The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Glacier Bay


This is an update to the Glacier Bay post (An update from Windows wiped out my ability to post. It took me quite a while to figure out the problem. Meanwhile, the wifi in Glacier Bay lodge quit working. Sigh)

I'm sitting in the lodge at Glacier Bay trying to do this posting to my blog. I don't think it will work. There is wireless Internet here, but it is very slow. There is absolutely no phone service, so all my communications have to be through my email,

It rained again this morning. It has rained every day since I began this trip a little over a month ago. The people here don't like all the rain, although I don't think any of them would trade places with those back home where records are being set the other way: high temperatures and draught. The rain and cold temperatures here are good for the flowers, which grow in verdant abundance, but not so good for the gardens, which refuse to grow at all. What hath God wrought?

I got to Glacier Bay by ferry from Juneau. This is kind of a new thing. Before the State of Alaska began the ferry runs here three years ago, the only way to come was by private boat or airplane.

I started seeing wildlife as soon as Odysseus and I rode up the steep ramp out of the boat. These bald eagles were all over the beach fighting over fish. There were dozens of them. I was not able to stop and get a good picture. That is one of my goals when I catch the ferry back to Juneau tomorrow.

I drove immediately to Glacier Bay National Park where I checked on lodging. As I suspected, rooms here are terribly expensive ($200 per night). Camping, however, is free and is in a beautiful rainforest down by the beach. Lets see: free camping with bears and rain, or $600 for three nights in a warm room with soft beds. No contest. Remember, my nickname is tightwad.

The money I saved by camping more than paid for the all day boat ride out into Glacier Bay. I had already met the ranger who went out on the boat with us. His name is Kevin, and he has a job with the government which allows him time to travel all over the world (He's not very rich though, since he only works about three months a year. Still, he was a really cool guy, and a biology major like me.

The first thing he showed us was this island full of seals. They were a lazy and sleepy bunch, but also very noisy. Maybe they are big snorers.  Nah--just kidding.

There were birds all over the place. Here are two of my favorites. Try to guess what they are--
They are puffins; horned puffins to be exact. There were tufted puffins there too, and I got their picture as well, but I won't bore you with with pictures of them-- when you've seen one puffin you've seen the lot.

Soon we came to a rocky beach where we let off some of the sea kayakers we had on board. They were planning a week of exploring out there. We had just seen a mama grizzly with two cubs (one black and the other silver--very cute) and also a pair of wolves, but nobody seemed too concerned. Brave people, these kayakers.

Just a few minutes later we saw a whole herd of mountain goats cavorting around on the sheer cliffs. I think you or I would have fallen off into the bay. Since none of the goats looked too wet, I guess they don't fall into the water much.
Soon, we were to the main event of the day: the glaciers. Noisy, booming things they were, calving off big chunks, dropping them into the water, and making huge waves. Somebody took my picture with the glacier in the background. I took some pictures of the icebergs falling off the glacier, but it turns out that still pictures of falling ice are rather much of a bore, not at all like actually being there watching it happen.

So here is a picture of me instead (I bet most people would rather see ice falling off the glacier :-)

These orcas were playing all around the boat. They were a male and female according to our on-board ranger. I wonder what orcas play. It can't be hide-and-seek I think. The ranger said they were feeding, and I guess he should know. Like children, they would not pose for me (Bad Orcas!) so I apologise for the poor quality of the picture.  The same could be said of the humpback whale we saw. I could not get a good picture of him either.

As I said, I am camping here in Glacier Bay Park. This area is a rainforest, all drippy and mossy. I have enjoyed walking the trails. This is a picture of a sphagnum bog close to my tent.

What would you think if you came around a bend in the trail and saw this guy carved into a tree?

It is a Tlingit Indian totem. It means "This trail belongs to the Eagle Clan". The Indians came and talked with us one night at the Park. Very interesting.

Now it is time for me to catch the ferry back to Juneau. Tall with you later.


Stay tuned