After our long travel from Paraguay to Alaska, it took about three days before we were finally starting to feel rested and back to normal. With at least three of us full of energy, we all boarded a 8-hour boat tour to see Glacier Bay National Park with a park ranger narrating the visit.
Each year there are 600,000 visitors to Glacier Bay National Park. About 90% of those visitors are on one of the two daily cruise ships that visit the park. The other ten percent, like us, board a boat in or near the national park. There are no roads in the park, and in fact the north end of the park near the Canadian border is further from a road than any other spot in the United States.
It was about 75 and sunny, really amazing weather. It’s never this nice, everyone kept saying. It was chillier closer to the glaciers though!
We had a great day on the boat and our wildlife spotting included sea lions, otters, puffins, bald eagles (adults and a juvenile), whales spouting, cormorants, a mountain goat and baby, and (my favorite) costal brown bears on the shore foraging for food, turning over rocks and opening shells.
The glaciers, especially Margerie Glacier, were stunning.
Lunch was served on the boat. There were sandwiches for the adults and chicken nuggets for the kids. Kevin ate his chicken nuggets while laying on the floor.
We saw two cruise ships and we dropped off a few kayakers who were embarking on weeklong camping/kayaking adventure. Our boat captain wished them well and told us, “They’re now in the food chain!”
Danny and Patrick successfully completed a Junior Ranger activity books and took oaths as Junior Rangers, complete with a patch and badge. Kev, after hearing repeated talk of Junior Rangers, kept saying he wanted to be a power ranger.
We arrived back at the lodge mid-afternoon and spent some time hiking the trails around the lodge.
We saw a whale skeleton along the way.
Kevin was very interested in all the tiny rocks along the gravel path. “I pick one” he kept saying, even though he had picked as many as his little hands and pockets would hold.
Danny was excited to see a carving in a tree trunk. “We found a clue!” he said.
We had a nice walk!
We ate dinner at the lodge again and I had a delicious salmon filet stuffed with snow crab and topped with a chipotle citrus butter.
The next day was the Fourth of July and we were all excited to celebrate the day in the United States for the first time in years. We went to the town of Gustavus, thankful the gorgeous and unusually warm weather continued. It was 80 and sunny.
The town park was all set up for the celebration. There was a homemade pie contest and I sampled some delicious apple pie.
The boys played with a nice dog.
The kids played with trucks and moose antlers.
There was a parade down the main street of the town. The parade participants then turned around and came back, so we got to see everything twice.
Wa saw an acrobat doing tricks on the back of a patriotic painted horse.
The airport fire trucks did a demonstration with their hoses.
The parade definitely had a few hippies too.
After the parade, Boy Scouts did a flag raising ceremony and town residents read the Declaration of Independence, with each sentence read by a different volunteer.
After everyone sang the national anthem, there was a ceremony to inaugurate the town’s new playground. The playground was decorated with red, white, and blue balloons. The town mayor told all the kids to grab a balloon and pop it. Three balloons had a piece of paper inside indicating a prize for whomever popped that balloon. Danny got a prize – a badminton set – and he was so excited. It was so big, he could barely carry it!
The celebration continued with a slow bike race, a three legged race, and race to fill up a PVC pipe with water and spill the puffin out the top of the pipe.
This year, there was no greased flagpole contest because the tide was too low, and the party organizers were concerned that participants could fall and seriously hurt themselves in shallow water. The town firemen hosted a barbecue lunch. Danny and Patrick had hotdogs.
The excitement of the party was too much for Kev, who fell asleep.
Patrick and Danny climbed on a big carved wooden bear in the town.
We took the green school bus shuttle back to the Gustavus ferry dock, and boarded a ferry back to Juneau.
We had dinner on the boat and an ice cream snack.
Brian and Patrick saw sea lion eat a bird and I ate a salmon burger. We all enjoyed the beautiful views.
We arrived in Juneau at 8pm, still hours before sunset.
We got to our hotel and after bathing three filthy boys we got them all settled in bed, grateful that our ferry to Ketchikan, originally scheduled to depart at 615 the next morning had been delayed until noon.