Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cruising to Juneau

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Leaving Seattle, the waves were a little rough (up to 20 feet!) so the next morning the captain decided to take a more inside passage.

The difference was night and day! I don't usually get seasick, but I was seriously bemoaning the absence of Coke on the ship. They only had Pepsi! Being from Atlanta and literally living within spitting distance of headquarters, Coke runs in my veins, and Pepsi tastes like...well, let's just say the hubby does a spit-take if he ever participates in a taste test. I had a Mug root beer, but it didn't have the same medicinal value as a good ol' Coke. But the next day, no home remedies were necessary to enjoy the smooth-as-silk ride.

The passage was very narrow at some points. We would periodically scan the shoreline for animals, but had no luck.

We did see many waterfalls. Since we were right in snow melt time, there were more and bigger waterfalls than "normal".

In the afternoon, we reached Juneau. We were in port from 2pm - 10pm. We had originally just thought we'd go out to Mendenhall Glacier, but since the day was so beautifully clear, we decided to also take the sky lift up to the top of the surrounding mountains (hills?).

When we got to the top, there were binoculars provided so you could scan the surrounding mountains for goats...we could see the little off-white specks all over once we knew what we were looking for. We also got to meet this elegant lady:
This is Lady Baltimore, who was rescued and cannot be released into the wild because of injuries.

Then we got to hike a nice short trail in and out of some fabulous trees. Look how the snow has caused them to bend!

This would be the "out" part of the hike. =) Can you believe the beautiful day we had??!?

I have no idea what these plants are, but I thought their shapes were so cool. They were all over the place in various stages of growth.

Snow! You can see from the short sleeves that it was a lovely temperature even though there was snow on the ground.
Scratch that. It could be 50F and Michael would still rock the short sleeves. Let's say you can tell it was warm because I was was not wearing a coat in the picture up there!

This is the peak where we were scanning for goats, only from farther away. It's amazing the beautiful shapes that water can create.

Another gorgeous view.

I kept hoping we'd see some critters, but we only got to hear a squirrel scold and see a brief flash of tail as she scurried through the underbrush.

And now you'll have to indulge me for a few pictures...because I do love me some old growth forests. I LOVE the shapes the twisted old trees make.
I did NOT turn the camera on its side!

Fantastic moss everywhere. We just don't get that in the South!

When we got back down, we were dismayed to learn that the glacier park was only open until 6! We should have done our homework better, but when it's light until 10 or 11, you hardly think that the park service is going to close the outdoors at 6! A short bus ride and some speedwalking later, we were at the glacier.
Notice it was a little colder here with the wind blowing off all that ice! I eventually ended up with my hat and gloves on.

It looks so "small", doesn't it? Let me help you with scale. See the waterfall at the very right-hand edge of the picture above? Here's a closer shot.
Now, I'll wait while you click on it to make it bigger and look at the tiny people!

Yeah. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to hike out to the falls (it looks close but you have to go back in the trees to get around the water). No worries; something for next time! We were very lucky in that we got to see a bald eagle fly toward that sand bar you can see there. Well, lots of Arctic Terns were nesting there, and they all rose up and ganged up to chase the eagle away! We were able to see the nesting terns through the binoculars, but they were too far away to photograph. I thought you'd rather not see more teensy blobs. =)

Here's another shot without me blocking all the lovely ice!

We did not get to see the glacier calve while we were there, but it's clear things were breaking off in fairly large chunks!

Our luxury coach to the glacier. =)

We had some great views even from the bus. This is the tip of the ice fields (in between the peaks).

The bus driver was nice enough to drop us in town (a 10-minute walk from our pickup point) so we could see the sights. What a nice backdrop, eh?

Finally it was time to head to the restaurant where we'd made reservations earlier before riding the sky lift. See that first square window right by where the girl in white is standing? That was where our table was! There are definite benefits to making a reservation, as we got to look out the windows at the mountains across the water.
You know, when we weren't gazing into each other's eyes dreamily. It was our anniversary, after all. ;)

NOM salmon!! Yes, more salmon! But it had been, like, AN ENTIRE DAY since I'd had any!

We ended up with enough time to go back up the sky lift one more time, so we took advantage of our all-day pass.
What a gorgeous day!

Juneau, a beautiful relaxing hike, great old growth trees, a glacier and our first bald eagle sightings! Stay tuned...


Dani - tkdchick said...

Spectacular vistas!!!

Jackie's Stitches said...

Pretty doesn't seem like enough of a word! The twisted tree below the picture of Michael on the trail in the hat? Looks like a deer with Antlers.

Shocked you went a day without salmon!

Erin (moviemuse) said...

Good heavens, those are itty-bitty people near the glacier! What amazing weather you had.

sara said...

Oh how pretty! Hubadub and I have been telling each other for years we have to take this trip.

Novelty Pens said...

Your pictures are beautiful! The views are so majestic! What a fabulous vacation!

Susan @ Real Girl Designs said...

I'm with you on the coke (well, Diet Coke actually). I avoid certain restaurant chains because they don't serve coke products.

Great pictures!

Happy belated anniversary.

Old Geek-outs