Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Taking a day off in paradise

Yesterday we anchored in the north arm of Sandy Cove on the east side of Glacier Bay.  We’re here!  Today we’re just taking a day off to enjoy our local scenery.  Not that we can see much of it on a rainy low overcast day.


As we were leaving Hoonah yesterday two of those damn floating hotels went lumbering by the channel, obviously headed towards Glacier Bay as well.  We didn’t see much of them over the course of the day but we did hear them occasionally on the VHF radio.  Apparently they allow two of the monsters in the bay at any particular time.  I expect the tour operators time their arrival so the inmates can watch the entrance to the bay which would explain both of them arriving at 4:00 in the morning running slow. 

We took the full meal deal at the Parks office.  Because we’re arriving outside of the mandatory permit season we didn’t have to listen to the canned presentation about the park but we figured we had come this far so we were going to get our money’s worth.  As Yosemite Sam used to say “I paid my two bitties to see a wild west show, and ahs a goin’ to see a wild west show …. wabbit!”  The movie wasn’t too awful – I’m not sure it told us much that we didn’t already know but it had the mandatory Indian content. It probably needs to be revised though because it was sorely lacking in global warming content.  One of the posters outside had a big yellow add-on which suggested that the retreating glaciers might be related to climate change. 

That whole climate change / global warming pablum is going to be a tough sell up here though.  When Captain Vancouver visited the area in the late 1700’s the glacier had retreated 5 miles from the mouth of the bay (today it is 65 miles back).  When the explorer John Muir visited the area in 1879 the glacier was already 40 miles up the bay – that’s a tricky retreat to blame on carbon emissions from automobiles that had yet to be invented.  But it gets worse.  Archaeologists have determined that as recently as the late 1600’s there was a Tlingit Indian village where the mouth of the bay presently sits – and there was no bay whatsoever at that time.  The Indians were happily living beside a river in a delta, unaware that their lives were about to be disrupted by climate change.  So in 100 years starting roughly in 1700, the glacier pushed its way south scouring out the bay as it went and then by the end of the century when Captain Vancouver stopped by it had already started to retreat.  I guess that was climate CHANGE alright but not the kind we get harangued about today.

As we approached the mouth of the bay there was a largish vessel approaching us off our port quarter.  They seemed oblivious to the collision regs and eventually cut squarely across our bow and then abruptly turned to go in the same direction we were going.  As they got too close for comfort we were able to read their name “The Wilderness Adventurer”.  I also noted a smaller sign “Un-Cruise Adventures”  I saw their operation while we were in Seattle.  Their gimmick is that you get a cruise adventure without all the trappings of a cruise, whatever that means.  Clearly it doesn’t mean a lower crew to passenger ratio because we heard The Wilderness Adventurer radio in its crew and passenger complement – 27 crew and …… wait for it ……… 21 passengers.  I guess even if you’re roughing it you wouldn’t want to have to wait to get your Carhartts pressed for dinner. 

When we landed at the Parks Service dock in Bartlett Cove The Wilderness Adventurer was already tied up and its 21 passengers were milling around on the dock.  I’ve never seen so many really long lenses on cameras, even in a camera shop.  So it was particularly amusing to note that none of the long haired hippy socialists wearing their obligatory denim and flannel with stringy pony tails hanging halfway to their asses had noticed the two bears clearly visible on the beach about 1/2 a mile to the east of the dock.  Marilyn spotted the first of them as we were coming up to the dock and after we got tied up another one came out of the bush.  Likely none of the adventurers ever would have noticed the bears but I eventually pointed them out to one of the Park Rangers and she in turn told the adventurers where they were.  If we were nicer people we’d have pointed the bears out to them ourselves …. but we’re not.  We were briefly worried that the adventurers were headed to the same little cove where we anchored because they appeared to be following us but we lost them as we wound our way in here and they didn’t continue to follow us in.

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