Tuesday, September 15, 2009

[Travelogue] Rain? What rain?

After taking a one-day break our ten-year-long winning streak with the weather while traveling seems to be back. With a vengeance. A disastrously rainy day in Juneau has been followed by two days of gorgeous weather in Sitka and the Hubbard Glacier. Sitka, with the city-limits-busting population of 8,000 or so, is the fifth largest "city" in Alaska. I took a mountain biking excursion and it took all of ten minutes to ride from the center of town to its outskirts. From there it was nothing but trees, streams, and mountain lakes. They get so much rain up here that they don't have water meters, just a flat rate for all you con drink, shower, and flush. Quite a contrast from Southern California where we're on second-stage rationing because of a four-year-long drought. Somewhat ominously, though, the summer has been the driest that anyone in Sitka can remember.

Tomorrow we're off to Seward, which marks the end of the first of the five legs of our trip. From there we go to Kodiak Island and Dutch Harbor, and that's the last we'll see of the U.S. for two months. From there we cross the Bering Sea to Petropavlovsk, which is at the southern end of the Kamchatka peninsula. I am given to understand that it's considered a resort by Russian standards. We'll see.

In the meantime, here's a photo of Hubbard glacier. Click for a full-scale version. I'm not going to be able to post many photos because the internet bandwidth from the ship is so low, but this was just to beautiful to wait. The face of the glacier is 500 feet high and seven miles wide (though what you see in the photo is just half of that width -- the other half is hidden behind the point on the right edge of the photo). If you look very, very closely you will just be able to make out a small black dot about a quarter of the way from the left edge of the photo and just under the bottom of the glacier. That's a boat.

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