Sitting here at the dance studio where my three year old grandson is taking his first dance lesson. Not only is there the chaos of a dozen three year olds trying to follow the teacher, there are another three studios with students ranging up to late teens, all with entourages of parents and siblings.

It is the antithesis of the grace and control of dance.

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For the second time in as many years, I’m working on moving our collected picture files to another hard drive. It’s only a bit over 160 gigabytes, and growing. The cloud drive concept just didn’t work out, it’s too slow when trying to use Adobe Lightroom.

A lot of memories there. 

Today was Soren’s birthday party. Two years old! What a milestone, even though he doesn’t realize it. It was a good time for everyone, Kids playing, adults playing, and everyone getting together to share in the happiness of a young child.

It was a good day.

Well, it’s been a while and there are many more stories that need telling. I hope to be relating them soon.

Breakfast today was pretty spectacular – a humpback whale off the starboard side; breaching and blowing is the kind of show you don’t see every morning. What a fantastic introduction to Glacier Bay. Charleen was glowing; she finally got to see a whale the way she dreamed of seeing one, big, powerful and playful. She didn’t get the picture, though, the layout of the ship thwarted that.

On the passage up Glacier Bay, we saw wildlife in the form of mountain goats, bears, both black and brown, and some adventurous hikers and kayakers. There were also bald eagles who thought that icebergs were a good perch, and were indifferent to huge white ships lumbering up the bay.

Another hour of cruising passed before we finally reached the top of the bay where the Grand Pacific and Margerie glaciers dump their loads of ice into the sea. The larger, the Grand Pacific, is almost a mile wide and covered with rock and dirt.

Some greens hold on

The Margerie is the one everyone comes to see; she is icy blue, active and moving and calving large chunks of ice into the bay. We saw a few of those, and almost as impressive as the sight, was the sound – a sharp crack, then a rumbling and a booming that starts after you see the ice falling and continues after the last splash of ice into the sea.

Much closer

All of this beauty and nature was playing out under crystal clear blue skies and mild, summer-like temperatures. By afternoon we were down to shirt-sleeves to watch our cruise out. This part of the day was even more exciting than the morning’s journey. There were whales galore; most were just surfacing, but there were a lot of groups and as we turned out of the bay, there was one fellow who put on a breaching demonstration, and even waved goodbye.

The only finale a day like this would be to throw fire in the sky, and Alaska delivered. A beautiful sunset awaited us after our dinner.

Smooth sunset

Thursday was our stop in Skagway, home of the gold rush of 1898. I’d bet the miners would have given up some of their gold for a day as beautiful as ours.

Heading into town from the docks

We had scheduled a tour out to summer camp. A mushers camp, but summer camp all the same. Charleen wanted to see the dogs, and the promise of puppies was almost more than she could bear. Then Darcy, our guide, said that she’d be able to hold them, and Charleen was ready to drive the bus herself.

Good thing she didn’t drive. Camp, as all good camps, was pretty far out of town, up a dirt road that bumped and bucked until it opened out on a valley.

Big sky, big mountains

Now, that’s where camp should be.

After a short introduction to the dogs we were loaded into the modified golf cart that serves as the summer replacement for a sled. As soon as we started to load, the noise level among the dogs increased to hysteric proportions. They were ready to pull!

With a shouted “Git on” from the musher, the sound level dropped off, and the sled began to pick up speed. As a team, the dogs can pull a substantial load at a 30 miles per day pace; we didn’t go anywhere close to 30 miles.

Once we were back at base camp, it was time for puppies. Soft, cuddley, lickey, puppies.

Puppy time

Far too soon for Charleen, it was time for the trek back to town. Back to civilization among the boardwalked streets of Skagway. Back to the jewelry shops and clothing shops. Back to the Skagway Brewing Company for a quick pint of spruce tip beer, back to the local Starb*cks for a really good cup of coffee.

The wilderness is nice, but access to a good cup of coffee is hard to beat.

Thar she went!

Wednesday saw us in Juneau, the state Capital, known for absurd amounts of rain; it was sunny and warm all day. Our adventures started later than on Tuesday, with a bus tour that showed us some of the sights of the city and then took us out to the Mendenhall Glacier to view the “big ice”.

Like a reflecting pond

As we’ve seen here in Alaska, you are never quite prepared for the enormity of the sights. The first view of the glacier leaves you thinking, “Wow, that’s big.”, and then when you get closer and yet realize that you are still quite far away from it, you think, “That’s really big.”

The time for our tour was limited, though, so we could not explore as much as we wanted. The next stop was a salmon hatchery where we learned about the life cycle, and habits of the big red monsters. After some salmon jerky and a little souvenir hunting, we were whisked back to the ship in time to grab some lunch before embarking on the trip that Charleen had been looking forward to for a long, long time – the whale watch.

The whale watch required a bus ride out past the fish hatchery and out past the glacier as well. The day was still beautiful as we boarded ship and prepared to set out on the high seas for whales. Seals were found first, then a pod of orcas, and another, and then some more seals and then a few more orcas, and finally, what Charleen had been anticipating, a humpback whale.

Two blows and off he went on a deep dive; our humpback was never to be seen again.

Well, we’d seen a whale, so the guarantee could not be invoked, but Charleen was very disappointed. Two puffs of steam and a black back sliding under the water were a far cry from what Charleen had hoped to see.