Published: May 26th 2012May 26th 2012
PORT OF WHITTIER, ALASKA
The clear weather held as far north as Glacier Bay. We had wonderful stops in Juneau and Skagway with clear skies and plenty of sun.
It is a little hard to believe that the capital city of Alaska, Juneau, doesn't even have road access. There are, of course, roads about the town, but no highway that connects the city to any other areas of the state. The only way to get there is to fly or come by boat. The amount of float planes in the harbor was overwhelming and they were constantly coming and going all during our stay. One in every 14 people has a pilot's license and owning a plane is as common as having a car in the lower 48.
Skagway was a living historical museum. Born of the Yukon Gold Rush, the town swelled to almost 30 thousand people in the glory year of 1898, then the gold ran out. Nowadays, it has but 900 full time residents. In the summer with seasonal workers and cruise ship visitors, the population can top 10 thousand hardy souls on a good day. Everything is preserved as it was during
the rush and it could easily be used as a movie set without much alteration, just remove the power lines and satellite dishes. Wandering the streets it was easy to imagine that we were there to buy supplies and push on into the Yukon Territory. The same atmosphere prevails today, except the locals are trying to supply the "visitors" with souvenirs, popcorn and trinkets instead of shovels, tents, ammunition and supplies.
Our day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park was flawless. The National Park Rangers that came onboard said it was the best weather day they have seen in two years. The glacier ice glowed blue under the bountiful sunshine and we had calm seas and little wind. The glaciers really are awesome and icebergs were constantly breaking off or "calving" as it is termed. The fact that the glaciers have retreated almost fifty miles in the last 250 years was another thing that was hard to fathom.
Of course, all good things come to an end and our string of splendid weather was no different. The next morning we were completely socked-in and we woke to the blare of the fog horn with drizzle and
overcast skies. Ah, normal Alaska weather had returned. The cold wind blew as we continued north toward Whittier and our planned detour in College Fjord was anti-climatic after the wonderous day in Glacier Bay.
Now, as we sit in Anchorage Airport I can finally have some good internet access. There is something strange about how the glaciers affect the satellite internet on the ship and it has been terrible for the last several days. We will now fly into the interior of Alaska and do some land-based exploration.
There are more photos below