Fridays with Manny


Visit to Icy Bay

This morning did not have as dramatic a view as it did yesterday. We saw what seemed like endless water with the horizon line somewhere in the infinity. The water was calm, and it was pleasant outside. Our destination was Icy Bay aka Guyot Glacier. It did not take long for the pieces of ice to appear in the water. At the beginning, there only a few small ones, and then they got larger and larger. One even carried a colony of birds. A few were a dark grey color, and as they moved, the surrounded water was filled with dirt. As the crowd of ice grew, it reminded me of the people as they arrive in a new place. First, a few pioneers, and then as it happened when gold was discovered in Alaska and California, more crowds burst in, bringing with them some dark personalities who left a dirt trail where they moved in. But eventually, all melt to become one large mass either of water or people. 

In the afternoon, when we reached the Glacier, we took our first excursion on the Zodiac boats. When the first group left the ship and sailed toward large pieces of ice, it did not look impressive from far away. However, when we got there, I was overwhelmed. These were icebergs melting away with incredible carved shapes and a luminescent green color. The color is caused by the new snow pressure on the lower layers, and those pieces which are dark are covering land. While glaciers are melting, the new snow creates new layers. 

The question is, what will happen first, and how long will it take? Meanwhile, do not wait. Make an effort to experience the natural beauty. Here are a few images from our encounters.

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Fridays with Manny


Voyage on MS Roald Amundsen

Before the start of our voyage on the Norwegian Hurtigruten Expeditions ship, named after the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, started, I had no idea what to anticipate, or how I would feel. To prepare for the trip, I took eight travel books in the Public Library, a photo-book and a very informative book, “The Great Book of Alaska”. 

When we arrived in Anchorage, on the wall in the airport I saw a beautifully executed image made by the local photographer Bob Kaufman, who takes amazing images of Alaska, and in the tourist stores we saw photos by other local photographers. But taking these images was their experience, their feelings, not mine. One of the reasons we chose the Hurtigruten Expeditions cruise line was because their ship was specially designed to go into inner passages, allowing more opportunities to experience nature. We were fortunate with the weather. During the daylight which lasted for about twenty hours, the outside temperature hovered at 70°F.

When I woke up at 6:30 and went out on the balcony, I was overwhelmed with emotions seeing the beauty. In front of me there were peaks of the snow-covered mountains and pieces of ice slowly drifted in the opposite direction. The blue sky and dark blue water framed these images. Today, was a leisure day without any excursions. We could enjoy the beauty of the College Fjord, to read, to write, to eat and of course to photograph. I doubt if you can feel what I felt, but at least you can enjoy these three images.

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Fridays with Manny


What is Seward’s Ice Box?

Our journey in Alaska started in Seward. Only when I checked online, I learned that it was named after United States Secretary of State, William H. Seward who negotiated to buy Alaska from the Russians on March 30, 1867 for $7.2 million. “Seward’s Folly” was widely criticized. It was called Icebergia, Polaria, Walrussia and Seward’s Ice Box. After the purchase was made, Alaska was neglected for awhile. The first census in 1880 found 33,426 people living there. 1,756 Creoles – children of mixed marriages between the Russians and local women; the rest were different tribes of Alaskan Natives. There were only 430 non-natives.

Things changed with the Klondike Gold Rush, when between 1896 and 1899, 100,000 prospectors arrived there. Some of them left when there was not enough gold; however, many stayed. In 2021, the population of Alaska was 732,670 people, with the Alaskan Natives representing about fifteen percent. Seward, a city with the population of less than three thousand, is a port located in the inlet of the Kenai Peninsula. 

From here, our ship will take us to see ice fields, coastal fjords, glaciers, and perhaps some wild animals.

These images show the beginning of our journey.

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Fridays with Manny


Beginning of the Journey

The evening before the start of our cruise, we had to take a Covid-19 test, to ensure we were going onto the ship with negative results. Thankfully we passed the test, and were able to sleep with peace of mind.

