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Early Morning on the Island Spirit


It’s morning –about 5:30– and I’m one of a few passengers and crew who are up.  We’re moored on Sanford Cove off Endicott Arm, several hours of cruise time outside Juneau, Alaska.  The sky is cloudless, the water is still.  We’re surrounded by mountains.  Literally.  In every direction you look there are mountains, most of them either in snow or topped in snow.  At one far end of the lake, 7-8 miles I’d guess, you can see the entrance to this cove.

If you are a morning person you live for this.  There isn’t much talking going on, what little there is is quiet.  Everyone here has there own agenda right now–to view the landscape, maybe to shoot some early morning photography, maybe to have a cup of coffee on some part of this vessel where nobody else is hanging out.  This is personal time and everyone respects that.

Yesterday, this trip took an invigorating turn when the sun forced its way onto the scene.  While you cannot come to southeast Alaska and reasonably bring expectations for bright, clear skies with you, you can always hope.  We’ve enjoyed an incredible trip thus far, sans sun, but the addition of sunlight on these mountains and waters draws the very best from them.  From windy gray, we’ve entered into dazzling blues and whites.  In that respect, we’re lucky, that’s all.  Alaska is bigger than anyone’s best expectations.   You get what it gives you.

Late yesterday afternoon, after leaving the bustle of Juneau, we cruised into an evening beyond description.  Small chunks of blue ice began to appear, torn from some distant glacier.  An occasional seaplane broke the silence overhead.  As we came into this cove for the night, we stopped to watch a few humpbacks, but left them for a grizzly bear on the distant shore.  It was this group’s first bear sighting and binoculars were passed from one to another to watch this huge animal forage in a glen just off the water.  Only later, thanks to one member’s telephoto camera lens and several shots, did we realize this bear was a female with two cubs in tow.

The last thing I noticed as the sun set was a huge cruise ship motoring along several miles away, in the main channel.  This is why you take a small ship cruise like the one we’re on.  The Island Spirit is putting this small group of travelers into some very exclusive space.


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Mac Lacy

Mac Lacy is president and publisher of The Group Travel Leader Inc. Mac has been traveling and writing professionally ever since a two-month backpacking trip through Europe upon his graduation with a journalism degree from the University of Evansville in 1978.