Alaskan Cruise – Glacier Bay and Haines

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As we entered Glacier National Park on the Westerdam it was grey, cloudy, foggy and windy with a bit of rain. Oh sure we thought, won’t see much today. As we journeyed north to John Hopkins glacier, some 50+ miles, gradually it cleared!! Suddenly we could see the peak of Mt Fairweather (15300ft) in clear blue sky. Chunks of ice floated by. We saw a humpback whale surface for a breath. Moreover, because it was now September, our cruise ship was permitted ‎to cruise right up into the Johns Hopkins inlet as the seal mating was over for the season.

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Mt Fairweather

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Calving of the Johns Hopkins Glacier

On the larger pieces of ice we saw numerous seals floating by.  Some startled by our ship, slid off into the torquisey water.  Wow! We saw 2 or 3 big “calves” of ice fall from off Johns Hopkins into the sea.‎ Dave cought the splash of one in a distant photo. We could hear and see the roar of a waterfall pouring into the bay. Thousands of seagulls were flying around the base of the tidewater glacier, awaiting their lunch. We learned that when the ice tumbles it stirs up food for the gulls as the water churns up fish from deep down.  We were served hot pea soup on the promenade deck, a warm touch we thought.

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Johns Hopkins Glacier

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Johns Hopkins Inlet

After an hour the motionless ship rotated and we sat on our aft balcony in strong sunlight that felt almost as hot as Mexico.  Another HAL shipped passed us going into Hopkins.  This was surely one of the most awesome cruise experiences we have ever had.‎ It does not get better than this. We headed further north. We turned to look at the 250 ft high Margerie tidal glacier not before we looked towards the north to see the Grand Pacific Glacier grinding in from BC now just a few km away.

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The spectacular Margerie tidal glacier

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The Grand Pacific Glacier grinds in from Canada

Finished the afternoon with a soak in the hot tub and swim in the pool in the warm sunshine. Played some cards and then off to bed after a so-so meal in the Lido. Next day we awoke in Haines to low lying cloud. Our friends Mike and Sharron had not been feeling well. We were hopeful they would be better today.

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With the Correaus in Haines

Mike was better while Sharron remained under the weather. We walked around the small town surrounded by the sea and mountains. We found the library for some free wifi. After, Dave toured Fort William H. Seward. Haines (pop 4000) was founded in 1881 by the Presbyterian Church at the invitation of the Tlingit Indians. The fort was built starting in 1909 in response to prolonged border tensions with Canada. In its hey day, over 200 men and officers were stationed here, a hardship posting for sure. However many of these men adapted to Alaskan conditions and ended up settling here.

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Remains of a Company barracks building that burned in 1981.

The original hospital of the fort is now Alaska Indian Arts Centre.

Totem pole restoration workshop.

The parade grounds and officers row.

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In the PM we went on a short excursion to Chilcoot Lake and river in search of brown bears eating salmon. Alas we only saw a few eagles, a few salmon jumping, some dead salmon and many mercanser diving ducks. There is a wire weir across the river with only a narrow opening in the middle. A man sits there and counts the number of salmon passing thru the opening. Strange we thought as he goes for frequent breaks.  Returning to the ship we enjoyed happy hour and a fine dinner with Mike, Mary and Dave.

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