I was awakened, bleary eyed and out of sorts, by my mother early on a beautiful day. We stumbled into the car looking forward to a scenic ferry ride and a delicious crab cake lunch. We drove the 1 1/2 hours to Whittier, and drove through the longest tunnel in North America, Whittier Tunnel. ( Not surprising, is it? Of course it's in ALASKA.)
That is what we drove through. On train tracks. Why were we driving on train tracks? Because, the cars share the tunnel with the trains. We drove into the sunlight after 2.5 miles of darkness into the little town, if you can even call it a town, of Whittier.
Whittier served as a military port during World War II. It is tiny. There are no houses, just a large apartment building where everyone in the town lives. There are about 3 cafes, and one grocery store/drug store of a shack.
That is Whittier. We walked into a small building (the size of a large bathroom, I gather) and bought our tickets for the ferry ride. We got meal tickets that we would put on our table when lunch was served. In a few minutes we boarded the ferry, and I was very excited. We sailed out of the dock, through the early morning mist, and passed tree-covered mountains and waterfalls. It was very scenic, just what I'd hoped. But, then again, it's Alaska, what isn't scenic? We were on the water for a few hours when we got our lunch, which was very good. But one of the most exciting parts of the ride was the multitude of sea otters I got to see! They all floated around in groups on their backs, just enjoying the sun. Gosh, are they cute!
Yes, that was exciting, but I must say, watching calving glaciers was just a tad more exciting. What is calving?
Well, dear reader, calving is when a big chunk of glacier falls off and slams into the water.
We slowly made our way up to Surprise glacier, the bluest thing I have ever seen! It was a monster: Towering over our ferry, even from a distance. We sailed over chunks of ice that floated in the blue glacier water. The air was cold, but nothing would make me go back inside the ferry because one of the most magnificent gifts of Mother Nature was smiling at me, shining in the middle of the green mountains, right at the water like a big wall.
We were amazed at her beauty, but we wanted more. We wanted to see a calving glacier, and apparently, Surprise glacier calved a lot. We stood out there for about half an hour until we heard what sounded like a gunshot. CRACK! We saw a large, massive piece of glacier break away from Surprise glacier, and dive into the water, making a huge splash that shot through the air, almost the height of the glacier itself! Then another piece! CRACK! SPLASH! A few minutes later, another! It was amazing. I was completely satisfied. I shuffled back into the ferry, into the warmth and said farewell to Surprise glacier as the boat changed course. We sailed smoothly away and were joined by many sea otters. I'd say we saw about 30. One would go gliding by on his or her back, smiling at us through the windows. We arrived in Whittier at about 5 o'clock pm, then we headed back home, through the longest tunnel in North America, and back to Anchorage.
The pictures above were found at: