Just a Typical Day on The Safari Explorer

27 05 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nice calm anchorage in the Bay of Pillars last night meant a deep restful sleep for us.  Right up until they started reeling in the anchor (which is directly off our cabin) around 4 this morning. Oh well.  We rise early and I sneak in a private YAYOG workout pre-Yoga.  It is a bit chilly up on deck this morning and our yoga stretches are not so easy since the boat is now moving. Shannon is the perfect instructor for this boat – easy going and fun.

Linda, Janet and Rich rolling around during Yoga

Linda, Janet and Rich rolling around during Yoga

We can smell the bacon and that is when we know our class is almost over.  We have already gotten word from Shannon that we will be having the chef’s special Cheesecake Pancakes for breakfast. She tells us that he pours pancake batter on the griddle and then swirls in cheesecake batter while it cooks. Sounds sinful.

Janet, Eric, Rich and I continue our breakfast tradition and order an over easy egg on the side.  Awesome. (Our tablemates are each having one poached egg and a piece of toast – very boring.  Not the tablemates, just their breakfast!)

The Explorer is motoring to Halleck Harbor, another beautiful secluded cove where will will have the option to shore walk, kayak or skiff tour.  On the way we pass one of the huge Celebrity cruise ships.  We can almost see the jealosy on the passenger’s faces.  “Harold, why did you book me on this Celebrity Cruise?  I wanted to take a small ship cruise like that one over there!”  The mega ship is far too large to get into our little harbor.

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The four of us have opted for the shore hike/explore.  We don our gear including muck boots and hiking poles and shove off in the dinghy. When we arrive at the “beach” we all start poking around.  There are lots of secrets to be unearthed here and everyone enjoys finding “treasures.”

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A sea otter skelton

A sea otter skelton

Good pickin' on this beach

Good pickin’ on this beach

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Eric wins the prize for fossil finding.  He discovers at least a dozen of them.  We are not allowed to take anything from here, so he reluctantly replaces them all.

One of Eric's fossils

One of Eric’s fossils

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Almost 2 hours are spent beachcombing.  It is a very relaxing and lazy morning.  No strenuous hike today. On our way back to the Explorer Eric comes across a plank of wood floating in the water.  He stands on it and claims he is Stand Up Paddle boarding…

That ain’t Stand Up Paddle boarding!

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The dinghy comes to collect us and zips us back to our boat.  When we get on board Rich and Ginny try (in vain) to identify the large nudibranch that we found on our hike.

Weirdo nudibranch

Weirdo nudibranch

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Of course, it is now time for lunch.  Today’s selection is a Roast Beef Gyro followed by a chocolate tart for dessert.  I am not sure that we walked enough today to deserve this.

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Eric cannot tear himself away from his book

Eric cannot tear himself away from his book

After lunch the plan is to motor on and whale watch.  Rich and I decide it would be a great time for a massage (my second, his first).  When we check the sign up board, it is empty – YES!

We are IN, baby

We are IN, baby

Rich preps for his massage by pouring Baileys and coffee while he works on a puzzle.

Puzzle helper

Puzzle helper

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I go up for my massage first.  It is super relaxing and works out all the kinks I developed while paddle boarding yesterday.  Rich loves his as well and comes out looking very relaxed. Some of our new friends declare that he looks “boy-ish!”

During this time we learn that one of the crew (Mitch) has a family emergency and we will be making a stop in the village of Kake so that he can take a water taxi plane to Juneau for a flight back to Las Vegas.  It just so happens that Kake is known to have Alaska’s largest totem pole and some of our passengers choose to disembark and have a look.  Rich and I are content to view the pole out the window.

Totem pole on left in background (ho-hum)

Totem pole on left in background (ho-hum)

We finally leave Kake and sail away while watching for whales.  Almost immediately the captain calls to us that he has sighted humpbacks off the bow.  Janet and I look out the window and there they are!  I make a run for my room to collect my jacket, binocs and camera and rush out to the bow for a closer look.  Just as I arrive the mama and calf both show their flukes (tails)!  It is an amazing site, but I am not fast enough with my camera to catch them.  Hopefully, we will see more along our travels.

The bridge on our vessel is almost always open for visits and I have not yet been up there so I decide to take a peek.  It is a wonderful area – huge with a row of windows for viewing all your surroundings.  The captain is flanked with all sorts of equipment and maps.  This place is perfect for viewing wildlife.

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Two of the passengers on the bridge (Jim and Pam) have been scouring the shoreline for bear with their binocs all afternoon. The finally spy one on a beach and we all stop to take a look.  Immediately after, they spot another mama bear with 3 cubs on an adjacent beach.  They are too far away for great photos, but look fantastic through our binocs.  Great find.

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As we head directly into Happy Hour the chef sets out a plate of cold shrimp with some killer cocktail sauce.  Eric thinks it would be great for mixing a Bloody Mary and enlists Rebecca to help him with the concoction.

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The mood in the lounge is relaxed and happy as we continue to sail on through some beautiful scenery.

Relaxed and happy

Relaxed and happy

When it is time for dinner, we are joined once again by Gordon and Margot with whom we have made fast friends.  Our meal tonight is a choice of Ono with a vanilla aoili or corned beef.  The Ono is delicious and the conversation is lively (especially after Gordon smashes his drink glass and it shatters all over the table…!)

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After dinner Eric makes a beeline for the hot tub.  Janet and Rich are not far behind.  I opt to skip it tonight since I have basically talked our guides into letting us do a looong hike tomorrow. We will see how that goes.

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