Juneau – the capital of Alaska and a thriving little tourist town with more jewellery shops than the Bahamas. I gather the cruise ships open up diamond stores wherever they operate cruises. Every colour, every size of stone, everything you could imagine and the stores were all very busy. Everything is very expensive in Alaska. Juneau is on the mainland but is considered an island because there is no road or rail, everything has to come by boat. Both Kim from yesterday and Bryce today were in love with the smallest Costco store located in Juneau. Bryce was saying houses start at $349,000 American for a basic bungalow. He lives in a basement apartment with 5 other guys, 1 washroom and costs them each $400 a month.
Another grey gloomy day. Our poor Captain must feel like the world is grey, during the night when we are sleeping it has been quite foggy (Yes I wake up to check things out). Last night you could barely see the end of the boats wake.
We are off to visit our first glacier today, the Medenhall Glacier. After a busy day yesterday we booked a shorter excursion today. A bus ride out to the glacier with our driver Bryce. Seems to be an important part of the job description that you have to be funny and very personable. Bryce was he was also very cute. They do live on their tips. Bryce has managed to pay for 3 years of college with his job and his tips. And based on the laughter on his bus he will do quite well today. What a life these young men and women live. You must love the outdoors and people.
Btw Juneau, Icy Strait and Skagway are part of a temperate rain forest. The temperature very rarely gets below 0C (32F) or above 17C (65F).
We have been very lucky, our weather has been in a range from “icky” to “ok we can cope”. A little drizzly, foggy, cool, but hasn’t stopped us from doing anything. It also seems to be foggy when we are sleeping. A lot of the helicopter and float plane trips were cancelled.
It’s about a 40 minute drive from our ship. Juneau is home to around 30,000 people and almost the same number of bald eagles. Bald eagles were everywhere, telephone poles, by the rivers, on the highway posts.
A wee bit wet, but a great hike, even with all the people there it was amazing. If you look at the pic above and see where Jim and I were standing the glacier used to come right over there and Nugget Falls used to go under the glacier. It shows you how much it is receding. Lots of bear signs, but thankfully there weren’t any on the trails :). The river again had what we thought were lots of salmon, but the locals said way lower than normal. Probably another reason why we didn’t see any bears. On the mainland there are grizzly and black bears.
Back to Juneau for a walk around the town and how could we not stop at the Red Dog Saloon for lunch. Bryce our driver needless to say had a wee story about the Saloon. The floor is covered with sawdust. He asked us why? We all yelled “to make cleaning up the blood easier”. He laughed and said no it wasn’t quite as bloodthirsty as we all seemed to think. The pandhandlers used to have to pay for their whiskey and food with gold flakes. After a few drinks they would put their hands in their pockets to pay their bill and sure enough some would fall to the ground. When the Saloon owner closed for the night he would take the sawdust and put it in buckets, the sawdust would float and the gold flakes would sink to the bottom. Jim had to try their signature shot which was appropriately called the “Duck Fart”. Part of excursion package included a trip up the Mt Roberts Tramway where you had beautiful views of the surrounding area and some great hikes. The clouds kept moving in and out and were just fascinating, thankfully this part was dry and again no bears 🙂
Another 20,000 step day, followed by a wonderful balcony dinner from Dave Ferrie and his team for our anniversary. There was enough food for 4 people. We started off with 2 cocktails – I had a London Lemonade (gin) and Jim had a Dark and Stormy (rum), followed by a 1/2 bottle of champagne. There were canapes, then a crab quiche, then a salad. Jim had 2 gigantic lobster tails and I had 2 8 oz beef tenderloins with 3 different sauces. Somehow we then had to find room for 2 desserts and a plate of cookies. What a wonderful way to end the day.