Haines, Alaska

Our first time back on land was when we finally got to Haines. Haines is a cool little town.

Pretty much the whole town of Haines, Alaska
Pretty much the whole town of Haines, Alaska

After we got off of the ship we went around the little shops before heading into the woods for some hiking along Mount Ripinsky Trail. It was nice to get into the woods after being on the water. The green provides a nice contrast to the vivid blues that you see.

Hiking the Mount Ripinsky Trail
Hiking the Mount Ripinsky Trail

There are bald eagles all over Alaska. They are massive and beautiful to see flying around. They are gracious, elegant, and powerful creatures. Trying to get shots like this is why I think I would pick up a nice zoom lens. I thought I had a decent setup with my DSLR but sometimes the nature in Alaska is just too demanding to score a great shot with a basic setup.

It is awesome to look up and see this
It is awesome to look up and see this

We hiked several miles before turning around, a little short from the peak. But we were breaking a good sweat and in need of some hydration and food. This was provided by Big Al’s Salmon Shack back in town.

Fried halibut and salmon
Fried halibut and salmon

The seafood in Alaska is tough to beat. Getting that fresh high quality product on the land really overshadows the cruise ship food back on the boat.

After we changed out of our hiking gear and through on some nicer threads we strolled the town a little more. There’s a nice cemetery hidden amongst the pine trees on the outskirts of a park in Haines. For dinner we went to the Fireweed Restaurant which was a little disappointing with its lack of seafood choices (I can get a pizza back in Jersey). The view was nice and we had a chance to look out on Mount Ripinsky and were pretty impressed at how far we had hiked up the mountain. After dinner we headed back to the ship where I was greeted with “Oh hello again Justin Bieber” by one of the workers which always gave me a laugh considering I looked like this on the trip.

Classic Justin Bieber
Classic Justin Bieber

Departure and Glacier Bay

After spending some time on the boat, walking around, and seeing the beautiful town of Seward we were ready for our 8 PM departure. The first night consisted of the usual getting to know the ship. But since it is Alaska and it only gets dark for a couple hours, you can also head outside to see if there is any cool nature going on. And there always is. There’s almost always sunlight in the summer and there is always something to see. We just happened to pass this random glacier. Huge mountains are everywhere. There’s no announcements made over the loudspeaker to look because the announcements would never stop.

Glaciers are everywhere
Glaciers are everywhere

Having the day at sea in the beginning of the trip was great as it provided some nice rest from all the flying and lack of sleep. It was relaxing to cruise around and not have a care in the world.

The next day cruising Glacier Bay is probably the most beautiful day I’ve witnessed in my life. Otters, seals, breaching whales, salmon jumping out of water, eagles sitting on icebergs, bears, massive mountains and glaciers everywhere.

Glacier Bay is alive with creatures
Glacier Bay is alive with creatures

It’s pretty breathtaking seeing whole pods of whales swimming. Sometimes they’re off in the distance making the faintest puffs of water vapor and other times they are right along the boat, startling you with the noise the make.

Probably saw a dozen whales
Probably saw a dozen whales

All of this happens amongst the most beautiful backdrop.

Glacier Bay is amazing
Glacier Bay is amazing

The beauty of Alaska really can’t be overstated. You immediately see it and it keeps getting better and better as you see more of the state.

The glaciers are massive
The glaciers are massive

The mountains are tremendous. You move from one side of the ship to the other trying to take it all in. Hours and hours of amazing scenery.

Just one of the many gorgeous scenes
Just one of the many gorgeous scenes

There is so much wildlife in Glacier Bay.

Oh hello there
Oh hello there

It never ends.

It's fun to watch these salmon jumping
It’s fun to watch these salmon jumping

Ever.

One of the many humpbacks
One of the many humpbacks

We caught the most beautiful sunset leaving Glacier Bay. It’s one of the many moments that hopefully you are fortunate enough to catch in Alaska.

I had to have this framed and put on a wall
I had to have this framed and put on a wall

The most annoying part about Alaska is that you have to sleep. You are always missing something awesome. There is always sunlight and always something to see. If you’re not missing the breaching whales at 6 in the morning, you are missing part of a glacier cracking off at 3 in the afternoon or a bear along the shore at 11 at night.

The Beginning of our Alaskan Cruise

Decided to go on an Alaskan cruise with my girlfriend. After finally picking up a DSLR we were ready to go.

Itinerary
July 13: Fly NJ to Anchorage
July 14: Take The Alaska Railroad to the cruise ship in Seward. Set sail.
July 15: At Sea
July 16: Glacier Bay
July 17: Haines
July 18: Juneau
July 19: Ketchikan
July 20: Cruise the Inside Passage
July 21: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
July 22: Fly back home

Flew from Newark, NJ to Anchorage, AK. Flying into Anchorage is intense. You get pretty close to Denali National Park and Preserve. You catch a glimpse of Mount McKinley. I was bummed that I wouldn’t have enough time to check out Denali but was happy to get at least a glimpse of it. After you touch down on the runway, you notice the immediate immensity of the nature. The mountains around the airport are massive and foreshadow what is in store for your trip in Alaska.

When we got in to town we stopped at Glacier Brewhouse. Grabbed our first king crab, salmon, halibut and Alaskan brewed beers of the trip.

Our first taste of Alaskan brews
Our first taste of Alaskan brews

We had to be up in a few hours to catch our ride on The Alaska Railroad so it wasn’t too long of a night. I must say it was a little bizarre heading to the hotel room after midnight with the sun still shining.

One way to get to your cruise ship is the 4-hour train ride from Anchorage to Seward. We heard it was a beautiful ride so I was hoping to get some sweet shots with the new camera. It didn’t disappoint.

Four hours of this
Four hours of this

Alaska is amazing everywhere you look. I had a bet going with family vacationing in Yellowstone, Montana and Colorado about who could get the most epic wildlife picture from the trip, so I was pretty pumped to see two moose this early in the trip.

A couple of moose
A couple of moose

The nature is bigger here than most places. It’s in your face and it doesn’t stop.

Everywhere you look
Everywhere you look

After hanging off the side of an open air car taking pictures for four hours I didn’t want the train ride to stop. There was beauty everywhere and I’m glad that we chose that option to get to our cruise ship.

We had a couple hours to hang out in Seward. It’s a small but beautiful town. We grabbed some oysters, smoked salmon and brews at Ray’s Waterfront and strolled around the town.

Smoked salmon is hard to beat
Smoked salmon is hard to beat

We decided to check in to the cruise ship early so we wouldn’t have to rush. Amongst the many seniors, we were easily the youngest people on the trip. But that was to be expected. This was a cruise around Alaska and not the Caribbean. Even without departing the land, there is nature everywhere you look. It never ends in Alaska.

Shot this from the cruise ship
Shot this from the cruise ship