The city I thought I'd never see

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North America » United States » Alaska » Juneau
August 2nd 2011
Published: April 30th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Highlights at Juneau:

Mendenhall Glacier/ Visitor center
Mt.Roberts tramway
walking along the touristy shops around the port
salmon runs along sheep creek

Haines...Tuesday, August 2nd

The Ferry terminal is further away from the so-called downtown & so we left early to drive up there. Some 5 mi or so. We took the 9.00 am ferry to Juneau. It was 4 hrs of cruising along, fairly warm & pleasant. The landscape was fantastic. Mountains just rising up from the ocean floor. We saw a few tidewater glaciers on the chilkat range & snow on many mountains. The view from the Solarium was just great. S had so much fun indoors; movie theatre, play area. She fell asleep soon & in almost 2 hrs we reached the capital city.

We got a view of the Mendenhall glacier just as we docked. The clouds seemed scary, but we knew Juneau was like this always. So, we turned on Mendenhall loop road, as soon as we saw it. Took it all the way to the end at the Mendenhall glacier visitor center. It is a pretty neat visitor center & there was a $2 fee to see the exhibits & a short film. We saw everything in detail. We could not help notice the presence of Indians here. From where did they come??? Then it struck us that they were all probably from the cruise ship & had taken the bus tour. At the visitor center, I inquired about the waterfalls & it turns out that there is a trail to get there. So, we took the short but beautiful 20 min into the trail & soon we were at the waterfalls & much closer to the glacier & the icebergs. Some people had taken a canoe trip & stopped here too. Btw, the falls is named NUGGET Falls. Yeah, as in gold nugget. Mountain goats were in the vicinity around the mountains. We saw so many helicopters zooming by the glacier. G guessed that it should be tours. Sure it was. But just too many. We spent a good part of the early evening there & turned S towards our home. Sally's B&B. In the heart of downtown, close to all the ferry docks. It is a studio apartment & we instantly liked the place.

Wednesday, August 3rd

Fairly good weather. By the time we started
Port of Juneau Port of Juneau Port of Juneau

view from Mt.Roberts
driving, it became sunny even. So, we stopped instantly by Mt. Roberts tramway. Bought the steep $27 ticket up the cable car. It is one of the must-do things when you are in Juneau. But once we were at the top, we did not regret one bit doing something most tourists do. There was a film, nature center & a decent trail. We took the shortest, but it took me to the top. The grass was green & the meadows were filled with wild flowers. Even spotted a black bear far on a mountain. I did not take the trail further up, though I wanted to. S saw a live eagle close up. It was blind on the left eye & would die out in the wild. So, the nature center is taking care of it now.

S did seem a little scared going up, but she had fun going down. Franklin st was busy. Tourists from 3 cruise ships. So reminded me of Skagway.

I did some souvenir shopping while S took a nap. After heading home, we decided to walk around the city. We took the stairs to Governer's mansion. We stopped by the Alaska state capital building, the court, the city hall & the legislative building. We hit Franklin St again. At Manilla square, we met an old man playing the flute. We struck a conversation & apparently, he & his wife were from a cruise ship & heading to skagway. And they were from Berkeley, CA. 😊 He entertained S by playing many a nursery rhymes. It was more like viewer's choice. S asked for Twinkle Twinkle, Mary had a little lamb, you are my sunshine, many many more. After reading about Patsy Ann, the first welcomer to the city, we called it a day.

Thursday, August 4th

We woke up to rain & clouds. The clouds came down so low that they could touch the ground. It was all white & green & dreamy. Beautiful landscape. It reminded us so much of Hilo, HI. We were glad to have seen most of the attractions the last 2 days when the weather was better. In fact, awesome, when compared to today. The cable to Mt.Roberts went into the clouds midway. Looked like a Gondola to heaven.😊 Though it would be impossible to see anything down from up there, it would have been awesome to be inside clouds.

It did not make any sense to be outdoors in that pouring rain. So, we went to a US Costco.😊 S seemed hungry afterwards. So, we dropped at a mall on Mendenhall road. I think Bullwinkle's pizza parlor. S was stuck to the video games inside & managed to eat her pizza well too. Then she promptly fell asleep along our drive to Echo cove, at the end of road. At Echo cove, we saw salmons jumping & leaping out of water. For whatever reason, we did not know. But this small lake supposedly had salmons. In thousands. A neighbor at the parking lot informed me so. They were not spawning here, but they had spawning colors. Pink Salmons apparently.

We basically hung around in the area & the downtown. We reached the Ferry terminal earlier but could not get in until 10.30pm. We were so tired that we picked up keys to our cabin & slept by the time we started off. Even S, surprisingly. This Ferry, Matanuska, will take us to Prince Rupert, BC, Canada in 2 nights.😊


Strictly not allowed to walk on the glacier

Friday, August 5th

It was only when we woke up at close to 7am did we realize that we all slept like logs.😊 At that time, we were almost docking at Petersburg. One of the premier communities along SE Alaska. It was a short 45 min stop. S woke up soon & we all had a hearty breakfast at the cafe. So many pancakes that I don't want to even see one in the next few weeks. Before we knew, we docked at Wrangell. We were all up & ready. So, even if it was a short stop, we got down. The ferry terminal was far away from the downtown. So, we could not go further than the terminal itself. Some girls were selling garnets. I asked one of them where they get these & she replied that they had to take a boat up the river to a point & then hike 1/2 mile to get it. She finished saying, ""so, yeah, it is a lot of work getting these garnets". 😊 Turned out to be a longer stop than expected & we departed late. The vehicle deck was almost full. At Wrangell, we were relieved to see
NOT a normal picture...look closelyNOT a normal picture...look closelyNOT a normal picture...look closely

Sheep creek..a .major salmon run. We saw atleast 500 of them waiting to get into the creek from the Ocean waters. Amazing site!!!
cars from ON, TX & AZ. We were eagerly waiting for our Ketchikan stop. G and S were up and about the lounge. There was a small play area on the ferry. And some friends too.😊 I was busy catching up on the blog.

Being in the water all day didn't seem like a big deal until we landed in Ketchikan. We walked & ran around. We realized we missed doing all that. We missed land. But 3 hrs passed away like a blink 😞 and we were back in the ferry in no time. A short night. We would land in Prince Rupert, BC, Canada early next morning.

Wow! We've been out of home for a long time, and we are still 4 driving days away from home. *phew* Quite an experience, though! 😊

The last leg of our trip, to be continued...


“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton

Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 27


fishing on Echo lakefishing on Echo lake
fishing on Echo lake

supposed to have a great deal of chum/sockeye salmons
The Solarium at sunsetThe Solarium at sunset
The Solarium at sunset

You can actually sleep here for free if you don't have a room. It is not bad, really.
Juneau State CapitalJuneau State Capital
Juneau State Capital

Not so great looking on the outside. hmmm...

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