Saturday, August 17, 2013
usbackroads destination--Juneau, Alaska
The cruise ship heads north from Seattle and out in to the Pacific Ocean for the run to Juneau. It takes a day and night to arrive in Juneau. Juneau is sort of a usbackroads destination. A friend that lived there said there was a total of 42 miles of road. Seemed like a bit more than that for me, but I would rather have a boat than a car in Juneau. Rain. Lots of it in Juneau. But it did stop raining once we arrived in town.
The trick with cruise ships is picking the right shore excursion. In this case, it was a easy. Both Susie and Alex were into whale watching and with the food on the cruise ship we decided that a hike would also probably be a good idea. So it was whale watching in the morning and hiking to the local glacier in the afternoon.
This was our whale watching boat. Not sure why Alex is wearing sunglasses, but the guide is wearing the fashion footwear for south-east Alaska. Yep, everybody except the tourists were in knee high rubber boots that I suspect were insulated. The guide trip was through Gastineau Guiding (Gastineau Guiding). We were pleased with the tour and guide. The boat was small with only 14 or so tourists and one guide. The guide graduated from the University of Montana Forestry School, but somehow managed to avoid taking Silviculture!! Kids!!
The first stop was to visit these guys. So yeah, we change habitat on land as well on water. They really did appreciate the platform. While we circled around the buoy these guys took turns pushing the other sea lions off the platform. I guess it was musical chairs without the music.
But the attraction was the whales and we did get to see those. Here is a picture of a whale and one of the other larger whale watching boats.
In Montana, there a country band called "Ghost Riders in the Sky". Not sure if they are still around since it has been thirty or more years since I heard them in a Montana bar. I suspect in Alaska there is probably a band called "Ghost Halibut in the Passage". This picture shows the remains of Halibut laying in the bottom of the harbor next to our excursion boat. In Alaska, this is what they mean by recycling. Notice how clear the water is at 30 feet.
After the whale watching we took the trail to Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier and visitor center are on the 17 million acre Tongass National Forest. A place that I was fortunate to avoid in my career. Rain, is not my cup of tea. Give me sage and aspen with a few Ponderosa Pines for good measure.
We did get to see the flower Monk's Hood. It does look a little different at our place at Camas Meadows.
However, the wildflowers took second place to the bears, porcupines and fish we saw on the hike.
Oh wait, the point of the hike was Mendelhall Glacier. Which you can drive on one of the 42 miles of road. However, the hike over the glacier moraine was worth the exercise and does give you a perspective that a vehicle never does.
It was a great shore excursion in Juneau. With a promise of clearing skies the ship sailed for Skagway through the night for a six am arrival.
Posted by Vladimir Steblina at 5:23 PM