Friday Sept 13, 2013


I wasn’t planning on writing a blog tonight. I was planning on having a night off, going to bed early, and reading a good book. But, after cruising night and day (since Wednesday) through the island-studded waters of coastal Alaska, we docked around lunchtime in the country’s capital, Juneau – small, unphotogenic, nothing to write home about. But it is home to the native Tlingit Indians and their totem-pole artistry. And visitors come here from all over the world to kayak, dog-sled, raft, sightsee, fish and whale-watch. Which is exactly what we Kiwis got up to this afternoon. And it was so FANTASTIC that I simply won’t sleep unless I tell you about it.

We drove by coach to scenic Auke Bay, where a jet-powered catamaran took us out on an Alaskan-style wildlife safari. These deep, glacial, beautiful waterways are home to seals, sea-lions, bald eagles … and hungry humpback whales. And we wasted no time spotting their tell-tale spouting.

Before you knew it, we were right amongst them – lolling lazily on the surface, their nostrils gaping behind their heads and their signature humps showing proudly, then diving oh-so-graciously for food, their huge tail-flukes waving wetly in the air.

I don’t know what these monstrous, majestic mammals (longer than a bus and 5 metres wide across the tail) thought of us, rushing eagerly from one side of the boat to the other, searching, shouting, pointing, and aiming our binoculars and cameras in all directions at once, but we humans were utterly captivated by them.

It was magic. Pure magic. These graceful humpbacks had travelled all the way from their breeding grounds in Hawaii to their feeding grounds here in Alaska. And they kept coming up for air close enough to our boat (I kid you not) that we could spot the barnacles on their giant tails and smell the fishy stink on their spouting breath!

You’re gonna be green with envy when you see our pix. So here they are. And, if I sign off quickly, I can still have that early night …

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TOMORROW: The adventure continues as our Mad Midlife Kiwis ride gold-rush trains and helicopters in Skagway. Whatever you do, don’t change channels!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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