When preparing for one of the top ten adventures of your life, don’t forget to pack tampons.
A lifelong dream of mine has been to walk on a glacier. I always imagined this would be something I would do in Antarctica since, unlike Starbucks, you can’t find glaciers on almost every street corner in hundreds of countries. But as soon as we booked the family trip to Alaska, I knew this was something I HAD to do. No, ifs, ands, or buts about it. I started doing my research and was surprised to learn that with most of the glacier tours, you land on it by a helicopter and have 15-30 minutes on the glacier before you leave. This wasn’t what I wanted at all. More activity (like walking & climbing) and quality time is what I wanted! Persistence paid off! Finally, I found one tour that offered what I was looking for and for the bargain price of $150. I didn’t hesitate.
Unfortunately, the night before the excursion, Princess Tours informed me it was canceled because they had an unusually long winter and the snow on this particular glacier hadn’t melted. They tried to convince me to take one of the afore mentioned 15 minute helicopter tours, but I wanted none of it. When they realized I was not going to pay $500+ for such a short time on the glacier, they reluctantly told me about one other option: Princess and just started a partnership with another tour company, St. Elias. Only one problem: they had never worked with this company before and therefore couldn’t recommend it or give me any details.
Me being me (for those of you who know me, this should come as no surprise), I wanted to speak with St. Elias directly. They gave me the details of the tour and while I wouldn’t be able to climb up the glacier due to time constraints, it had everything else I wanted. So I went over the what-I-need-to-pack list, which included basically the same list as the original tour (which was good, since I was already in the middle of Alaska and about a 6 hour drive from a Wal-Mart.) There were only two differences: (1) The originally tour told me to wear tennis shoes, where-as St. Elias said sturdy tennis shoes or hiking boots, (2) The last item they told me to bring had me confused. I swear I heard the St. Elias representative say, “Oh, and if you have any tampons, bring them too.” This made no sense to me at all. But as the person on the other end of the phone was male, I didn’t want to go there. So, I ignored it.
Even though St. Elias only charges $75 for the half day tour I signed up for, I paid Princess $550. To be fair, that included the plane ride back and forth to Kennecott, where spring arrived on time leaving their glacier snow-free. (Princess did take care of arranging the details of the flight as they already had a working relationship with that company.) Plus I also needed Princess to drive me an hour each way from their hotel to the airport. But whatever, I’m sure Princess intentionally builds most of their hotels away from the cities and other tour operators, leaving me no other options for the van ride or the ability to book with the flight company directly. It’s a good business strategy. Or perhaps, I’m being too cynical and they chose to build their hotels where the best views were because all of their hotels were surround by breath-taking views. Either way, after spending 2 hours figuring this all out, I was ready for dinner and bed.
My next post will be part 2 of the glacier adventure.