Alaska From The Sauna

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December 14, 2011 by David Gillaspie

by David Gillaspie

Looking For Dinner

Any location that attracts cruise ships must have something to see.

People cruise the west coast to Mexico and party down.

They cruise the Caribbean out of Florida and have a big time.

Those are sun cruises full of fruity drinks with umbrellas toppers according to most brochures. They sound like fun.

In spite of the drug cartels littering Mexican streets with their rivals’ bodies, you don’t hear much about open sea pirates like you do off Somalia.

They’ve had their share of rough water.

You don’t hear much about pirates off Egyptian waters either. Though the Mediterranean seems like prime pickings, it’s had setbacks too. 

The best chances for a great cruise minus the pirates sounds like an Alaskan cruise. Imagine viewing the mountains and glaciers close-up.

A recent visitor to DG’s B&B sauna agreed, but had a few warning. He lived in Alaska and seemed to speak with the voice of experience.

“Cruising the Inside Passage is what most people look forward to. The experienced adventurers like to do more. They like to get off the boat and feel the real Alaska under their feet.

“Most of the time it works out, but Alaska is a wild place. It has more bears than a Jellystone cartoon. Sometimes they are the biggest problem.

“If you go with a guide, it ought to work out like a dream. That’s if it’s the right guide. Avoid the ‘bear friendly’ media group.

“A good guide understands the usefulness of a large hand gun to back up pepper spray. They know when to use both. A charging bear has to get close enough for the pepper spray to work. This isn’t Lt. John Pike hosing down students at UC Davis.

“If the pepper spray doesn’t change a bear’s charge, the guide needs time to pull his gun and buzz the bear, then drop it before it kills you both. Some of them are big and fast and you won’t stand a chance.

“The standard advice from seasoned bear safety people is run downhill from the bear and made a quick cut just before it springs on you. The common knowledge is a bear will roll when it tries to make the same change of direction you make.

“The wrong guide to follow is one who shows a can of wasp spray. This stuff can blind a bear, but since it shoots further than pepper spray some people feel safer with it.

“If a guide shows you a homemade mix of olive oil and bacon fat, ask about it. If he says it’s for your protection, he’s lying. During a bear charge he’ll spritz you with his bacon grease olive oil mix. It’s a variation on ‘I don’t have to out run the bear, I have to out run you.’ Another clue is his insisting you wear heavy boots while he wears running shoes.

Television stars, not you

“Another guide to be wary of is the fishing expert who insists you rub bait on your clothes and wear a salmon-skin vest to ‘be one’ with the fish. If you’re walking with the fishing gear and he’s carrying a rifle and a hunting license toward a section of the river where bears are pulling salmon, you are his chum, not his client, his pal, or his buddy. You are his bait.”

The man from Alaska knew his bears, but he’d never been on a cruise. If he was ever taken hostage, you’d feel sorry for the pirates.


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