Saturday, July 5, 2008

Gold Mining and Searching for Wildlife

Hi All!

I hope everyone had a nice Fourth of July and got to see a few fireworks. Hubby and I always get to watch fireworks while standing on our front sidewalk. It is nice and we don't have to fight crowds for a "good" spot.

Time for some more Alaskan pictures. Don't worry - I think I am almost done. Again -if you don't want to see more pictures - just skip today. However, I am going to show some gold mine pictures so you might want to stick around!

I have shown you our stateroom before with its porthole. Well, for most of the trip the porthole was open like this letting that midnight sun shine in. We had to really make sure the curtains were closed when we went to bed or we would wake up at about five in the morning when the sun "rose." What fun!

Now, here is a shot of the porthole closed! On a sea day, in the afternoon, our room steward came in and shut the porthole "by orders of the captain." Interesting! Of course Hubby and I wanted to know what was up. Apparently there was some rough weather coming.

Hubby and I got up from our mid-afternoon nap (aren't vacations great??), bundled up, grabbed our earmuffs and promptly headed to the top deck where the jogging track was (deck ten) to see what was happening with the weather.

The wind was blowing so hard that it was difficult to walk against it and when you walked with your back to it, it blew so hard that you had to sort of trot along or get blown down. Also, the water was really rough. At one point we had to stop walking in order to avoid getting drenched when a wave crashed over the rail. Remember - we were on the 10th deck of the ship - pretty high up! That was some wave!

Needless to say, many people were a bit "under the weather" that night. The dining room was less than half full and even some of the wait staff were conspicuously absent. When we were in our room we could hear the waves crashing against the side of the ship seemingly right outside our safely closed porthole. Luckily, neither Hubby nor I get motion sickness so we rode out the rough weather with no problems.

When we were in Juneau we took a Gold Mine tour.

Here is the resident miner (who was actually a retired miner from Arizona who lives at this mine during the summer to lead tours), Dave, is showing us the mechanism for directing ore onto conveyor belts to be sent to processing. Notice all of the hard hats. We had to wear these nifty hardhats to go into the mine. Only Dave's had a lamp on it. Hubby felt jipped.

Right outside the mine entrance was this little shack with the hardhats just waiting for us.

Here we are mobbing Dave asking all kinds of weird questions. That is me in the green coat. Because I had a massive headache at the beginning of this day, Hubby was in charge of the pictures.

I am happy to say that the cold, dark mine helped my headache pretty much go away. Now, if only I had a cold, dark mine in my back yard for every time I got a headache!

This is all that remained of the old ore processing factory. All of this steel and the concrete for the foundation had to be lugged up the mountain - we were pretty far up there! Notice the glass structure in the foreground - well, plexiglass - that was built for all of us tourists and was nice and heated!

After the official tour, we got to pan for gold in a little station set up near the gift shop. Both Hubby and I found gold (!!!!) which probably amounts to 1/100 of an ounce and is worth something like sixteen cents. I guess we will have to find another way to get rich! Panning for gold was fun!

These next pictures are from our "Sea Otter and Wildlife Tour" that we took in Sitka. We traveled in a nice boat which had an enclosed section on the first deck which was heated and also had a small snack bar. The top deck had some enclosed seating and also an open air area. We spent most of our time in the open air section. Freezing! We did see some interesting creatures though.

Here is a Sea Otter. Hard to take good pictures when the boat is bobbing up and down and the Sea Otters and bobbing up and down. Trust me - that is an otter. The zoom on my camera wasn't nearly as good as the zoom on my binoculars!

This is an eagle's nest. Supposedly, people saw a little head bobbing up and down in this thing. I never saw that at all! The nest is HUGE. Quite impressive. There was an adult hanging around the nest but I didn't get him/her in this shot.

Hubby was enthralled with this volcano. I can't remember its name but, it certainly was nice to look at!
Here is my best shot of a whale. This is the humpback which was flinging its tail around earlier and stopped just as I got ready to take the picture. This whale was further out of the water but, again, I just couldn't get the picture! It became a joke to everyone on the top deck that I couldn't get a whale picture. Nice. A grey whale also surfaced very close to the boat but, I didn't get any picture of that either! It was pretty awesome to see in person though. To think that we were on the water and these huge mammals were under the water where we couldn't see them.

Well, that is the last of the pictures from Alaska. I hope you enjoyed them! I know that I had a lot of fun taking them! I guess I will have to go back to my "normal" blog now. How boring!

Hey - does anyone out there reading this know how to make the text in a blog look like it has been crossed out? If so - please let me know!


Voice Update: Pretty good. Not the best, of course, because I need to build up the effects of my exercises. My throat is still pretty tight when I do the massage and it is even crunchier sounding - I hate that sound! Inhale/exhale matching pitches kept me company while I was reading yesterday. I didn't read out loud - totally forgot! Darn! Well, I will have to work on that today.

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