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Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls in Juneau, Alaska

I never thought I’d be so close to a real bear. Yeah, only about 12 feet away! That was my bonus feature from visiting the Mendenhall Glacier while in Juneau, Alaska.

It was an unusually warm and sunny day in Juneau. Who would have known? Those who have experienced a 7-day Alaska cruise warned that I should prepare for cold and wet weather. Heeding their advice, I was garbed in a sweatshirt, thick socks, and waterproof boots. I stashed my beanie, gloves, and rain jacket in my backpack— you know, just in case.

Tanya and Cory, our close family friends, joined Alan and me on this Celebrity Solstice cruise and I elected myself to take charge of the shore excursions. After disembarking at port in Juneau, I led the group to the nearest taxi. Well, it was the only taxi. Manned by a driver named OJ from Jamaica.

We asked OJ how much the cab fare would be to our desired destination. What transpired was a hilarious exchange. With retorts like, “Mama, listen to me!” or “I’m from The Bahamas and I know your game,” I wouldn’t really call it a heated argument.

Finally, OJ convinced us that his rate was standard and fair. And no one was harmed. Off we went to Mendenhall Glacier.

Not only was it hot (remember my outfit?), it was crowded. We decided to forego the Visitor Center and hiked straight to Nugget Falls. The panoramic views were breathtaking! We took lots of photos, including creative pics for giggles.

The two-way narrow trail leading to the famous waterfall was actually an easy walking path. What made it oppressive were the groups of people who slowed down our pace. (By the way, kudos to those handicapped visitors who didn’t let sitting in a wheelchair stop them from exploring this renowned attraction.)

On our return hike, a gang of fellow tourists congregated in one spot, blocking our way. Umm…excuse me but do you mind? They were looking through the nearby bushes and we overheard someone say, “Bear.” Whatever. Please keep walking.

Just then, I heard some rustling and eventually caught sight of two cubs frolicking in the shrubs. Anyone knows that where there are cubs, Mama Bear is not far away! Sure enough, she came wandering right behind them. It was an American Black Bear (but a brown-colored one.)

Without stopping, my hubby gestured as he passed a clearing and jokingly said, “Here’s a great spot for a selfie.” Are you crazy??? But I pointed my camera phone in that direction. Soon, Mama Bear walked right into the frame. She looked right at me. Yup, I was face to face with her full snout and all. Of course, we kept walking. Hearts pounding.

When we reached the bottom of the Visitor Center, we quickly informed the park ranger about our bear sighting. It was only then that I played back the video from my phone. I must have been really scared because all I had was a clip of what happened AFTER Mama Bear looked at me: when I put my phone away, accidentally capturing a video of my feet.

bears in the woods
Nope, this is not the photo. We spotted these bears while on a tour bus heading out of Carcross (in Yukon).


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