David and Juli Cruise to Alaska

June 5-13, 2004   Page 4

Wednesday, June 9, 2004: Today we finally had the chance to get off of the boat and set foot on real land in Alaska.  We arrived in Juneau, Alaska at about 5:20 A.M.  We had traveled nearly 730 miles so far since leaving Seattle. As usual, I was up early and got up to see the boat actually arrive and dock.  It was so very beautiful coming in and seeing everything around us.  It was a glorious morning, probably around 45 degrees outside and there was a layer of fog surrounding the town, which is nestled in a valley.  We came in on what is called the Gastineau Channel...more like a wide river.  Juneau is right on the channel.


These are the first photos of our arrival in Juneau.


We docked on the left.  The boat in the photo on the right is a much larger Princess Cruise Ship. 

This was one of my best photos on the entire trip.


After we all enjoyed a breakfast on the boat, it was time to disembark.  We had to have our passports and embarkation cards with us so we could get back on the boat later in the day.  As always, I had prepared for this part of the trip by doing some research.  We would walk through town a bit, catch a bus to Mendenhall Glacier and also take the tram to view the city.  Things went fairly smooth and the weather was pretty much wonderful throughout the entire day.



The map above shows Downtown Juneau, where we docked, and also indicates where Mendenhall Glacier is in comparison.




These are a couple of street scenes from downtown Juneau.  Truly the ultimate tourist trap!!


After walking around town for a while, Juli and I left with Laura and Richard and took a bus to Mendenhall Glacier.  It was about a 20 minute bus ride past small lakes and lots of homes.  It was a wonder to me that the only way in and out of this town is by plane or boat.  There are no roads going inland, from what I was told.  There are numerous fast ferries that one can take to get to some of the other nearby cities.


Mendenhall Glacier is situated in the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest National Forest in the United States.  This Glacier is one of the 38 large glaciers that flow from the Juneau Icefield.  It is a 13 mile long glacier that eventually finds its way into Mendenhall Lake. Mendenhall Glacier was named after Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, who served under President Harrison as the Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894.  It was named in his honor in 1892.  The Visitor's Center and facilities were built in 1962 and this was the first visitor center built in the U.S National Forest System.


At the Visitor's Center we listened to a lecture and also watched a small film.  Then, we hiked one of the many trails.  Indeed, this is a rain forest, though we typically think of these as being in more equatorial climates. Despite the June coolness, there was not lots of snow and there was plenty of greenery.  Along the trail we came across a small waterfall and also saw some spectacular views of the glacier.  It was truly a nice hike.




Here are a couple photos of Juli with Mendenhall Glacier in the background.  Juli and I at the small waterfall on the trail.


After the exhilarating hike and the spectacular views, we headed back into Juneau to go meet the rest of the family and take the trip up the Mount Roberts Tram to see Juneau from high atop the mountain.  I have taken numerous trams, but so far, this one offered the most spectacular views I have seen.  We even were able to look down on our boats.  It was marvelous.




Some Tram scenes




Boat on the left is the Amsterdam.  Boat on the right is the Princess Boat that is in the earlier photo.

We would depart out of Gastineau Channel above right to head to our next destination.


After all of the day's events, we were pretty tired and ready to get back on the boat and have a good meal. By 7 PM we were on our overnight trip to Ketchikan.

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