Cruising Glacier Bay #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travel button
One of the highlights of my recent Alaska Cruise was the day we spent cruising in Glacier Bay National Park. I don’t know when I’ve seen such spectacular scenery. I took more than 150 photos that day. You’ll be happy to know that I don’t plan to share all of them today.

welcome to Glacier Bay

The park rangers came on board in a small boat (nowhere to dock) so we had their commentary all morning. Since Jann and I had a cabin with a balcony, we stayed there most of the day, except for a brief trip to the dining room for lunch. The average high temperature in Glacier Bay in June is 60.4 degrees, but since there wasn’t much sun that day, I’m sure the temps were well below average. This very unflattering picture of me dressed like Nanook of the North tells the tale. I was wearing about four more layers under my rain jacket, plus fur-lined boots, knit cap and gloves! And yes, I’m a spoiled Southern California weather wimp, but it really was cold out there on the open sea with glaciers on all sides.

Linda at Glacier Bay

It was interesting to hear the history of the first European explorers to venture this way. The ice in those days was so thick that they couldn’t get as far into the bay as we did. So while I wanted to think that this wildly spectacular scenery isn’t much different than when John Muir visited in 1879, but it is. Grand Pacific Glacier provides evidence. The reason it looks black rather than white is because it is a retreating, and unhealthy, glacier.

Grand Pacific Glacier

Margerie Glacier, on the other hand, is holding its own, and is much prettier. Note the blue color of the glacial ice.

Margerie Glacier

Though whales were spotted by other passengers, I didn’t actually see any that day. I think we were a little early in the season. I was fascinated by the floating ice floes with dots on them that turned out to be sea gulls and other birds.

Ice floe with seagulls

If anyone doubts the glacier are melting, take a look at this glacial waterfall.

Glacial Waterfall

Here’s a close-up of the glacier:

close up of glacier

That night we celebrated my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding anniversary in the dining room, along with singing waiters and a delicious chocolate cake.


The day ended with another gorgeous sunset at sea.

sunset at sea

What a wonderful cruise. Next stop: Ketchikan.


Musher’s Camp & Sled Dog Experience #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travel buttonOne of the highlights of my recent Alaska cruise was our afternoon excursion from Skagway to the Musher’s Camp for a sled dog ride and a chance to hold a puppy. Wild horses couldn’t have prevented me from going.

Our guide for the day was a young man from South Carolina named Jay, or J-dot as he liked to be called. He drove us out to the musher’s camp in a national forest outside Skagway. It’s a beautiful rural area, as you can see in this photo.

Alaska sceneWe had to stop the bus some distance from the camp. After a short hike, we were loaded into this military-style vehicle (I forget the official name) for the drive to where the sled dogs were waiting.

military vehicleFour teams of sled dogs awaited us, some of them barking madly, apparently ready to run! Now if you’re expecting to see photos of beautiful purebred Siberian or Malamute huskies, you’ll be disappointed. The dogs used for sled racing in Alaska are mixed breed. The mushers breed huskies with other breeds that are bred for speed, like greyhounds. What they get is a Heinz 57 of mixed breeds of various colors, including some with blue eyes, though the body type is typically long and lean. (Huskies are good for expeditions where strength is more important than speed.)

sled dogsThis one had green eyes, though I never could get him to look into the camera lens to prove it.

white sled dogWe piled into four golf carts, each one pulled by a team of eight dogs.

mushers campIf you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.

sled dog team

Each team was made up of an experienced sled dog paired with a younger dog, typically about eleven months old. The dogs are harness on either side of a trace that runs down the middle of the dogs to the sled. Once they got started, it wasn’t difficult to figure out which ones were the newbie. One of them jumped a little too high and ended up straddling the middle trace. He didn’t look too comfortable.

sled dog team

At one point, the vehicle slowed a bit and I saw that one of the dogs had paused to do his business. Others just lifted their leg out to the side, and not always the outward side! I imagine they had to be hosed down at the end of the day. We were all laughing during the run. The kicker was when one of the dogs jumped over the middle trace to hump the dog next to him. That had everyone laughing. What can I say? Dogs being dogs.

Jay and friends

J dot (on the left) and friends

When we got back to the camp, we watched a short presentation about running the Iditarod. Then came the high point of the trip for many, esp. the children (of all ages) in the group. We got to hold two-week old puppies. Charlie Brown was right: Happiness is a warm puppy.

brown puppy

Linda cradling a two-week-old puppy.

Another litter was taking a nap. I love the way they sleep all piled on top of each other. They really are pack animals from birth.

puppiesWhen we got back to the cruise ship, we saw that another musher had brought a group of older puppies on board for people to hold. It was a fun day for all.