Alaska Adventure Continues...Juneau

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Haines, we took the MV Marispina to Juneau, where we were able to take a taxi into downtown. Juneau (the capital of AK) sits at the foot of mountains and is only accessible by boat or airplane. It is a favorite port for cruise ships - there were five ships in port when we arrived. The downtown area by the water has been completely taken over by shops geared to cruise passengers. In fact, the hotel we stayed in, the Westmark Baranoff, is owned by Holland America cruise company.

The next day, we boarded the "Captain Cook," an Adventure Bound boat that took us on an all-day excursion to the Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier. Once we were in the fjord, we started to see icebergs in the surrounding waters - brilliant blue and in wonderfully curved and pointed shapes - mother nature's ice sculptures. As we got closer to Sawyer Glacier, more ice appeared - we were amazed at our captain's ability to smoothly maneuver through these waters. Sawyer Glacier is at the end of the fjord and rises vertically out of the water. Like the ice, it is a brilliant blue and impressive in its size. Due to the verticality of the glacier, we witnessed a lot of "calving" where huge chunks of ice fall off the glacier into the water. The ice that calves off become the ice bergs that we saw floating around us. Words cannot adequately describe what an awe-inspiring sight the glacier was. Not even the photos attached can do it justice. If that weren't enough, on the way back the captain took some detours to get close to waterfalls in the surrounding canyon and to see humpback whales. This excursion was the highlight of our Alaskan adventure.

The next day, we rented a car to see more of the Juneau area outside of downtown. We went to another beautifully blue glacier - Mendenhall Glacier -- very close to town. Near the glacier is Steep Creek where we saw salmon spawning. Next, we drove down the length of the road leading out of Juneau that runs parallel to the shore. Then we traveled back to town and went through the part of the city that houses state government, including the capitol and governor's mansion (minus Sara Palin who left town for good!). From there we decided to go to the town of Douglas across the harbor to have a late lunch at a waterfront restaurant there. After eating some of the best pizza we've ever had, we headed back to the ferry dock in Juneau to turn in our rental car and board the MV Taku for our two-day journey back to Prince Rupert. Our last leg brought us the best whale watching of the trip - dozens of humpback whales cavorting in the water - breaching, flipping their flukes (tails) and slapping their flippers on the water.

We learned a lot on this trip about the logistics of ferry travel (not easy if you don't have your car with you) but wouldn't hesitate to do it again to take the opportunity to see the ports we missed.
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