A Hectic First Day on the Safari Explorer

***WARNING*** All of the Alaska UnCruise posts will have lots and lots of pictures.  And these are just the ones that made the cut…

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Last night the boat was very gently rolling making for a great night’s sleep. The mattress is super comfy (need the same kind at home!) We both awoke several times in the early, early morning due to sunrise being so early.  Light is streaming in by 4:00 am.

I manage to roust myself up and out by 6:15 for YAYOG on the upper deck.  What a great spot in which to work out.  There is a sheltered area up top by the hot tub where weights and mats are provided along with a couple of stationary bikes and an eliptical machine.  No machines for me – I use the weights and make my own workout. Just as I am finishing, Janet and Rich join me for 7:00 yoga with Shannon. Janet wonders what she has gotten herslef into but as usual, she is up for trying everything and anything (at least once).  Rich and I did Yoga on the beach in Palm Beach Florida and I think he kind of liked it.


The boat was still rolling a bit which made some of the balance poses difficult.  Shannon is a great instructor and we take it at a nice slow pace for a wonderful stretch. The most difficult portion of the yoga was smelling the bacon wafting up from the galley! Afterwards we are all treated to a special juice from the kitchen.
After yoga we meander our way down to the lounge/dining area where there is a nice spread of fresh fruit and yogurt, juices and orange scones set out for those who wish to nibble before our proper breakfast.  We grab coffee and chat with other guests.  Soon the breakfast signal is given and we sit down to a lovely meal of spinach/goat cheese quiche.  As we dine, the boat has come to very smooth water in the place where we are going to anchor for the day.
After breakfast we all get out on the sunny decks and look for wildlife as slowly make our way into the cove.


IMG_0937 IMG_0936

Bald eagles are spotted with regular frequency.  They are still a treat for most of us onboard and we all exclaim whenever we see one.

Lookin' for eagles
Lookin’ for eagles

Time to get prepared for the morning’s excurision.  We will be taken by dinghy to a beautiful island where we can take a hike to El Capitan Cave in the Tongass National Forest – the largest cave in all of Alaska.  After having been warned that it is 340 stairs just to get up to the cave, some of the passengers opt for a more leisurely hike on one of the island’s trails.  Eric is saving his knees for what we are told is an extremely strenuous (but worth it) hike later in the week.  Nothing is stopping Janet, Rich and I.  We don our loveliest, warmest, dryest gear and prepare to disembark.

It is clear, but COLD!
It is clear, but COLD!


Boarding the dinghy is easy – we are told to step in and scoot our way down to the end. Janet is the only one who follows directions (naturally).  The rest of us step in and walk to our seats!


Janet is a Rule Follower...
Janet is a Rule Follower…



We feel lucky to be in this group today because Captain Mike is going with us.  He has never been on this excursion and wants to check it out.

Cap Mike and Janet
Cap Mike and Janet

Our guide meets us at the start of the stairs.  He is a college student from Michigan who has only arrived here 2 weeks ago.  He and another girl intern are spending their entire summer here in this isolated place!  He turns out to be a very smart, informed young man and explains so many things to us about this place in which we are exploring. We start the long long trek up the steps and stop several times along the way to rest and hear more about this rainforest.

Finally we reach the cave.  Helmets with lanterns are fixed and we are ready to go!

Ready to go!
Ready to go!

The cave is great – just hard enough to make your way through that you feel as if you are making a discovery.  We get to go pretty far into it, but certainly not all the way. It is huge and there are areas of large drop offs and unsafe passageways.

A 40 ft drop - be careful
A 40 ft drop – be careful


Going back down all those steps was a bit easier.  It takes us practically no time at all – probably because we are starving!  We hope that the group that was doing a trail hike has not eaten all the lunch.

Back down all those steps
Back down all those steps



Arrival back to our boat is set with pitchers of Sangria and Coconut Lemonade.  The Coco Lemonade is amazing (with a little shot of coconut rum).

Stories are share with the folks who will be taking this same excursion in the afternoon.  They have been kayaking and stand up paddleboarding and fill us in on what we might do after lunch.

