Tag Archives: Glacier

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess – Fifth Posting

We remained on-board for the remainder of the cruise. Our last day in Alaska was a cruise up the Tracy Arm Fjord to the Sawyer Island Glacier.

We spent a few hours at the glacier and then begin the two and a half day cruise back to San Francisco.

I have to tell you about my biggest complaint about the ship, Internet. They charge almost two-hundred dollars for ten hours of service. That is why there was no blog posting during the ten-day trip. Believe it or not, the cruise line charges the crew the same amount.

I was up at 5:30 a.m. We approached the glacier as I got topside. It was biting cold. The bay was clear of any other vessels.

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Glacier

I took these at 5:50 a.m. as we slowly neared the glacier. Crew members told us that sometimes the fog is so heavy that they can’t get close enough to see the glacier.

The ship rotated so that every passenger and stateroom had sufficient time to watch and photograph the glacier.

We had breakfast at the Horizon Buffet with a window seat. Enjoying breakfast, I forgot just how cold it was outside.

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We had a room service order for coffee at 6:00 a.m. The waiter was new to the crew and had never seen a glacier. Cathy invited him in. He was in awe of it. We got him to snap this photo of us with the glacier in the back ground. I prepared well for the weather, shorts and my ever-present Aloha shirt.

After we went topside, I remembered just how cold it was. We saw movement from the glacier. We watched a huge slab of ice break away. The splash was followed by a tremendous roar.

Camera crew

We heard a motorboat and then this zodiac boat came into view. It was a five member film crew. The man standing in the bow looks for ice. If spots a large piece he warns the boat operator, if small he has a long pole to push it away. They moved very slowly.

Film Crew

This iceberg was one hundred yards or so from the ship. With the zodiac at the right side you get an idea of how large it is.

Visiting Glacier Bay a dozen years ago, several cruise ships moved about. The Tracy Arm Fjord is much smaller. When the Grand Princess was rotating, there wasn’t much more than a hundred yards from either end to shore. Traversing the fjord out to the open sea, there were places where two ships could not have shared the passage.

The trip back out to the open sea remained cold, biting cold with snow-capped mountains on both side of the fjord.

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The mountain is about fifty yards from the right side of the ship. There isn’t much more room on the left. We turned and passed through the notch visible in the center of this picture.

This was a successful cruise. We enjoyed ourselves; saw some good shows and sights.

The Writer

I’m happy to report that during the cruise, I wrote over 15,000 words. Of those almost eleven thousand were for the new novel.

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Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess – Second Post

We spent Tuesday, the 23rd in Ketchikan. We decided against organized tours opting instead to walk the town. Ketchikan is three blocks wide and three miles long.

Creek Street

Creek Street is a creek with buildings along both sides. In the early 1800s the occupants were brothels and a shingle factory. At the bottom of Creek Street a bridge links the road that runs through the city. About a half dozen people were fishing from it. All but one was local. He was off the Grand Princess. As we walked up he caught a salmon. One of the kids scrambled down the rocks and retrieved the fish. The man told the kid, “Keep it. I’m off the ship and I just want to catch fish.”

We chatted with this same man three days later after he took our picture at the Tracy Arm Glacier. He didn’t want to spend several hundred dollars and rush to and from a fishing boat. He started to rent a pole for thirty dollars an hour plus all kinds of add-ons. Instead he went to a local hardware store where he got a 3-Day license, pole, line, and half a dozen jigs for $105.00. He caught thirteen salmon and gave them all to the locals. As he later told us, “It was a great day of fishing, and a third the cost of a tour boat.” Not only did he catch a passel of fish, he used a light line and got to play the fish. On the boats they use fifty-pound test and yank the fish out of the water.

I know what I’m doing the next time I visit Ketchikan.

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One of the local kids bringing up his catch.

Fish Creek Salmon

Salmon at the upper end of Creek Street.

My dad used to tell us how as a kid on Moffett Creek, near Fort Jones, California he and his dad used pitchforks to harvest salmon. I had my doubts; after all he was a teller of tall tales. Now I believe him.

We walked to the outskirts of town. At a Salvation Army Thrift Store I found a rack of tourist T-Shirts on the front porch. They were all new and priced at $2.00 a bargain. There must have been twenty. I figured on buying a couple. My plans were thwarted. A woman, a fellow ship passenger, stepped between me and the shirts. She literally pushed me away without a word of apology. Cathy pulled a shirt from the back of the rack, “Hold on to this.” Before I could turn back, the woman had taken every shirt. I half expected the “B” to take the one I held.

We continued on to the edge of town were the IGA grocery store is owned by a Japanese family. The original owners came to Ketchikan in the early thirties. They built a hotel and store, ultimately closing the hotel. At the beginning of World War II they were forced into one of Roosevelt’s Internment Camps as enemy aliens. While they were interned, friends ran the store. When the family returned, the friends gave back the store and all the profits. The great grandchildren now own the store. The owner has a sign on her office door, Fish Fear Me. You think she likes to fish?

Liquor Store

Next to the grocery is a state liquor store. This is the inside of the door.

Heading back downtown it began to rain. By the time we got back onboard the ship we were soaked.

At 7:00 p.m. we entered the Snow Straits. They are five-hundred meters wide, not much wider than the length of the Grand Princess. We saw several dolphin and whales.

