25 Aug 2010
|We were up early and skipped breakfast in order to be at the dock in the small boat harbor by 7:15 AM. We boarded a small boat called the Fjordland. We nearly required every seat. There were only two other passengers that were not part of our group. I think that we made them feel at home with us.
We first travelled down the Skagway Channel to Haines where we picked up another couple. Then we travelled down the Lynn Channel to Juneau. Along the way we viewed waterfalls and landmarks from the past. We saw humped back whales, mostly in the distance. I did get one good shot of the tail flukes of a diving whale. We also saw some porpoises in the distance. The weather was pretty good and the water was calm. The clouds were pretty heavy hanging on the mountains.
We arrived in Juneau about 11:00 AM. We docked near the ferry terminal about 5 miles out of town. We were picked up by a tour bus and taken downtown. We soon found that four more cruise ships were docked here. The streets were rather crowded. We headed to the Red Dog Saloon for lunch. The line was fairly long but we were able to join another couple from our group that had just been seated. We all had draft beer and the house hamburger. I thought that the burger could have been a lot better for the price but it was OK. I did buy a tee shirt to commemorate our visit.
After lunch we walked up hill to the Alaska Capital Building. We stopped to look in several souvenir shops along the way. Some places are having end-of-the-season half-price sales and some are still asking full price. We didn’t find anything that we couldn’t do without.
At the Capital we took a walking tour of the building. I was surprised that they wanted us to carry our backpacks. Most public buildings that I have visited have tightened security and either require you to check your bag or else they flat out won’t let you inside with a bag. Here we had free range of almost all of the building. We looked into the senate chambers and the assembly chambers. We even got to the doorway of the governor’s office and the lieutenant governor’s office. Of course we saw Sarah’s photo on the wall with all the other former governors. I resisted the urge to add graffiti.
We took another way downhill and came to a Ben Franklin store. I guess that they were about as numerous and popular as Woolworths were at one time. We went in and looked around. I bought another Alaska tee shirt because the price was soooo low. Other than that we just killed time until we were due to be picked up by the tour bus.
On the way back to the boat we drove to the USFS Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. This glacier is a tongue of ice stretching 12 miles off the Juneau Icefield. That icefield covers an area measuring 45 x 100 miles. As in most of the world, the glacier is shrinking but the face of the glacier is still pretty near the center. We went to various observation points and I took photos. We went inside and watched another movie. We tried to walk down a path by a salmon brook in order to see the bears feed. Unfortunately the USFS had blocked off the area so that the bears might feed without being bothered by humans.
Once back on the boat we headed for Haines. We saw the humpback whales again but we weren’t able to get as close as we had in the morning. The clouds on the mountains had largely dissipated so we were able to see more glaciers and waterfalls. We also cruised by a lighthouse and an old mine.
Before we got to Haines they fed us a cup of salmon chowder. It was like a corn chowder with fish added. It was filling but didn’t taste as good to me as I had hoped when I first saw it. In Haines we dropped the couple off that had boarded there. Then we scooted back to Skagway. We had left at low tide. We returned at low tide [12 hours later] and had to climb up a very long ramp. The dock was a good 25 feet above the landing. I was impressed with the effort required to get Ollie in her wheelchair all the way up without incident.
Since it was late, we read for a while and turned in.