Saturday, July 12, 2014

I parted the curtains this morning at 7:00, revealing torrential rain coming down in Beartrack Cove. They call it Alaskan liquid sunshine on the ship. Sounds a lot better than miserable, soul-sucking rain. The change from last night’s “dessert glacier” and the retreat from the glacier is striking.

IMG_3796Gone are the icy chunks, or growlers, and in their place, wide sandy gravel beaches, with small sedge grass meadows meeting the Sitka pine forest. The tide is out, and as our un-cruise interpreters like to say, “The table is set.”

I scratched my name off the sign up list for the 9:30 small boat tour this morning, opting instead to stay in the lounge in the dry warm comfort of my husband’s company for another half hour. Departure at 10:00AM.

I figured out that over the seven days of this trip, Jimmie will have done almost 1400 steps as in stairs, on the ship.

14 down from 300 level deck to Lounge x 4 daily x 7 days.

14 down from lounge to dining room x 3 daily x 7 days

14 up from dining room level x 3 daily x 7 days

14 up from lounge level x 4 daily x 7 days.

Total 1,372 steps. Not bad for 87 with no knees left.

At 87 (note to self) more attention needs to be paid to the construction of the ship and the conveyance from floor to floor for someone with limited mobility. It is Saturday, and Jimmie has slowed, but intrepidly climbs the stairs with his cane. We had them stow the walker when we boarded the Safari Endeavor because the cabins are small and there was nowhere to store it. He has been getting around with his cane and the use of the banisters on the ship.

Today is our second day in Glacier Bay, and our last day for “ops”, i.e. options, operations, and due to the rain we will go out in the small boat at 10:00. It will presumably be our last chance to see a bear or a moose, I figure, though  the weather doesn’t seem very hospitable for either. I don’t know – do bears like the rain? Does it keep them cool while they are fishing on the side of the banks?

So, at 9:45AM, Dad and Sally and I donned our life jackets and got into the zodiac, with Ken as our guide. We pulled away from the ship and went slowly and quietly- no talking!

Some very bedraggled bald eagles
Some very bedraggled bald eagles

We passed a few more bedraggled looking bald eagles- I am happy that even by today, the last day if the trip, I have not reached Alaska Judy’s anticipated “ho hum” phase of seeing too many bald eagles. They are thrilling each and every time I see one, either sitting, or winging along- truly majestic. What a good choice for a national symbol.

And to recap the day, here is the poem I wrote and read at the last dinner aboard the Safari Endeavor. What a wonderful week it was and I am so grateful to my Dad and his generosity in organizing this trip!

A Bear Tale

I warn you gentle listeners that we hail from

LA where imagineers often come.

But as I narrate this, my heart pounds still-

Today’s the day we had our fill

Of Alaska’s wildness felt firsthand

A tale we all can share again on land.

The rain was thick upon the bay,

And wispy fog trails crept up the piney slopes,

The tide was out, the table set,

And we were all so darned wet.

Our pontoon boat was filled with merriment,

Because we knew the bears were imminent.

Captain Shana pulled the cord,

And our boat glided slowly along the shore.

What’s that beside us? An Eagle or two,

And there a harbor seal and some loons.

Merganser ducks skip across the water

And we raise our binocs so that we can see farther.

The shoreline was still, no grasses bended,

Our arms grew tired as to the shore we wended.

Quite a distance we went, the rain still drenching,

Anticipation of the bears caused our teeth to be clenching.

To Beardsley islands we will go,

Spoke Ken in tones revered and low,

The motor revved, and off we sped

Liquid sunshine hitting us hard in the head.

We glided to a stop in a bay by a beach

The grasses near us almost within reach.

We cowered quaking in our boat,

Visions of bears crossing this little moat.

And then we waited

And waited some more

Keeping our eyes peeled on the shore.

Alas, it seems no bears appeared at all,

Intrepid Ken, giving an owl’s call.

No bushes parted as we waited there.

Fear began to wane as our gazes stared.

Disappointed, we turned to go in,

Shana giving the motor a spin.

But what was happening?

No motor was spinning.

And as we sat, the clouds suddenly cleared

And up on the beach, a sow and two cubs appeared.

And wait, behind them, the angry male

Standing to his full fearsome height, was wagging his tail?

Shana calmly radioed back to our captain,

That the boat was dead and we needed a tow.

Meanwhile on the shore, came a moose from the back

A pileated woodpecker sat up on his rack.

A rainbow emerged o’er the game-filled shore,

And everyone on the boat was so stunned that before

They could raise up their cameras to capture the thrill,

Shana started the boat and we puttered back through the krill.

It isn’t every day that the terrors are real

That expectations are high

And you see more than a seal.

But every once in a while on the Safari Endeavor

The game is so thick that in spite of the weather

You share something extraordinary with all your new friends

Often just as the voyage comes to an end.

Els Collins 7/12/14

The following clip is what didn’t happen to us and I think I’m feeling pretty happy about that!

Would love to hear what you are thinking!

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