Everyone is excited today because it will be our first trip on the Alaska Marine Highway – as the name implies it is on the water and not a paved road. We will be traveling the next two weeks on and off the ferry.
It was hard to believe but it was the second in a row day of partial sunshine in Skagway – so we had time and did one more walk thru town – lots of shops and historic buildings to look at. What was nice is that on Sunday not too many people around.
Finally it was time to check in at the ferry dock and we got in the line. Everything checked out (bought tickets last February and the only thing that changed was the time we were scheduled to leave today (two hours later).
Drove the coach onto the ferry without too much of a hassle – only issue was the tailpipe was low and they kept putting boards under the wheels to lift the rear end and avoid wrecking the tail pipe – I will have to say that the employees for AMH were very considerate and worked hard.
Brenda had to drive the car on by herself. Once on board we went up above and found our seat. Had to leave the dogs in the coach – peace and quiet for us – lonely for the dogs.
The “Fairweather” pulled out of dock without hardly an issue and we were off to Haines, AK for a drop off of others and pick up more. When we arrived I was able to walk the dogs and Brenda got our supper from the coach. When we returned someone had taken our seat – even though we left our computers and camera – someone thought we left them and they turned them into the office.
The scenery along the way was spectacular.
Not a seat to be found but the guy who took our seat offered us to sit with him – upset at first but it turned out to be a good thing. He was local from Haines and had been in Alaska for I would guess 40 years. He told us all kinds of things about the people and fishing (he was a commercial fisherman) and the wildlife and what restaurants to eat at in each of the cities we were bound for. I guess in the future don’t get upset when things turn out different than what you expected.
In fact – Mike the guy we were visiting with was on his way to Seattle and was returning in a week or so later. Brenda has been trying to find someone who was visiting Sitka, AK (we are not this trip) so they could go by the quilt shop and pick up her row-by-row pattern – it turns out that he is stopping in Sitka on the way back to see his brother – and Brenda in her efficient ways already had a self-addressed stamped envelope with her with a description of the row-by-row and he said he would get it and mail it to her. Now we will wait and see – good things do happen.
I don’t sit well – like to be up and about – so I was going outside and taking pictures and keeping an eye out for whales – none to be seen and then back in and then back out.
The inside of the ship was wonderful – better than what Brenda was expecting – restaurant – lounge areas – comfortable seating – study areas – kids area – all in all it was quite nice.
Arrived only a few minutes late (7:20 PM) and we got off fairly easy and headed for our campground.
Had made previous (one week early) reservations because we were going to be here a week and didn’t want to figure out how to boon-dock for that long.
Spruce Meadows RV Park is near the ferry and is a 50 lot campground with lots of trees and full hook ups. Roads and sites are gravel but decent size. They even furnished covered picnic tables at most of the sites. They seem to accommodate the campers.
Monday woke up to overcast morning with some sunshine – oh hurray! We took off to Juneau (12 miles away) to explore. Found the visitors center and gathered paperwork.
Took a ride out to Sheep Creek and the Chum Salmon were starting to run – few fisherman and lots of seagulls – noticed a lot of dead salmon along the creek as they expired on their return up the creek after they deposit their eggs.
Then we walked around the historic part of town – saw the Red Dog Saloon
– lots of tourist’s shops and we skipped the Cruise section of town that had all the diamond stores and excessive souvenir shops.
Even whimsical art work on a metal shop building.
Brenda did find her quilt store and picked up her row-by-row pattern she wanted.
Great murals in town.
My biggest goal while in Juneau was to visit the Glacier Bay NP – now that involves an air flight and then a boat ride thru the bay – I called for a ticket and the tour company didn’t do it on short notice – so I checked the airlines and they had a seat and then called the boat company and they had a seat – after a couple of hours debating and checking for connection I decided to go for it – ticket in hand by 8 PM.
Tuesday is my trip to Glacier Bay NP.
Up at 4 AM and at the airport by 5. Noticed the fog but thought it would go away – it seemed to linger. After 6 I was getting nervous – flight was to leave at 6 and connect with boat which leaves at 7:30. Flight was a half hour so still time to spare. 6:30 and no announcements so up to the counter and they didn’t expect to leave until 9 – I will miss the boat ride.
Ended up getting full refunds on both tickets and called Brenda to come and pick me up – day at home instead.