Comparing photos (Mary takes thousands of pics!)
Comparing photos (Mary takes thousands of pics!)

After expending so much energy this morning, we are very happy when lunch is served.  It is a Japanese Noodle Salad served with a Shredded Duck Wrap.  We devour it and the cute individual pecan tarts as well.
A nap is calling my name, but Rich convinces me to kayak with him.  Alright – the water is just too smooth to ignore.  I really want to try Stand Up Paddle, but I really don’t want to fall in this water!  Kayaking sounds drier.  We find and put on our best kayaking outfits. Just as with scuba diving I insist that the most important thing about your gear is COLOR…

I may not be able to kayak, but I insist on looking good
I may not be able to kayak, but I insist on looking good

I want us to try the 2-man kayaks and Rich obliges.  He will be the pace-setter and I will be the “steerer.”  There are two pedals for the person in the back.  You simply push the one in the direction you wish to go.  How hard can it be?
IMG_0999It only takes us a few minutes to figure out the whole thing and soon we are zipping along like pros.  We enjoyed hugging the shoreline to look into the thick woods for wildlife.  We were richly rewarded within a short time.  An eagle was spotted making a beeline over the water.  We both quickly grabbed out binoculars just in time to see him swoop down and snatch a fish out of the water!  He then flew directly at and over us only to land about 30 yards from us on a rock on the island.  We were fascinated watching him as he ate his lunch.  It doesn’t get any more National Geographic than this!

We also spotted many orange starfish very close to shore and then a large river otter crawling out of the water. He stopped and stared at us as much as we stared at him. What a great afternoon on the water.


Did I mention that a massage for each passenger is included in this cruise? I have a massage scheduled at 6 and I am going to need it.  Janet had one while we were kayaking and said it was great.  I can’t wait.  I get myself ready and meet Shannon (yoga instructor/masseuse).  Oh yes.  She does have magic fingers. I am already planning to schedule a second one before the week is over.

When I returned to the lounge from my massage, Happy Hour was in full swing.Many stories were swapped as we all talked about our day. Turns out Eric spent the entire afternoon in the hot tub solving the problems of the world with fellow passenger, Paul.  We also found out as the night wore on the somehow Eric has learned how to speak “Tlingit.” Who knew he was so skilled at languages?
Tonight we sat with Pam and Jim who are from Indiana.  We called it the “Hoosier” table.

White or Red?
White or Red?

The choices for dinner tonight were grilled lamb, cod with chorizo sauce or farro curry (vegetarian).  The four of us went for the lamb while Pam and Jim had the cod.  The lamb was delicious.  Eric also asked for a bit of the curry to try.  We passed it all around the table and it received rave reviews.
IMG_1017The river otters put on a great show during dinner.

Dinner and a show
Dinner and a show
Our new binoculars got quite a workout
Our new binoculars got quite a workout


We were all completely stuffed when the humongous portions of bread pudding arrived.  It was fabulous, but I could only manage a couple of bites.

Killer bread pudding
Killer bread pudding

The evening is absolutely beautiful.  The water is like glass and the sunset is creating awesome reflections.



A nice selections of aperatifs has magically appeared on the bar.  Hmmm, can we take one to the hot tub?  Of course we can.


It really doesn't get any better, right?
It really doesn’t get any better, right?

IMG_1047Janet arrives on deck and shows us what has been left in their room.  Happy Anniversary!!

Eric and Janet have already had enough of the tub and opt to sit in the dry area.  Rich and I are IN, baby.  This is after Rich and Eric both put on a demonstration of how skilled they are on the elliptical machine.



I bet I can go faster than Rich!
I bet I can go faster than Rich!


Yep. It CAN get better.

We are the only 4 up on the A deck (the “Lido Deck” as I call it) and we laugh and carry on being entertained by Eric speaking Tlingit.  Since we are visiting a Tlingit village tomrrow, Janet is a bit worried that Eric may decide to bust out some o his new found skills with the Native people…

Another big day is planned for tomorrow.  I don’t know how much more of this I can take.


3 thoughts on “A Hectic First Day on the Safari Explorer

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