Friday, March 30, 2007

The River of Ice

I didn't know glaciers were made of ice. I guess that sounds kind of uninformed, especially for a librarian, but I just didn't realize. I knew there was ice IN there, but I thought they just looked like a mountain, like rocks and mountain. I knew they changed the landscape, but I thought they did it slowly, underground and imperceptibly. Even though the definition of a glacier is a river of ice, I just had no idea what a glacier was really like. Until we saw one.

The cruise to Alaska was Tom's idea. My idea of heaven is a tropical beach. This is Tom's idea of hell. So, we compromised. And went to Alaska. Actually, I'm just kidding, because he had gone with me to islands in the Caribbean on cruises several times and I finally agreed to go to Alaska with him. I resigned myself to a cold, boring trip.

It was, quite simply, the most spectacular, most fascinating, most enlightening, most beautiful, most incredible trip I have ever been on. We would love to go back.

One of the most incredible of all the incredible days was the day we actually saw a glacier.

We sailed up the fjord which led to Glacier Bay National Park and the world began to seem surreal. The weather began to change. The water began to change. Even the sky seemed to change. As the temperature dropped, we dug out coats and blankets and wrapped warmly in them. We stood at the railing and watched the water begin to change to an unearthly, eerie, alien green.

It was getting colder. We just couldn't believe the glacier was actually having an effect on the weather.

And then we began to see chunks of ice in the water.

And lots more ice. This was July.

And then the water was full of ice. And it was very, very cold. We had only sailed a couple of miles, but the weather had changed drastically.

This is what was causing the weather change. This is what caused the water to turn an intense, unearthly green. This shelf of ice which towered above the cruise ship is a glacier. It's not a mountain with some ice in it. It's an ice mountain. It is shoving it's way violently through the rock to create a new environment. It is pushing so hard that, when it reaches the water of the fjord, huge chunks calve off into the water. We saw this. And were spellbound.

We studied it for a long time. We looked at it through the binoculars. We marveled at the blue and green streaks, caused by trapped oxygen and algae. We listened to the crashes as the ice broke off and fell into the water. We watched it all afternoon and into the night, as we sailed away. It never lost it's allure. We were mesmerized. Hypnotized. We had never seen anything like it.

We will never forget it.


sarah said...

Someday Nick and I will make it has always been our one place we must see.

Ann said...

I totally agree Alaska is beautiful. I think everyone should go there at least once in their life. It is something they will never forget.

Lucy's Mom said...

Our cruise to Alaska was also the highlight of our numerous cruises. It was incredible! Like you, we were mesmerized by the alien green water, the floating ice and then the glacier itself. It was absolutely spellbinding. We are eager for our return trip in the future. We hope to go with J & N and hopefully you guys too. It would be incredible to experience it again together.

Barbara Barr said...

It's fun to see some of your photos of your trip last year! Please bring them to our lunch and teach us some more about Alaska!