Alaska – Sept 1 – Icy Strait Point

Hard to believe we started this adventure one week ago with the shuttle to Atlanta. Time flies when you are having fun.

In Juneau, we had 13 hours in port. For ISP, we had 5 and ½ and it was 7:00 to 1:30. ISP is a new port for us so I was not thrilled with the time. The village that the port supports is called Hoonah and is populated by only 1000 people, mostly Tlingit Indians. There are only two villages on this island called Chichagof Island.

Hoonah’s main industry was the salmon cannery until it closed in 1953. Cruise ships started coming in 2004. It is home to the world’s longest zipline (5330 feet long with a 1300 foot vertical drop reaching 60 miles per hour in speed). And the Indians share the Island with 4000 coastal brown bears.

We had breakfast the other day with 2 ladies who said they were signed up to go ziplining. One was 80 and the other 82. Wonder if they did it. One lady was worried that her hearing aids would fly off. They had already been warned to take off their glasses before zipping. You go girls!

We were going to go find some of those 4000 bears today. I signed us up with Hoonah Adventure Tours for their 8:30 to 11:30 Wilderness Adventure and Brown Bear Search tour. I was pretty excited about this tour.

We had room service breakfast brought at 7:00 as we were docking. By 8:00, we had walked off the ship and followed the directions to meet the tour group. There were 8 of us from the ship. We left promptly at 8:30.

Similar to whale watching, there appears to be some popular spots (streams) for bear activity and all the tour guides know where these stops are and are in contact with each other to help out the tourists. Otherwise you could drive around for hours and never see anything except trees and bushes. Very dense forests.

We stopped at 4 different spots and ended up seeing about 5 bears. The last stop being the most productive because they were out in the stream so we could get good pictures. The other bears preferred to hide in the shrubbery along the banks. I did get one really good video of a bear ripping up a salmon. Also got a couple of eagle photos.

The driver / tour guide told us a lot about this family as they are Tlingit and he is actually an elder in their clan. Interesting stuff – his mom could speak Tlingit, Russian, and English and taught school so she helped translate a lot of historical documents. He is the 12th of 14 children.

He went over his tour time helping us find bears so we didn’t get back to the ship until almost 1:00. There was not enough time to walk the nature trail that was close to the port. I would have liked to have done it too. But it was a good day, the rain held off, and it was around 55 degrees so I was comfortable with my jacket.

We set sail at 2:00. We ate a light lunch at the Lido buffet. Chuck wanted to play cards since he didn’t get to play at all yesterday. I found a nice spot to work on my travel journal. As I was writing and watching out the window, I spotted several sea otters and some seals. I was glad I had my binoculars.

Eventually I made my way back to the room and got cleaned up for the dinner hour. Chuck came in an hour later and I was pleased to see that he had won some money. We had a couple of drinks at the Oceans Bar, and listened to the Ocean’s Trio play some easy listening songs. During that time, we spotted a pod of orcas that appeared to be swimming together to catch some fish. Normally, they hunt alone. Not too long after that, we saw some dolphins. Chuck spotted what looked like a glacier but I was convinced it was just clouds playing a trick. Turned out it was the largest glacier in Alaska so Chuck was right. A really great day for nature.

Only low point was having to use the outhouse at the end of one of the trails during the tour. The women had to stand in line and then hold your breath while inside the one-hole facility. I was wishing the whole time I had not had that 2nd cup of coffee. The men just did what the bears do behind the building and the trees.

Got another bag of laundry ready to be picked up. Will have to check tomorrow to see if the charges are straightened out.

Had a nice table for dinner. One couple from England and a couple from Washington. We laughed quite a bit. We did manage to push ourselves away from the table before dessert. I have to say this was the fastest service we have experienced. We were done by 60 minutes.

After dinner, Chuck wanted to play cards and I wanted to do more writing. I got him for the 10:00 comedian show – Jeff Burghart. He did some cute jokes and good impressions. We didn’t stay for the crew show.

Tomorrow is a sea day so no alarm to set. Tonight’s towel animal is a turtle.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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