Not sitting around on a nice day and pouting, so we headed out to Mendenhall Glacier – world’s few urban glaciers – for a hike and viewing. Lots of people here, buses dropping people off and more visiting.
I saw the movie and then we walked the dogs to Nugget Falls – Wow! It was amazing the amount of water coming down the hill and the power it exerted. At one time it produced hydro-electric power.
Saw the Glacier and icebergs in the lake.
We do admit that whenever we take our dogs for a walk on a trail there are always smiles from the people we see – seems like everyone at one time in their life has had a dachshund. Everyone wants to pet them so we carry treats and let them spoil the dogs – and they always smile –both dogs and people.
Walked another path to see the salmon running – it seems that’s all they do in Alaska – and we did see some in the creek. On the way back we heard a noise and it was a bear – thank God it was across the creek from us and we didn’t have to deal with it with the dogs.
Now I am understanding all this rain – we are in a temperate rainforest – yes this is a rainforest and the mountains hold all the moisture to land here – heard someone say today that there are 320 days of rain or overcast – yikes!
After all that hiking we dropped the dogs off and visited the Alaskan Brewery – had their beers before in bottles but finally got to the mothership.
Wednesday again rain. We goofed off during the morning and decided to visit the State Capitol Building this afternoon. We walked through all 5 floors and received a good history lesson as they had newspapers posted on the wall with all the history of Alaska.
Even saw the picture of Sarah Palin on the wall.
The pillars in front of the building are all Alaskan marble.
Since the rain stopped (at least for a while) we walked around downtown in the historic area and walked through all some of the tourist shops – and I can say there are a whole lot of them here. Again they have numerous diamond shops adjacent to the harbor where all the cruise ships dock – there were 4 ships in dock at this time.
By accident we found the Barnaby Brewery – a small brewery with small batches – but good beer.
Thursday rain all night and morning – sat around goofing off and planning for our Vancouver Island trip which is coming soon.
After lunch we decided to venture out to the Macaulay Fish Hatchery. There are 30 different hatcheries around Alaska that have been helping the Salmon (and other fish) continue to be a plentiful crop for the fishermen in the area.
Impressed with the system and how they are able to add millions of fishes to the sea.
Did see a couple of sea lions and an eagle – waiting for lunch – them not me.
Picked up the dogs and took a ride north to the Shrine of Saint Therese. The church knows how to pick a beautiful retreat location. Oh and the rain did stop while we were out.
Continued up the highway and ended up at Eagle Beach – looked too muddy for fun so continued back home. Did see an eagle by the ocean waiting for a fish.
Got back home and it started to rain and rain.
Friday morning and it’s still raining – did I tell you we were camped in a rainforest?
Today is do nothing day – because of the rain – so smoking ribs and drinking a growler.
Saturday is the pick day of the week and we have scheduled a kayak and Ice cave exploration trip with Brian Weed – Hidden Juneau History group – friend of Amanda and Stu – Tecopa’s parents.
Arrived before 7 AM and met Brian and he had everything ready including inflatable kayaks (one for each) and gear. On the water we go and paddling away – got up near icebergs to touch them – wow!
After an hour of paddling I had a nature call and asked Brian if we could pull over and I get out – sure there was an island there and I tried to step out – but I tipped and over I went into the 35 degree water up to my chest – didn’t take long to get out – it was cold, real cold!
Brian gathered my boat and emptied it out and said “let’s go back and you go as fast as you can – I will keep up with Brenda”. “Keep wiggling your toes”.
I paddled all the way back as fast as I could (arms are sore now) and got to shore. Did have a change of shoes and socks which helped. We thanked Brian and he was off on another adventure by helicopter in the afternoon – quite the guy!
Since our original trip was shortened it gave me time to take our toilet apart (peddle was sticking and the water would overflow). Got it done and works better than before.
The day is nice and off we went with the dogs to hike the Treadwell Mine Trail. This was one of the biggest gold mines in Alaska (before Klondike) and was located across the bay from Juneau heading south of Douglas. They had a great booklet for a self-guiding tour and the trail was well defined and took us through another rainforest – damp and cool – though it didn’t rain.
Enjoyed the history and unfortunately parts of the mine caved in in 1917 and flooded and eventually it closed. Wonder if there is any more gold down those shafts?
Dropped the puppies off and did dinner at the Hanger on the Wharf – good food.
Sunday is back on the ferry and stopping at Wrangell for a couple of days.