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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Life in Alaska...

"From the greatest tragedy comes growth, 
and the future of life"

Mt. Sallisbury 12,000 and the John Hopkins Glacier

While our Alaska cruise was phenomenal, a highlight was Glacier Bay. This 3.3 million acre National Park and Preserve is amazing. At one tip of the bay, John Hopkins Glacier lives. 

Yes... glaciers live. But only 5% are advancing... the rest are retreating at a rapid rate.

John Hopkins Glacier

21 miles long, 200 feet high and a mile across... John Hopkins Glacier is among the living and advancing about 5-7 feet per day. 

Just one inlet north, the Grand Pacific Glacier is moving the opposite direction. But at one time had advanced 300 feet in one day! So fast that it wiped out the Tlingit village. They called this the little ice age.

Grand Pacific Glacier

By 1750 the Grand Pacific Glacier reached maximum extension. Captain George Vancouver sailed there 45 years later, and the glacier had melted back five miles gouging out a portion of Glacier Bay. 

In 1879 John Muir traveled to Alaska, using Vancouver's maps, but the landscape had changed once again. But with what Muir found, he proved with his voyage that Yosemite had once been covered with a glacier.

Last week we traveled 65 miles up into Glacier Bay. None of this beauty would be possible without the mini ice age, and the destruction of the land as the glaciers grew and retreated. Sadly the Pacific Grand Glacier is still in retreat. Leaving behind growth and beauty... But we can only hope that all our glaciers do not retreat into oblivion.

The cycle of life in the north. Ice covered the rock. In retreat the lichen attached to the stone, and slowly broke down the rock into soil enabling plants to grow. With nutrient filled soil trees took hold. The history of life is evident on the passage through the passage. A must see.

We started in Seattle with 79 degree weather and sunshine, and other than a little fog and one day of drizzle... we had beautiful weather the entire trip. We sat on our balcony and watched the world go by.

Wild life was abundant and the fun times were many. I actually read two books, we hiked each day and explored the forests. We are not very good cruise people as we did not partake in a lot of the ship's events... which were many... but we relaxed and enjoyed. 

The trip to the glaciers was somewhat a metaphor of life. Ice happens. But when it melts there is life and growth beneath. Sometimes you have to go through the tough times to find the beauty on the other side. The sun is always shining. Sometimes you might just have to wait out the storm. 

But despite the great adventure and fun times... there is no place like home! Maybe there in lays the meaning of life.

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Awesome Photos karlene. Wow .........

  2. Remember when I said "sometimes we have to retreat to become greater than before"?

    I love the photos. The ship with the fog... Wow! Nice shots, Karlene!


    1. Thank you Alex! Yes... you were so right!!! How inspiring. And... a great analogy for future use. :)

  3. Hey that looks like a great trip, I hope to do it sometime. I just flew over Glacier Bay and I'm on a layover in Juneau right now. Pretty amazing area!

    1. Oh... we just missed you! Jay Sakas and his wife are up there this will... NCL... wouldn't that be a funny surprise meeting on the street. We'll have to plan better to meet you on a layover! Have fun... send photos!

  4. Those are some amazing photos Karlene! They look exactly like the ones that my mom took when we went about 6 years ago, when I was 10.

    We too had a balcony room and loved just sitting out there, watching the fjords pass by. Seeing those glaciers from the ship is something that I'll never forget, I'm sure it was just as memorable for you.

    Awesome pics, thanks for sharing them! What cruise line were you with? Any stops for excursions?


    1. Hi Swayne, we took the NCL and avoided the excursions and lines with all the people. We planned what we'll do when we go up without the cruise people. It was a great journey and you were lucky to take it with your parents. A wonderful world we have for sure. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Wow - that is just stunning - Alaska is the most beautiful state - we can't wait to go back there! Helps that ANC has some awesome traffic for photography too :)

    1. Yes... I love Alaska! Probably my best memories are up there with all the beauty and the magnitude of it all sweeps you away. Just love it. I love fishing too. So next time, I'm on a river! :) One day I'll have to share my first Halibut fishing excursion.

      Thank you for the comment! Glad you enjoyed the photos.

  6. Great photos, Karlene. Hope you got off in Skagway and rode the train up through White Pass. If not, go again.


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