Thursday, June 19, 2008

oh, what fun in Juneau!

Sal and I arrived in beautiful Juneau on Friday afternoon. Our ferry ride up from Ketchikan was great....we were able to catch some ZZZZ's in our cabin and then watched humpback whales during breakfast on the ship. It doesn't get any better! In Alaska, you don't just travel from Point A to Point B....getting where you're going is half the enjoyment!

We spent the weekend visiting with Sal's cousin, John, who lives in Douglas, just across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau. What an amazing time we had together! On Saturday, we went about 10 miles outside Juneau and hiked a 3.5-mile trail that follows the Mendenhall Glacier trim line through rainforest and waterfalls. The air was refreshingly crisp, and we enjoyed incredible views along the way:
My fellow scrapbookers will appreciate this --- there's a scrapbook shop, The Creating Place, in downtown Juneau, and John and Sal were kind enough to grab a coffee and wait while I browsed. I chatted with an employee there who recently moved to Juneau, but had grown up in Florida, within a few miles of where I did.....small world, huh?

On Sunday, the 3 of us went glacier trekking. In a was AWESOME! A true once-in-a-lifetime experience. Quintessential Alaska! We met our outfitter and pilot at a helipad where we geared up and then boarded a helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier.

It was the first time that Sal and I ever rode in a helicopter, so neat. I loved the way the helicopter lifted off, at an angle, leaning forward….it’s a cool sensation. And yes, then we landed on the glacier!

There, we met up with our trekking guide who fitted us with crampons, which are metal, sharp points that are attached to your boots and allow you to grip the ice as you hike (see photo, left). Being up on top of the glacier, seeing that unique landscape, and hiking on the ice were experiences unlike any other! Unforgettable....

Some of the melted ice formed beautiful blue pools and streams, where we collected and drank some of the pure, refreshing glacial water. The contrast between the turquoise blue water and the bright white ice is so gorgeous!
To get an even better idea of our glacier trekking adventure, here's a brief video clip filmed by the tour company. Way cool !!!

On Monday, the fun continued when Sal and I took an all-day boat tour of Tracy Arm. It's a gorgeous fjord that's about 50 miles south of Juneau. At every turn, not unlike most of Alaska, we saw one breathtaking view after another…..sheer granite cliffs, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, icebergs, glaciers and wildlife (there's a bald eagle sitting on the upper left corner of this iceberg):

And at this time of year, the resident harbor seals are giving birth, so we were also treated to seeing some seal pups resting on icebergs with their mothers. Loved that !!!
(Note the green hue of the water in the fjord; it’s caused by glacial silt in suspension, filtering the light.) The highlight of the tour was how they pulled the boat close to the “Windex blue” face of Sawyer Glacier (within only about 1,200 feet).

We just lingered there for an hour, enjoying lunch and the incredible view (and the chill in the air!). We even saw (and heard) some calving activity (chunks of ice falling from the glacier face)….it really does sound like thunder.

When we returned to Juneau that evening, we caught up with John after his day at the office (he’s an attorney for NOAA). He joined us for a ride on Juneau’s famous Mount Roberts Tramway. The weather was still clear and sunny, so we had amazing views from the summit. A perfect end to a perfect day! Except that after dinner we had to bid a sad farewell to John, who was such a gracious host during our stay. We'll miss you, John, and will look for you in Florida sometime! Thanks again!

We caught an early AM flight out of Juneau on Tuesday and we're now staying in a cozy cabin, at Bear Creek Cabins, in Seward (south-central Alaska). We have some fun stuff planned here during the next couple of days. I'll blog about the Seward leg of our trip soon, as our cabin’s spotty WiFi connection permits.

Thanks for coming along with us on our journey…..I’ll catch you later in the week!


Claudia said...

Hi Susan and Sal! I was just catching up on your posts about your adventures in Alaska! The pics of you guys on the glacier is amazing...what an experience! Glad you were able to see cousin John. I hope you continue to enjoy your wonderful journey through Alaska! Love, Claudia

perilloparodies said...

how great to have spent some time with John and to see so many amazing and beautiful things. just reminds me how great and creative God is. wow...