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Published: January 4th 2020
Juneau is the capital of Alaska. It has about 46 miles of proper road. THere has been talk of connecting it to Ketchikan and Canada for a long time. But the plan has been put on hold as the cost does not justify the needs. Typically people move around using boats and sea plane. Our plan today is to start early (you know how Pranav feels about this 😊 ) . We had a very early breakfast as the shore excursion expected us to be in the pickup area by 7:45 am. Our plan today is to visit the Mendenhall glacier, a temperate rainforest garden and the state museum. It had rained the previous night and it was a chilly morning. We had our jackets on and still can feel the cold. As the tour bus progressed its way toward Mendenhall glacier, the driver, a young lady from Seattle provided excellent history lesson about Alaska’s state capital. It is her first year serving as a tour guide and driver and she was looking forward to head home in another 2 weeks. It is interesting to see that most of the workers and even tour operators are temporary plants from lower 48. Some of them come back regularly every summer for the past few years to make extra money. Now about Mendenhall, it is 3.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. The bus dropped us near the entrance. We had 90 minutes here. There were few trails one can take to get closer to the glacier. We took the 2 mile round trip one that can get as close as possible. As the summer is closing out, there was quite a bit of snowmelt water creating waterfall next to the glacier. It was a beautiful sight to behold. We enjoyed taking pictures and admiring the views. Our next stop was the rainforest garden. This place is run by husband and wife, naturist couple. They have planted variety of local plants, trees and ferns to demonstrate the geography of the area. They were very knowledgeable and explained about the flora and fauna of the region. There is a trail that one can walk around to view these labeled exhibits. We were also given cookies and tea. After this we headed to downtown Juneau, location of the Museum. For all the 3 activities, we had already paid the fee. So we were received by museum employee and he gave a brief overview of what was in store for us. Unfortunately, we barely had an hour to spend in this museum. There were at least 3 hours worth of exhibits to see. Lot of material about native living and how Alaska got settled. We headed back to the port around 12:30 pm. We didn’t want to go back to the ship to have lunch. We walked around downtown to check out if there was any interesting place to have lunch. As one would expect, most of the popular restaurants were serving seafood. Inside a mall like structure, we found a pizza place and decided to have lunch there. We ordered a large pizza and shared. It was not bad at all. Then we walked around the downtown area, got some coffee, before heading back to the ship. Ship was departing by 4 PM. When we left the ship, there was strict instruction for all to be back by 3:30 pm. We wanted to watch the ship departing from the 7th deck open area. There were quite a bit of activity and anxious ship and ground crew working to figure out 2 passengers still missing. It was 4 PM now. Ship pays a hefty fine and additional fees by the minute if they overstay after the 30 minute grace period. We noticed one of the security guys running out to the landing area to being these 2 passengers onboard at the very last minute. There was all around sarcastic clapping for these folks. Typically, the ship leaves and the stranded passengers would have to find their way to the next port on their expense.
The event of the night was a theater performance from Encore called “The Secret Silk”. Going with little to no information on the show itself, we went with little expectation. However, we were blown away by the production quality and acting. The show was about a elderly couple, who sew silk for a living, one day taking in a mysterious girl with the power to weave the most beautiful silk, although with the requisite that she could not be watched while weaving. The couple gets greedy and pushes the girl to make more and more silk, finally finding out that girl is a crane using her own feathers as cloth as gratitude for the couple saving her from a hunter before. It was a simple story, yet beautifully woven (haha).
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