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Father’s Day on the Road

Father’s Day started at 8:50 a.m. when we left Glacier National Park – East Gate. It was cold and we dressed light. I was wearing 5-11 Cotton Cargo pants and a sweatshirt over a T-Shirt. 40º at 60 – 70 MPH is colder than I like.

The ride from East Gate to West Gate is 55 miles of glorious scenery. US 2 skirts the south side of Glacier National Park. This ride just gets better and better.

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Snow covered mountains stood to the north for most of the way. During the hour long ride to West Gate, we saw 20+ oncoming motorcyclists.

Biker welcoming curves enhanced the ride. There were no unfriendly curves.

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Last year when we ate breakfast at the West Glacier Village Restaurant, we met two Russian couples who were riding from the West Coast to New York. They were interesting. We decided to eat there again.

After breakfast we had fifty of the most boring miles of the entire trip. Within miles of West Gate, the scenery took a holiday. We had no scenery but plenty of traffic. The ride to Kalispell was just plain boring.

Ten miles west of Kalispell the great Montana countryside returned, as did the heat. Within an hour I was down to a T-Shirt and sans gloves.

Father’s Day riders were everywhere. After a hundred on-coming bikes, I lost count. During the ride, I estimated over two-hundred bikes. The next day the count for the day was probably around fifty.

We began the day in Montana and ended at Newport, Idaho. It was only a 290 mile day, but we were tired. We were in bed by 8:30 p.m.

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Lewis & Clark and D.E.E.R. v. Harleys

We passed an interesting night at the Town House Inns & Casino – Great Falls. Jim and I believe that every girl’s baseball team in the age range twelve to sixteen was there. The sounds and action didn’t slow down until at least ten, but then the parents took over.

Up at seven, I was pleased to see not a single cloud in the sky. It was cold but clear. I stuffed all my foul weather gear, including boots, in my dry bag. Once completely packed and strapped down, I couldn’t find my dark glasses. They are in my foul weather jacket, the very first item in the bottom of the dry bag. I will not unpack, besides the glasses are scratched.

A stop at Big Sky Harley-Davidson solved my problem. I bought glasses from the clearance table.

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We spent over two hours at the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. From the observation area you can see one of the five waterfalls that the Corps of Discovery had to portage. They pulled canoes, boats, and all their equipment overland for eighteen miles to get around the falls.

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This gives one an idea of what they had to do to portage. The expedition carried tons of equipment. As a military unit they had to carry ammunition. Captain Clark came up with a unique method. He used lead to make ten inch canisters that he filled with gun powder and sealed with bees wax. If boats capsized, the canisters went to the bottom where they could be recovered. Everything else was swept downstream.

They had a hands on exhibition with a docent who explained about Indian weapons and those used by the expedition. One interesting item was a bullet mold. Jim said, “I saw one just like that being used in a movie, The Patriot.” The docent picked up a mold that was hundreds of years old and said, “This is the mold they used in the movie.”

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Our next stop was Choteau (Show-Toe) at the Log Cabin Café where they serve an excellent three bean soup. Even better was the sour cream raisin pie.

Choteau is part of the Rocky Mountain Front. “The Rocky Mountain Front forms the seam between the wild lands and wilderness of the Lewis and Clark National Forest and the foothills and the plains domesticated by area ranchers and farmers.” The area is sparsely populated.

Leaving Choteau Jim let me pass him and take the lead. This surprised me. He almost always leads. I think the reason has to do with cruise control. The lead bike can set any speed desired and relax. Harley’s never seem to mesh when on cruise control. The second bike has to change speed every mile or so.

I set my speed at 75 MPH, relaxed and put my feet up on the highway pegs. I went about three miles before turning off cruise control and put my feet on the floorboards. I had a premonition. Less than a minute later I saw movement on my right. A D.E.E.R. came in to sight. The buck jumped a fence that was maybe fifteen feet from the roadway. It landed and made a left turn toward the road about fifty feet in front of me. I stood on the brakes while telling myself, Don’t lose it, Don’t skid, Don’t go down.

The buck turned back to a parallel path, I eased off the brakes. It turned back in an instant. The dang thing was about ten feet from me as I went by.

Jim came upon the D.E.E.R. and had a similar experience. The buck jumped over the fence and back into the field and then jumped back and ran across the road in front of him.

My heart was beating so hard it seemed I could hear and feel it. I pulled off the road and stopped. Jim pulled up next to me. When my heart returned to normal, I looked at Jim and pointed down the road. I said, “Go ahead.”

Jim said, “No, you can lead, I’m not.”

I think he wanted me to run interference.

As a reminder and for those new to our motorcycle adventures:

D – Dangerous
E – Evil
E – Everywhere
R – Rodent

Deer are a rider’s worst nightmare. Except for automobiles, deer have killed more motorcyclists than anything else.

A half hour later I was negotiating some very tricky gravel when another D.E.E.R. appeared. Fortunately this one was standing about a hundred yards off the roadway.

Over the next fifty miles we were treated to some easy riding as the Rocky Mountain Front provided some astonishing scenery.

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The road seems to go on forever. The Rocky Mountains are coming into view on the horizon.

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The snow covered Rockies rise above the plains, almost as a skyscraper rises from a sidewalk. The sight is unbelievably beautiful.

We are spending the night at the Dancing Bears Inn, East Glacier Park, Montana.

I wanted to ride the Going-To-The-Sun Road from East to West this year. It is the only road through Glacier National Park. We rode it West to East last year. The road is closed due to snow. The upside is that we’ll be able to take US 2 which skirts the southern boundaries of the park.

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