Zaandam called at Sitka, Alaska yesterday.
This year is an anomaly economically and weather-wise. It is July in Alaska and the weather we had in May was both brighter and warmer. I am guessing mid to high 50’s today with gray skies and drizzle. The touring goes on regardless of weather and we are in the Tongass National Rainforest, the name giving you a HINT that perhaps it rains a fair amount up here.
I dress for the occasion with several layers, my ski hat and gore-tex rain hat that I have come to love. Alaska Travel Adventures provides the high-waisted rubber waders and rain jackets so all is well.
We take a huge zodiac that looks like two banana boats strung together out to the kayak center where we meet the guides and climb into the kayaks. Our guide is Zack who leads us out around the bend into bay area where we can explore the shoreside.
Michael is my driver, the one in control of the rudder in the back, and he thinks this is a race. I, on the other hand, like kayaking because it is so peaceful. He likes to be out in front of everyone and I prefer to hang toward the back and be able to hear the guide. We should have single kayaks but I do like the extra pair of arms paddling. He would prefer to be out in the open sea fighting seven- to 10-foot seas. Me, I like the calm of the bays and inlets checking out the wildlife. Same sport … two different angles.
The young bear is the highlight of the trip. He is on the shoreline by the water searching for lunch. He is about three years old, according to Zack, and mom has left him on his own. Wish our kids could mature that fast.
He pads along turning over large rocks looking for anything edible. We follow him down the beach, not getting too close to shore, because he is a very good swimmer. He just doesn’t realize that all those brightly colored things in the water qualify as a meal, thank goodness. He finally finds a blueberry bush where he digs in and consumes the entire bush before heading inland.
In May I did not spot one bear, this time I have two in one week. The first one was in Glacier Bay the other day but so far away I could just spot him with a guest’s binoculars. Still no whales on my list, but I will rectify that in Juneau next week by taking a whale-watching boat.
Joanne and Michael Gardner are future cruise consultants aboard Zaandam.