When we got back to the cabin, Carol, Kris and Andrew had a game night, playing Yahtzee and Scrabble. I went up and asked Jim if his invitation to join him in the evening was still open.
We sat and talked aviation for several hours. I just realized that in my bio of Jim's life in my last post I forgot to mention that he flew single engine charters on floats, wheels and skis. Cubs, Maules, Beavers, and the biggest, by far, the Noorduyn Norseman, a 7,500 lb. monster. He logged 13,000 accident free hours. In 30 years I logged just over 3,500. I wish I could have just spent a few days hearing his stories.
Before I said, "Good night" he said, "You did get Beatrice's message about breakfast, didn't you? I hope you like sourdough pancakes."
After a wonderful night's sleep which was not interrupted by bears, we packed up and went to their cabin for a delicious breakfast.
Then it was off to the Glacier. I'd been meticulous about scheduling all our activities because everything I'd read said that the popular tours booked up way in advance. Only one of the three tour companies welcomed Finn, so we signed up with Matanuska Glacier Park who are the owners of the only land with access to the glacier. I checked my emails the night before to confirm that I had booked the 4:30 tour. There was no email. Oops.
We arrived at the office just after a busload of unruly teenagers. They completed filled the office/store. Although the owners had set up a separate area for their registrations, they made it impossible to even get to the regular check-in counter. When I finally pushed my way through, the young lady told me I would have to wait and talk to the lady registering the teens. I joined my gang back at the truck and waited until the group headed out to the glacier.
When I went back in to see the lady, who it turns out was an owner, she looked like she needed a break. She tried to smile and said, "Can I help you." I said, "I hope so. But first, take a deep breath and relax. I've spent my entire life in retail, starting at 2 1/2 when my parents bought a country general store. I understand what you just went through with those kids. Just take another deep breath and relax. I booked a tour for today but I screwed up and didn't call you back to schedule a time. And I've spent years telling people, 'Bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. So I know there is no emergency."
She said, "Thank you for your understanding. I needed that. What can I do for you?"
"We are a group of four plus a service dog who would like to take a guided tour today. Any time will work. After this we head back to Anchorage." By this time it was about 1 o'clock. She said, "I can put you in our 1:30 group. It currently has 8 and we take up to 12." That was a bigger group than we had hoped for, but the other tours were booked up so it seemed it was the best possible arrangement.
Maybe, but things got worse first. We drove to the starting point and met our guide who STRONGLY suggested we not take Finn. "I'm a dog owner and I'd NEVER take my dog onto the glacier." After much discussion, Kris went to the truck to make him comfortable for his 2 1/2 hour confinement. While we checked out the other 8 people on our tour. Sparing you details, I'll just say that it was obvious to us that we would not have picked them as our tour companions.
Then another young lady, Erika came up to us and said, "Are you the Cook party?"
Oh, no. What now?
"Another group of 4 just called and signed up for the 1:30 tour so we've split things. If you don't mind waiting a few minutes for them to arrive, you and they will go with me. And I heard what Amanda said about dogs. I have no idea what her problem is. We take dogs all the time. All sizes and kinds. Yours will be fine."
15 minutes later, "The other group of four just called and they're running late so I'll just be taking the four of you."
I confirmed when we returned from our private tour that the owner that I'd been nice to when I checked in,
1. decided that we would be the 4 split off from the bigger group and,
2. then decided that she would not put us back with the group of 8 when the others were late but would let us have our own guide for a private tour.
Tinkerbell Jerusalem comes through again.
So on to the Glacier with Erika.
There it is, 1/2 mile or so away.
15-20 minute hike over the moraine.
Erika shows us that we are walking on several hundred feet of ice covered by a thin layer of glacial silt.
Easy to see the layers in a small crevasse. Also a good look at the footwear fashion of the day, slip on crampons. The "access pass" people, on their own, do not get crampons. More about them later.
Even more obvious in a larger crevasse.
Onto the glacier.
Finn isn't really sure this was a good idea. He didn't get crampons.
Flowing water does really weird and beautiful things to the ice.
A big shelf under a bigger shelf.
Crevasses getting bigger.
It seems to go on forever.
Here are a couple of pictures with people to give an idea of the enormity.
YES, there ARE people in those last two pictures. Click to enlarge them.
Collecting glacier water.
Headed back. Stay out of the crevasses.
No. Really. Stay out of the crevasses.
Geezer break. As Carol reminds me, "You have to remember. You're not 70 anymore."
Back across the moraine.
Erika, our wonderful guide.
The guided tour takes guests much further and higher than the access pass people are supposed to go. Not surprisingly, the access pass people do not stay "within the cones" even though they signed a four page release saying that they would and detailing likely death or dismemberment if they didn't.
We saw people WAY past where they were supposed to be, including a lady in open toe sandals. When I mentioned this to the husband-owner he laughed and said, "She was relatively well equipped. We see them in flip flops all the time but the standard for stupidity is still the lady last year in high heels."
Safely back in Anchorage, looking back -
What an incredible day with Beatrice and Jim. Totally unexpected. And awesome.
Then, I screw up reservations and we get a private tour - with Finn.
For the umpteenth time - Thank You Lord. Nothing as we planned and all better than planned.
If you are looking for Faith, Show Up and Pay Attention. You will see the in-betweens. Simple really.