"The ordinary discomforts of a sea-voyage are not felt, for nearly all the whole way long is on inland waters that are about as waveless as rivers and lakes. So numerous are the islands that they seem to be sown broadcast: long tapering views between the largest of them open in every direction."
We left Juneau about three hours ago, so following our naturalist's advice, we are looking for humpback whales in this area, which sometimes show up off the starboard side, where our balcony is conveniently located. So we are watching for the tell-tale sign of a puff of "steam" erupting from the water as the whales surface for air. So far, nothing.
In another hour we will participate in the highly cultured feeding frenzy of homo sapiens as they gather in the dining room for our second "formal night" on board. Tonight we shall dine on lobster, I understand.
We've been back on the boat since about 1:30 PM, following a morning of walking throughout Alaska's capital. We docked around 6:00 AM, just as we were waking. It was 52 degrees and raining. That did not stop us from going ashore for the day. It did affect our plans. We determined to stay in town and not take the shuttle out to the Mendenhall Glacier. For several hours we walked about town, dropping into art galleries, museums, and several visitors' centers. At the center located inside the Centennial Hall we inquired about walking trails accessible from the city. We received some excellent advice about a path that had not appeared in any of our literature -- The Flume Trail.
We climbed up the hill leading out of town and walked about three-quarters of a mile to the trailhead for the Mount Roberts trail. Across the road was the beginning of the Flume Trail, and mile and a half of boardwalk built in the rainforest on the side of a mountain overlooking a loud, white, rushing stream. Looking to the left, down the mountain, it was as if we were walking in the canopy of the forest. The upper third of the tall spruces and alders were at our eye level. To our right we were eye-to-eye with the roots and trunks of those growing higher on the mountain. The light rain continued to fall as we walked.
The trail emptied out in the Evergreen Cemetery, where the town founders now reside. We then wandered back through town to the docks and boarded our ship just in time to be seated for the luncheon served in the International Dining Room where we take our evening meals. We were seated with a man and his wife, Canadians from Vancouver. We began the usual chit-chat and learned that he was an artist and a nature photographer who had made thirty-two cruises up and down this coast while working for a cruise line. His wife simply announced, "I'm a shaman." I'd never had lunch with a shaman before. I had a thousand questions, none of which would have been appropriately polite in this cultured setting. She offered that she wrote poetry inspired by her shamanic "journeys." It was all so matter-of-fact.
Melinda looks lovely, dressed for the formal dinner tonight, wielding binoculars, scouting for sea mammals. I need to prepare for the same.
We will arrive in Ketchikan at 9:15 in the morning. We hope to see some salmon making their way from the sea to the rivers and to watch some native Alaskans demonstrating their way of life in a Tlinget village.
News item: Taylor and Amber emailed us to inform us that our grandchild, expected in November, is going to be another boy. Wow! Two of each!