What a Rush! Alaskan Cruise Vacation: Day 4 Juneau

IMG_0347The one thing on holidays that I never have problems with is getting up in the morning. On Day 4, I awoke around 6:00 a.m. eager to see the first port of call. As had been the case all week, the weather was warm and sunny–not at all what we’d been led to expect. In my nightgown, I stood on the balcony and took pictures of the coast. We decided to have breakfast in Blu, the aqua class dining room, and the service was as efficient in the morning as it had been the previous evening. Coffee, juice, French pastry seemed to appear out of thin air. I had the best French Toast ever, and John had fresh blueberry pancakes.

Once we were finished, it was back to the room to watch the ship come into port.Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, can only beIMG_0348 reached by ship or plane. There’s no road or rail to connect the city to the rest of Alaska or the Canada and the Lower 48 as they call the continental states. As we moved closer to the city, we saw individual houses nestled among the trees. What a great place for a cottage, but come the winter, not sure I’d want to bIMG_0352e as isolated as some of the places were, but then you had cute little communities set together amidst the trees. The tide was out and the vast expanse of beach beckoned.  As we reached the port and the docks, I became more and more impatient to venture into this remarkable town. Juneau reminded me a lot of the towns I’d seen on the east coast when we’d visited Newfoundland. The buildings weIMG_0357re mainly made of wood and painted bright colors. Some were in need of work, while others were beautifully maintained. From the balcony I watched as the ship settled. It’s quite a process getting the boat attached to the dock and having the gang way20150614_124518_resized attached to the ship. 20150614_124225_001_resizedThe gangplank changes level as the tide goes in or out, so we often went off the ship at one level and returned at another. Juneau was There spread out below us an amazing sight to see, but there was a tramway that Was calling John’s name. Mount Roberts dominates the town. and we had to go up there and see it. The view on the way up was breathtaking As we climbed higher and higher, all of Juneau spread out below us. IMG_0362 IMG_0367  The Tlingit tram driver announced out arrival to the mountain spirit with a chant and a drum song. He taught us all to say hello, but i can’t for the life of me remember it now.IMG_0363 Mount Roberts is a mix of educational opportunities and hiking trails. We took the one mile one and saw a number of inIMG_0386credible things including trees with moss growing on them the way you’d expect to find in the south. When I think Alaska, I think cold and snow. i really expected to see stunted trees and maybe lichens and moss. I didn’t expect the lush temperate rain forest I found there. Yes, I’d read about it, but seeing is believing. I also saw living totem poles, something I didn’t even know existed. image of tree totem

IMG_0437 When I think of the word “raptor”, I think Jurassic Park or basketball. What I didn’t think of was eagles, but eagles are modern day raptors. This lovely lady is the main exhibit at the Mount Roberts Raptor display. Sadly, some idiot shot her through the beak and she’d have died had it not been for the conservationists who nursed her back to health. Sadly, because of the damage to her eye she sustained in the incident, shIMG_0382e can’t fly and will have to spend the rest of her days in captivity. Since eagles mate for life, there’s probably some lonely male eagle out there pining away for her. I IMG_0418compared my wingspan to hers and of course came up short!

As I mentioned, the view from Mount Roberts was extraordinary.

From the tram we went to visit one of Juneau’s infamous gold rush days’ saloons: The Red Dog Saloon.

This was one of the most unusual places I’ve ever seen. The floor was covered in three inches of sawdust. The walls held up various stuffed animals–some real, some mockeries of the real thing.  Have you ever seen one of these? IMG_0470IMG_0458

The waitresses were literally busting out all over, but the food was good and the beer superb. Some of the memorabilia was really unique and the service signs made me laugh. IMG_0462

IMG_0472  And what wild west saloon in the north would be complete without the fierce antlered beaver? Leaving the Red Dog, we returned to the dock to embark on our second activity of the day–a trip to the Glacier Gradens. Check out the quick you-tube video. It shows you somIMG_0484e of what we saw. Probably the thing that impressed me most were the uprooted trees, replanted in thIMG_0506e mu and used as flower baskets. The place was absolutely incredible. We took the cart up to the lookout just as you see in the video and even saw an eagle in flight. So amazing to see so many of the magnificent birds. From the gardens, we were bused to the Mendenhall Glacier. Take a minute to look at the link and see how much the glacier has changed in the past ten years. If I ever needed proof of global warming, this was it. Look at the pictures on Wikipedia closely and then look at mine. IMG_0566 The geologist gave a really neat talk about the glacier usiIMG_0559ng photographs to show how much it’s changed since the fist visitors came to see it a hundred years ago.

From the glacier, we went back to the Juneau docks and the eagle we’d seen earlier in the day was still atop the fish processing plant waiting for the day’s catch to come it. He must’ve spent the bettIMG_0451er part of the afternoon watching for those fishing boats and the buffet they’d deliver. For John and I, it was back to the ship where we sat on the balcony and watched the town, had some wine and basked in the heat of the late Alaskan afternoon. That night we attended an outstanding acrobatic performance in the theater and then had another delectable meal in Blu.  Halfway through the Alaskan Cruise Vacation. Tomorrow it’s Skagway and a train ride you wouldn’t believe.   See you tomorrow for Day 5.IMG_0569

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