We had a great time at Glacier Bay National Park a couple of weeks ago. Getting there was half the fun. We flew from Fairbanks to Anchorage where we had to change planes for a flight to Juneau. As some of you may know, Juneau is the capital of Alaska, and there is no road access to the city. You have to either fly in or arrive by boat. Anyway, we flew, and had a great view of Mendenhall Glacier on the approach. From Juneau, we caught a flight to Gustavas (rhymes with Gus Davis) and then boarded a bus for the twenty minute drive to Glacier Bay Lodge. The lodge had a main building with pods of guest rooms joined to the main lodge by decks and walkways. This was the view from our room…
We did a couple of cruises out into the park; one to see glaciers and the other to look for whales. The glacier cruise was not particularly exciting, but the whale watch cruise was OUTSTANDING. I’ll talk about that in some later messages. For now I just want to cover the other things we did at Glacier Bay.
All the meals were provided at the lodge. Food was pretty good, but we did have an interesting experience at breakfast. We ordered the typical breakfast fare…Paula had tea, orange juice and oatmeal, while I had “The Bartlett” which was blueberry pancakes and three strips of bacon. When we got the bill, it looked like this…
1 Hot Tea 2.00
1 Orange Juice 2.00
1 Oatmeal 4.00
1 Bartlett 8.00
City Tax 0.33
Well, I glanced at it and noticed right away that there was a mysterious $0.50 in the total that did not appear in the itemized bill. Of course, $0.50 is not much money, but I was curious as to what the explanation could be. I spoke with our waiter who had no idea. He spoke with another waiter who said it was a charge for the bacon with the Bartlett. At that, I pointed out that the menu included the bacon with the pancakes for only $8.00. Finally, they admitted that they had no idea where the extra $0.50 came from. I asked if this had been happening all summer, and they claimed that they had not seen it before. Just to test the system, I ordered the Bartlett the next day, and…guess what…another mysterious $0.50 with no explanation! I spoke with the manager, but she could give no reason for the mysterious charge. I just deducted it from the tip!
There were several hiking trails around the lodge. After dinner one evening, Paula and I took a stroll down to the dock. As we were making our way back to our room, a black bear stepped out onto the trail about 30 yards in front of us. It was a pretty good sized bear, about 300 pounds or so, and it was just sauntering along in our direction. We stopped. We backed up. The bear kept walking and appeared to look at us. We kept backing up. The bear turned off the path and disappeared into the brush. Since the bear had been between us and our room, we continued on down the path to our room and did not see the bear. The next morning, while I was dickering over the extra $0.50, Paula headed back to the room and saw the bear eating berries just off the boardwalk leading to our room. Since she couldn’t get to the room, she came back to get me…but by the time we got back there, the bear was gone. She did manage to get a photo.
This part of Alaska is a rainforest. One of the hiking trails meanders through a really damp, lush area. We hiked about three miles out the trail (and three miles back!) and took these shots.
More on the whales later…maybe tomorrow!!!
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