Published: June 19th 2012May 22nd 2012
Heading into Juneau through the Gastineau Channel
Woke up to another beautiful day as we come into Juneau, Alaska's capitol. Juneau can only be reached by air or water, so it is interesting that they chose this to be the capitol. It is the largest state capitol by land area, and the only one that borders a foreign country.
Today we are heading out for another bike ride - this one near Auke Lake. The van picks us up and we head north up near the Mendenhall Glacier. The highway runs for a number of miles in either direction, then abruptly stops. We unload near a little chapel on the lake, a very picturesque place and I'm sure very popular for weddings. Our guides take us on a pretty (and fast!) ride along a trail all the way to the glacier. We stop lake-side and get to view the glacier up close, along with the many icebergs in the lake that fronts it. We finish our ride up on the other side of the glacier, and take a short walk to the visitor's center to take more photos. Then the best part - we get shuttled to the Alaskan Brewing Company, home of Alaskan Beer, and we
sit in on a "flight" (beer tasting) with the manager, who spent many years in Colorado before heading north. We get to taste several great beers (Deb's favorite - the stout of course; Cecil's is the Brown) and have some salmon chowder for lunch before heading back to the port.
We stop by to visit the statue of Patsy Ann, the deaf dog who knew when the ships were coming in long before the humans were aware (read the plaque for the full story). Petting Patsy Ann ensures that you carry the blessings of friendship throughout life's journey.
Another highlight of this day is seeing Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985. She boarded our ship to give a presentation and talk about her life in Alaska, the Iditarod, her dogs, and her brave (crazy?) decision to head through a Bering Sea blizzard for the win. She is an amazing woman with grit and determination, and we were lucky enough to meet and talk with her after the presentation.
We also stop to see the Red Dog Saloon, then head up in the Mt. Roberts Tramway to get a bird's eye view of
Gastineau Channel. With about 6-8 feet of snow still covering the trails, we are limited in our wanderings, but do watch an interesting video called "Seeing Daylight" which discusses Tlingit life, heritage and history. We learn some Tlingit words, including "Gunalcheesh" which means "Thank you".
After a long day (and yes, the sun was still up well after we left port at 8pm), we head back to the ship for dinner and relaxation.
There are more photos below