Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alaska - Day 8 - Juneau 5/25/2011

Tram From Below

At this point in the cruise, we are in the mode of a city a day--If this is Wednesday, this must be Juneau. We actually liked the capitol of Alaska, though we could not see Russia from here, either. However, old Russian enclaves, such as Sitka, are not too far away. It was Russia from whom we purchased Alaska in 1867 for $7.2 million. It was popularly known as Seward's folly or ice box; he was Lincoln's Secretary of State. Juneau (population of about 31,262) is the only state capital is the US with no road access. It can only be reached by air or sea.

Close-Up of Gondola

View From the Tram

We found that all the tours touted on board the Princess were equally available--and cheaper--on the dock, within a 5 minute walk from the ship. We wanted to try the $44 (each) combo ticket for the Tram and a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. The tram climbed 3,100 feet to the top of Mount Roberts in about 4.5 minutes. On the way up, we learned that there were some 300 miles of mining tunnels inside the mountain and that one of the chambers is large enough to hold the Super Dome!

Atop Mount Roberts

Claire wanted to hike a bit, despite the snow; she did slip and fall, but otherwise enjoyed herself immensely. But, she did have to clean off the pants, later, for our second formal night dinner. I was still nursing a pulled tendon, so I settled for indoor entertainment--an historical slide show of the area and a family musical entertainment with a nature slide show. These were all included in the ticket price. There was a beautiful carved Indigenous-themed chess set available, but I could not find a price listed. There was an injured, captive bald eagle named Lady Baltimore in a wooden structure; she was awesome; she probably had a 6 foot wingspan.

Totem Tree in Juneau

Start of the Trail

Trail Atop Mount Roberts

Anonymous Intrepid Hiker on Mount Roberts

Self-Portrait by The Artist

Lady Baltimore

Mendenhall Glacier

The bus tour driver was a retired school teacher who came to Alaska in the 1960's for two years and never returned to the Outside--that's us in the Lower 48 as they used to say, possibly before Hawaii was admitted as a state. He knew many facts and all the important people in the area. The 25 mile drive to Mendenhall Glacier took about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, we were only allowed 45 minutes to visit, so we did not have time to hike to Nugget Falls, which was impressive, but was itself a 45 minute round trip walk. We did take in an 11 minute nature slide show, price included. The lake beneath the glacier had a number of kayaks and multi-person canoes plying the water.


The Lake by the Mendenhall Glacier

The Lake Again

Nugget Falls

Atypical Day Aboard the Diamond Princess

Here in Juneau, at least, March does come in like a lion. But then it pretty much stays like a lion all the way through June, with maybe one or two days when it’s slightly less than a lion… like a cheetah, or something. Or an African hunting dog. Yeah. Round these parts, March comes in like a lion and goes out like an African hunting dog. ~ Geoff Kirsch

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