The next day, we took a bus to the port city called Seward, where we were to board the ship. On the way, we enjoyed beautiful views of snow covered mountains and passed some of the 3,197 officially named natural lakes of ice cold water. We also stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the place where you could see Alaska’s wild animals, who end up there for rehabilitation. There is a Bald Eagle, whose wing had to be amputated. Black and brown bears, wolves, bisons, moose, muskox, caribou and elk. Though the animals were enclosed, unlike in zoos, they had a lot of space to move freely. As we found out later during our trip, this was the only place we could encounter wild animals up close without endangering them or ourselves.

These three images are only a pick of our experience.

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Fridays with Manny


How To Get Around

This is the second essay about our trip to Alaska. Here is the first one.

When we took a Trolley Tour around Anchorage, we were taken to some points of interest. One of them was an Earthquake Park, which commemorates the quake of 1964.

Another one was to watch the floatplanes. Anchorage used to be called “Air Crossroads of the World”. It was the busiest floatplane base in the world and has more pilots and airplanes per capita than anywhere else in the United States. It also has the largest U.S. Air Force base in Alaska. Anchorage has five sites, where planes land and take off, which is fun to watch. We visited Lake Hood. The seaplane floats that cost between $20,000 and $50,000, which does not include the cost of the parking spot, which are not always readily available. We were told a story about parents, who registered for a parking spot when their son was born. Sixteen years later, the spot was available; however, the young man did not have his pilot license or experience yet. Since then, the rule changed and only pilots who have both can apply. We did not try to fly it but flying on a private seaplane could be a fun way to experience Alaska. Perhaps on our next visit to Alaska. Meanwhile, please enjoy these three images. 

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Fridays With Manny


Greetings From Anchorage

When I tell friends that we just came back from a cruise to Alaska, the common response is that Alaska is on the top of their destination list. Therefore, I decided to share our experience to “whet your appetite”. Please let me know when you are ready.

This is the first post describing our daily encounters during a two-week voyage from Anchorage to Vancouver. Our trip to Alaska was almost accidental, though my wife Elfa has wanted to go there for many years. Before Covid-19, we were booked for a cruise to Iceland, with Hurtigruten Expeditions. We went with them to the Fjords in Norway in 2017, and enjoyed the experience of traveling on a smaller ship. As the scare of Covid subsided in 2022, we booked this year’s trip to go from Lisbon to Hamburg (Iceland was not available in the spring). A month before our trip, we were informed that it was canceled for technical reasons. So our next choice was Alaska.

My first encounter was from the airplane. The view of high mountain peaks covered with snow was magical. We decided to explore Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, for a few days before beginning our journey into nature.

Anchorage was born as a tent city in 1914, with the purpose of building a railroad and a port, when Congress passed the Alaska Railroad Act. To explore the area we took an Anchorage Tourist Trolley, which drove us around for an hour, and we learned some tidbits about the local life.

The Earthquake of 1964 destroyed most of Anchorage’s neighborhoods. It was quickly rebuilt and now has a population of about 300,000 friendly people. The “red” woman is working for the Red Trolley Company. I encountered three beautiful women at the best breakfast restaurant “Snow City Café”. They were laughing after I told them one of the jokes from my book “42 Encounters with Laughter”. I promise you will laugh too.

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Fridays with Manny


Lessons From History

It takes me about twelve minutes to drive to my office. However, since I take Max to his dog walker three times a week, my journey extends to about forty-five minutes. I look forward to this extra time, since it allows me to continue my ongoing education. Almost forty years ago, I developed a habit of listening to audio tapes while driving. Originally, they were motivational programs, however, after I discovered “The Great Courses”, my listening became educational. 

Over the years, I learned a great deal about many subjects. The latest was a course taught by Professor J. Rufus Fears titled, “Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life”. The course provides a synopsis of thirty-two books written by many great authors like, Plato’s “Republic” and George Orwell’s “1984”.

There were many lessons conveyed by each book. One of the authors was Sir Winston Churchill, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. I can relate to his famous proclamation, “Never, Never, Never Give Up”. Some people like to read historical books, while others prefer to dress up in historical clothing, like these women I encountered in Golden Gate Park, who are members of the “Greater Bay Area Costume Guild”.

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