Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Prince William Sound - Words

Well, yesterday's boat trip to Prince William Sound was gorgeous. First of all we had a scenic drive to Whittier to catch our catamaran. The road takes you past a body of water called the Turnagain Arm. We saw some beluga whales...well, we mostly saw some water where pods of whales were. They eat fish called hooligan fish which are very fatty and full of calories, giving the whales their blubber (I know how they feel - I ate a hooligan burger the day before and I swear I put on about 20lbs of blubber). People catch the fish and squeeze them to get the oil out. They are also called Candle Fish because if you dry the fish, stick a twig in it and then set fire to the twig, you get a candle. Can you imagine that in the Candle Shop - "I'll take a blueberry and vanilla, a mint and cocoa, and a really bogging dead fish one."

Our bus driver was great, and he gave us some very handy hints for avoiding bears. Apparently if you make a noise they don't like it and will avoid you like the plague. You can sing (although if I tried that I think the bear would rip the gun out of the nearest hunter's hands and shoot me). You can buy little bells called bear bells which tourists often get. The joke is that when you're walking in the forest you can tell the bear crap because it's full of badly digested little bells.

To get to Whittier, the only way in is through a two and a half mile tunnel. It's a tunnel used by both cars and trains, and it's so narrow that it's only one car ride. As a result, every hour on the hour cars go one way, and on the half hour they go the other. Whittier is a wieird place. 80% of the 200 residents live in one apartment building, and the school has a playround with swings and slides etc which is indoors. They never have a snow day because there are tunnels underground to the school. They did once have a bear day though when a bear managed to get into the school kitchen.

The boat trip took us to see 26 glaciers (I took about 25 photos of each one. Not sure why - it's not as though each of them has different coloured ice, but there you go). The boat stops at a couple of the glaciers. It's so quiet and then, all of a sudden, the glacier will calve - a piece will fall into the Sound with a noise that sounds like a gunshot. On the way back we had a glass of water chilled with glacier ice. It's a lot denser than normal ice, and this is going to sound stupid, but it's colder too.

We also learned that the whole 10 men to every woman is a fallacy. There are more men than women, but it's about 53% male, 47% female. If you're a woman, and come to Alaska looking for a man, there's a saying that goes "The odds are really good...but the goods are really odd."

It was a gorgeous day. Some of the most stunning scenery I have seen in my life.

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