himself completely. Nobody else came forward (It WAS ice water, after all.) until Margaret walked up and thrust her arm into the cascade, catching a handful to drink. That convinced a few other women to stick their hands into it. Sherrila then got a well-deserved standing ovation (and a smile from Garrett) when she removed her ponytail holder and let the waterfall cascade over her beautiful auburn tresses. Then we all retired to the welcome heat of the cabin for the 4-hour trip back to Juneau. What a day!