Here is the view from the balcony this morning, as we made our way towards the dock at Icy Strait Point. We were the only cruise ship in town, and it was a tiny town. Just as well there were only 500 extra people.

I woke up and looked at the time. I was looking forward to Ruby arriving with a cup of coffee at 7:30. Only 15 minutes to wait. I snuggled back down to doze.

I woke up half an hour later. When I looked at my iPad time, all sense of faith in the butler system was shattered. It was a quarter to.

I leaped out of bed, threw back the curtains, took this photo and stomped off to the shower. As I was drying my hair, I thought, ‘I’d better check the time one last time…’

Sure enough. I hadn’t paid enough attention to the hour hand. Just as I realised that I’d woken up an HOUR early, Ruby’s gentle knock sounded on our door.

This is a close-up of the dock.

The town is owned and run by the Tlingit people. They’ve lived in the area for around 300 years, after a mini Ice Age forced them to leave their ancestral home in Glacier Bay. Due to colonisation, they weren’t allowed back until 2016.

It’s situated in a glorious bay. The scenery was absolutely beautiful.

I still had $40 left of my $500 ‘bonus’ ship credits, so I took this cooking class to use up the money. I wasn’t too enthused, but I dutifully lined up with 7 other people and we walked to the kitchen.

On the way, we passed these chopped-down trees.

This is the work of beavers.

There were only 7 of us in the class. It reminded me a little of the old Thermomix days, when we used to run cooking classes for customers. It was very ‘hands-off.’ No cooking skills were required, as we watched Mellie take us through making a salmon dip, the she turned it into a salmon bake.

She used canned salmon for this recipe. Canned foods, and other foods which store well such as rice, are very important here. The barge only comes in once every 2 – 3 weeks.

Here’s a small halibut.

Mellie showed us how to fillet this portion.

“There’s a saying that this was the first fish god made, because he put the lines on the skin to show us where to cut for a fillet,” she said.

I took a video of the process, but you’ve all seen Masterchef. Besides, the ship’s wifi gets cranky when I try and upload videos.

We sprinkled various herbs and spices on the halibut and salmon pieces, then headed outside.

This was my first taste of halibut. It was delicious!

The salmon was also lovely – so fresh

Then I had 3 hours free until my Bear tour in the afternoon.

I decided to walk into town. There’s one footpath that goes beside the harbour, so it’s impossible to get lost.

Brown or Grizzly bears are different to the more docile black bears. These ones maul people if they feel threatened.

I set off with a group of people but I soon fell behind when I kept stopping to take photos.

I wondered if I should start to sing loudly, in case a bear was eying me off from the first on the other side of the road, wondering what my insides would look like.

Mellie said that seals and otters can be spotted here, along with whales, so I kept my eyes peeled, but all I saw were birds, particularly Bald Eagles.

Walking, walking. There was a slight drizzle.

This is a pretty ordinary video, but this eagle swooped me on its way down to the water. Of course, my phone was in my pocket at the time.

He skimmed the water, then flew back up to the trees.

On his way out to the sea, he was so low that I could see individual feathers! I couldn’t believe my luck.

A heron! What a graceful silhouette they have.

I kept walking. The other people that I started with had pulled further ahead.

Maybe I was bear bait…

I took this photo because, as I was walking towards this couple, their dog, who was clearly unimpressed with the situation, sat down with an ‘oomph!’

There was a tiny cemetery beside the road, squeezed into a flat space.

We humans tend to ruin good views, don’t we?

This is the sound of water just after I took my life into my hands to cross the road. I have no idea which way to look – I wish Americans would drive on the correct side of the road!

Veggie growers of the world unite!

Only things that require lots of shade can grow successfully here. Root vegetables, lettuce, spinach etc. I also saw a lot of rhubarb.

The people here have to get everything brought in by barge. Gallons of fresh milk arrive with only 3 days left on the expiry date and it costs $12US/gallon.

That’s $4.74/litre in Aussie dollars. Yikes!

That’s why people here hunt and forage for food. It’s cheaper and fresher. They also use a lot of UHT milk.


They get 8 – 12 feet of snow every winter. I can’t even begin to imagine.

It was gently raining. I saw this optimistic line of washing in front of the house at the back.

More US flags as I walked into town.

Who doesn’t love to see an old dawg asleep on his porch?

I stopped at a gift shop and bought an ornament for my epic Christmas tree. When I said that I used to be a teacher, a man excitedly said, “Hey, we’re hiring!”

I politely declined.

This was pretty.

Once I’d walked the length of the town, I decided I’d take the shuttle bus back to where I’d be taking my bear tour. I stepped out on the porch and saw…

… the black blob on top of the pole equal to the level of the sign. It was a Bald Eagle and she was eating a fish she’d caught!

I could see her tearing at it from between the talons on her feet.

Then, once she’d finished, she flew away.

I wandered around the gift shops at the tourist centre while I waited for the bear Tour to start. I’m looking for a piece of art from Alaska to hang on my wall back home.

The trouble with looking for art is that you don’t know what the right one will be until you set eyes on it. There were a couple of nice prints, but I didn’t walk away with anything.

We were accompanied by two people with large rifles, just in case any of us did something stupid if a bear approached, like scream and run.

Not sure if they’d shoot the tourist or the bear. They’re fond of the bears here.

The bear hunt tour was useless. No bears to be seen at all.

However, our guide was very knowledgable about bush tucker. She was describing how people eat the tips of the Sitka Spruce shoots. She picked one and popped it into her mouth, so I did too.

It was tart, almost like orange zest. It separated into little slivers as I chewed. I realised I should’ve removed the chewing gum from my mouth before impulsively eating this, as the two became inextricably entwined.



There were 3 viewing platforms, and when we saw a couple of deer comfortably grazing on the third one, I had the feeling that if they were here, then a bear certainly wasn’t!

There are 4,000 bears on this island, outnumbering the permanent residents by over 4:1.

So they say.

An eagle’s nest on the way back into town.

Huge, isn’t it?

Dad joke of the day: