on deck ready to view glacier (Sandra Woerner)
I awoke at 5 and got up shortly before 6. I walked to the lounge which was about six steps for our cabin door. There was fruit on the bar and coffee and hot tea always available. I drank a cup of hot tea with local fireweed honey. I sat in the lounge and watched the mountain and islands glide by. After eating a breakfast of buttermilk pancakes and bacon and some cinnamon French toast, we found ourselves docked at Glacier Park to pick up a couple of forest rangers. Howard, our Tlingit cultural guide, ate with us. Being a retired teacher, I am always interested in the schools where I visit. He told us that basketball was very big there and most teams had to travel by ferry and stay several days. These trips cost several thousands of dollars.He also told us that in P.E. the kids would be dropped off in the wilderness for four days with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I don't know if this was for the seniors or exactly who, but I think it may be a good idea as there are some very remote places in Alaska and being able to survive on a daily basis would be a must. We picked up Park Ranger Andrea and William,at Bartlett Cove. William spoke the Tlingit language and told us about the two clans, Eagle and Raven. We learned that it is a matrilineal culture. Andrea told us about the many birds on the South Marble Islands. We saw Kitiwiks in cracks on the sides of cliffs and some cormorants. Aspen wanted to see puffins and we did see several swimming in the water. There are Tufted Puffins and Horned puffins. they are not very good at flying, but excel at diving. We saw a Black Oyster Catcher on the pebbled beach. We saw many other types of birds and hundreds of sea lions sunbathing on the rocks. As we got closer to the glacier, it started to get cold and windy on deck where most of us viewed the wildlife with binoculars provided by the cruise line. Each passenger was also provided with rain and wind proof pants and jackets and water proof boots. The twenty member crew was so nice and helpful in every way. We met so many nice people on the cruise. Glacier Bay is 3.3 million acres. Moose arrived there in the 60s. A popular saying is- ''When the tide is out, the table is set''. The animals come out to eat at low tide.We were told about the calving of glaciers. Calve comes from ''to drop''. We learned that 95 per cent of glaciers are retreating. Margerie Glacier is one of the most active glaciers for calving. There is a rifle-like crack and a loud roar when this happens and it creates a turbulence. Our ship at another glacier was rocked pretty hard from large waves when there occurred a large calving. Margerie Glacier is a 21 mile long tide water glacier and is part of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. (a tidewater glacier is defined as a glacier which generate sufficient snow to flow out from the mountains to the sea) William told us about the Tlingit natives and said they had only an oral language until the 1960s. Some younger Tlingit people are working to keep their ancestral language alive. On Marble Island, we saw a brown bear and several mountain goats. There was one very young goat. I am always amazed at their agility as they can climb almost straight up steep mountain sides. We also saw hundreds of Stellar sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks. Stellar sea lions are much larger than harbor seals and have articulated flippers that bend so they can climb. They also have extended ear folds which seals do not have. We saw puffins here also. What a wondrous place! We also saw two orcas swimming gracefully in the water. This was one day we all wore our rain gear provided by the cruise line. It really felt like we were in Alaska. Most days the temperature hovered at 70 degrees. Perfect!! For lunch, I ate a crab cake and veggie burger which was quite different from any I had ever eaten. I had black beans and corn in it. For dessert, I had apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Mary , our scientific guide, was very knowledgeable, especially about salmon. She welcomed questions from everyone. Our trip to Glacier Bay was a round trip of 120 miles . As I readied for bed that night, I wondered if the first day was this exceptional, how could it get better? There were four other young people on the cruise so Aspen enjoyed playing cards and games with them when we were just sailing. They started eating together also. For dinner that evening, I ate Red snapper and pear salad with bread pudding and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Of course, we never missed the hors d'ouevres served every afternoon. Adventure Life should post a warning with this cruise that you might gain several pounds. Ha, but so worth it. We docked at Bartlett Cove at 7:45 where Andrea and William left us. Aspen, Cody and I walked the Forest Trail several times. We were back on the ship by 9:45. Tomorrow, we go to Mendenhall glacier and Juneau.