(Excerpt from my Alaska journal)
June 10th through June 15th
(I am going to combine the days on the cruise ship and point out the highlights)
We cruised into Glacier Bay National Park and got a close up look at the glaciers. They glow a kind of eerie blue. Even the icebergs that break off are blue. We saw a dozen or more icebergs break off. It’s called calving. Seals were laying on some of the icebergs, and every now and then a sea otter would swim by. On shore we saw a bear running in the distance. We stopped at Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. At Juneau we saw the Alaska State Museum. It is a great place to spend a couple of hours. Skagway and Ketchikan are set up for tourists–mainly shops selling jewelry and souvenirs. Vickie loved it. It’s not my thing. There was a cruise ship crud running through the ship, and I caught it. It was like a bad cold, congestion, cough. I felt tired a lot and had to lay down for an hour or two every afternoon. The ship itself was your normal cruise ship—a lot of food and shows…dancers, singers, comedians, ventriloquists. Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod, gave a great presentation. She made two decisions that led to her winning. She had a hard and fast rule that the dogs never made the decisions. If you let them, they began to think they were the boss. She was going to turn into a check point and spend the night. Her lead dog turned toward the checkpoint before she told him too. She brought the team back out onto the trail and continued on through the night. That put her in the lead. When she left the last checkpoint before the finish, a blizzard came up. In past years teams had turned around and headed back to the shelter of the check point. Instead Libby spent the night curled up in her sleeping bag on her sled in a blizzard in -50 degree temperatures. When she got going, she won the race miles ahead of everyone else. I’ve often thought that there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity, and often the results determine what side of the line the definition comes down on. But I think Libby Riddles is one tough woman, and I have nothing but respect for her.
We made it home without incident and Vickie didn’t break either of the planes we flew on. Tomorrow I will give you my final thoughts on Alaska.
Joel Jurrens author of In The Sticks