Today, the kids and I went with my parents to Portage Glacier. It's about a 50 minute drive from the house, but when you get there, it feels like a whole different world. It's amazing how much the weather can change in what is really, a fairly short distance. When we left Anchorage the temperature was mild and it was mildly overcast. When we arrived in Portage it was rainy, extremely windy, and downright cold (as you can probably tell by looking at our picture).
In order to view the actual glacier you have to pay to take a ferry ride out to it. For all of us, this was our first glacier experience and the trip was well worth it. There was a guide from the National Forest Service onboard who was very enjoyable and shared a lot of knowledge about glaciers in general, as well as the Portage Glacier specifically. It was money well spent, plus, my parents enjoy contributing to the local economy when they're on vacation.
My mom thought we may have picked a cruddy day to view the glacier, but we were told by the ranger that cruddy days are pretty much the norm in Portage. We discovered that glaciers actually have a way of creating their own weather. The cool thing about viewing the glacier when it's overcast is that the ice looks amazingly blue. We learned that the blue color is due to the refraction of light. When it is sunny outside, the ice doesn't have the same blue hue.
I guess we picked a pretty great day for a little Alaska adventure after all.