Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 4 -- Juneau

On the fourth day of the cruise, we stopped in Juneau. Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Everyone in Juneau came on a boat or a plane, or was born there. It is the only state capital in our country that cannot be reached by car. As our bus driver told us, "Everyone has a car, but the roads all end outside of town."

We toured Juneau on a bus, starting at the State Museum. It was an interesting place, with displays concerning Alaska's animal population, history and culture. We weren't there long, but we liked it. Right outside of the museum (which is in downtown Juneau) was a beautiful mountain with a waterfall.

From the museum, we drove to Green Angel Garden. This garden was designed and is maintained by a couple who lives nearby and comes to great the tour bus, then serve tea and snacks. The garden itself showcases local Alaskan flowers and other plant life. Peaceful and quiet.

Our next stop was Mendenhall Glacier. Gorgeous. I was distracted by the arctic terns. These birds nest at the foot of the glacier. Once their young are a few weeks old, they start their migration to Antarctic. Imagine -- breeding in Alaska and then flying to the continent centered on the South Pole to live.

The water at the foot of the glacier is full of chunks of ice that have broken off the glacier itself. Since the salmon weren't yet back from the ocean, there weren't any bears for us to see. We did see a beaver's dam. The visitors' center was nice as was the set up for walking out to see the glacier. I imagine Mendenhall was my favorite part of Juneau.

On the way back to the ship, we stopped at Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. This facility imprints their water on young salmon and then releases them into the river, where they make their way to the Pacific Ocean, living there for 7 years. When nature calls, they return to the hatchery.

After the tour, we returned to the ship, shed jackets and gear and went to lunch in town, at the Twisted Fish (good food). We then rode the Mt. Roberts Tram up to the top of the mountain. We had an all-day ticket, but once up and then down again, we decided once was enough. We went shopping, then returned to the ship for an hour or two of doing nothing but sitting in deck chairs -- Steve in the sun and me in the shade.

Great day.



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