Saturday, February 14, 2015

Alaska - Day 5, Juneau & Mendenhall Glacier

Thursday, September 25

Weather: Mid 50'sF
Windy, drizzly, rainy. A gray day. The sun did try to break through the thick clouds today, but not very hard.

Arriving in Juneau
We had breakfast in our room this morning, since our bus was leaving so early. After a brief heart attack when my husband's room key went missing (you can't leave the ship without it) five minutes before we were to disembark, we located our tour bus and were on our way to Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier
It looked just like in the pictures! Imagine that! And there was a spectacular waterfall next to it that was spraying mist all over. We did all the walking we had time for (two hours), going all the way to the falls and back, then visiting the visitor center (small, but very nice and quite informative). There's a map of the ice fields on the wall at the center. It's miles and miles with many glacier arms, and Mendenhall is just a tiny part of it. A small dot. I was impressed. Some of the glaciers are receding, but some are growing. I was heartened to learn that.

We thought it was surely a
decoy, until it ruffled its feathers!
We saw very few wildflowers on our walk, as it was too late in the season. There was some fall color, mainly the yellow variety, to make up for the shortage of flowers. Very pretty. We had hoped to see bears here, but no. Not this time. We did, however, see a couple of bald eagles. One of them was hitching a ride on a little iceberg that had broken away from the glacier. I don't know why I thought that was fascinating, but I did.

Here we are, close to the visitor center.
You can see it's quite a walk to that
waterfall, but it's paved, mostly flat,
and easy.
What a gorgeous spot it was. I became rather nostalgic for Glacier Park and Waterton Lakes and Banff and Jasper. I had hoped to go camping there this summer, but that didn't happen. I am wondering what camping would be like at this stage of the game, actually, with my husband's memory issues. Ah, well. I need to figure out how to best deal with the ever-changing situation. Keep calm and carry on, as they say.

The Red Dog Saloon. It was crowded!
After our tour, we returned to the ship for lunch, then walked downtown in the rain for a bit of shopping*, sightseeing, and a libation at the famous Red Dog Saloon, where we were treated to live music. 

Nice totem pole at the
Governor's Mansion.
We managed to find the Governor's Mansion, which is a very nice place with a small yard that's enclosed by a white picket fence. There's a small sign that reads, “Private garden. Please keep out.” It is a surprisingly unprivate house with quite open and rather inviting grounds. You almost get the impression that if you rang the doorbell, you'd be invited inside. Almost. The neighborhood seems like an ordinary sort of place where you'd feel perfectly comfortable taking your dog for a stroll. If your dog likes to walk in the rain, which mine doesn't.

Scenic Juneau, even in the rain.
Juneau, on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, is the capital of Alaska. Our tour guide had mentioned that Juneau's State Capitol Building was voted 50th most beautiful in the whole country! For those of you not from the United States, please note that there are only 50 State Capitol Buildings in the United States. And I hate to say it; but, yes, it's very plain indeed.

The wind was blowing a gale as we returned to the ship in a drizzle. I'd begun to wonder why we'd brought our ski shells. Today, I figured it out! We stayed warm and dry with our layers on, and the gloves were most welcome against the chill wind, too.

I could have used this shot of the
welcome sign at the top, eh?
But I didn't. 
We attended a fascinating presentation on board in the afternoon. Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod (coming up on March 7 this year), spoke about the preparation, dedication, and mental toughness required to participate in the race. Wow. I have quite an imagination, but I can't even imagine giving that a try. And I am pretty well convinced that I don't have what it takes to be a frontier woman. At least, not any more. But she sure does!

Tonight's dinner: We both enjoyed the sea scallop ceviche. For our next course, I had celery and apple cider cream (cold) soup, and Harry had lamb broth with barley. For our main course, he had beef fajitas that he really liked. I had perfectly prepared grilled orange roughy on a bed of creamed leek with carrots and potato. Guess what we had for dessert?

The show this evening was a salute to Motown by the singers and dancers, “Motor City,” and it was very good. We had planned to go dancing for a bit, but we decided to turn in. We have another early day tomorrow in Skagway. We're going on a train ride to the Yukon!

*Shopping has been interesting so far, and the rescheduling of our itinerary has inconvenienced lots of people besides those on the ship. Yesterday, in Ketchikan, the shopkeepers were rushing to open up for us, since they weren't expecting us until later in the week. “You weren't supposed to be here yet.” Quite a few of the shops didn't bother, and more than one was attended by staff who had just rolled out of bed and were clearly suffering from whatever late-night activities they'd indulged in the night before. Today, in Juneau, we heard, “You were supposed to be here yesterday.” Would have been if I could, my friend! Lots of the shops had already packed up and stayed closed, which probably saved me and others a bunch of cash. So, thank you!

I love this shot of my husband making his way down the path.

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