RSVP's Alaskan Adventure: Days 3 + 4
Story and video by Michael Anthony. Images in order: Getty; Michael Anthony; Getty
Although Day Three of RSVP's Alaskan Adventure cruise was technically a "day at sea," we sailed through the indescribably beautiful Glacier Bay and tendered for a bit.
Here, we saw our first glacier of the trip (and of my entire life!), a family of passing whales (who followed alongside our ship and surfaced no less than a dozen times) and miles of gorgeous, untouched-by-man shoreline.
Aunt Ros and Uncle Bill had a field day, snapping picture after picture. Seeing sights like this in movies, on nature flip calendars and in National Geographic specials can be desensitizing, but actually beholding beauty like this in real life is in its own category entirely.
On this cruise, which I’ve never experienced on any other cruise before, they tugboat in resident experts and naturalists to discuss the culture and lay of the land as we pass it. Today’s speaker was Alaska’s one and only gay park ranger; Aunt Helen twisted my arm into attending the lecture, and I’m so glad that I tagged along.
Not only did he give the standard "that’s a glacier, over there is a mountain goat" speech, but he discussed the trials and tribulations of finding success and happiness in such a (stereotypically) hetero-centric environment. It was pretty moving and definitely inspiring.
Day Four took us to Juneau, Alaska's capital (interesting fact: the city is only accessible via passenger plane and boat; not a single road is paved in or out). We spent the first half of the day shopping at the local port: trinkets, furs, Russian cultural items (surprisingly frequent here) and jewelry native to the area.
But the best part of our capital visit (and of the trip to date!) was the one-hour helicopter flight that the 'family' and I took through the local wilderness. (See the clip above for a taste of the majestic beauty that we encountered.) Bears, flora and fauna abounded, as well as glaciers (one which is near the size of Rhode Island at times of the year).
Our pilot, a rough and tumble yet strikingly beautiful local woman, even maneuvered a touch-down on a remote glacier; for nearly 20 minutes, we got to hike and trek around the area, harsh and uninhabitable yet entrancing. The tour cost us well over $500 for four, but was well, well worth it.
Tomorrow, onto the city of Sitka, with a slew of other RSVP-promised surprises in store.
Writer Michael Anthony, contributing from aboard RSVP's Alaskan cruise