Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alaskan Cruise Day 4: Juneau, Alaska

We were early birds again and started with a quick-ish breakfast at Garden Café.  We got to talk to Brandi for a bit, and it seems like they are having a great time J   
We got off the ship as soon as we could, grabbed a taxi, and got up to the Mendenhall Visitor Center by 7:30.  
In the picture below, Nugget Falls is to the right of Mendenhall Glacier--that's the first hike we took!
We were the first ones there and made the most of it!  We felt like we won a leg of “The Amazing Race!”  
We took some pictures at the scenic viewpoint, walked around right around the main area, and then we took off on the Nugget Falls Trail.  
It was a short trail, but some parts of it were flooded, so we manned up and waded through the puddles!  Rolled up pants and wet shoes and socks were totally worth it!  The views of the glacier with the waterfall next to it were amazing!  
We hiked over the really big rocks, and Josh went all the way to get a better look at AJ Falls.  We hiked back to the Visitor Center and started on the East Glacier Trail, a 3 ½ mile hike way up above Nugget Falls.  
There was another pretty view at the beginning of the hike, and then it was such a unique rainforest atmosphere, like in Ketchikan.  
It was really fun to stand over the falls and see what we had just seen a short while ago.  Yesterday, Josh has several earth caches on his to-find list, but there were also a couple of regulars.  We spent a few minutes searching for one, and we finally admitted defeat, only to find out later we just weren’t high enough on the trail!  He was able to add the smiley once we stopped at a scenic overlook later.  We did see several tour-led groups, but it definitely wasn’t overcrowded.  
The climb down the mountain did take quite a bit of time, and we were both anxious to move on to our next activity.  We were SO pleased with our choice of how to spend our time in Juneau!  Mendenhall Glacier was beautiful from every angle we saw it, the falls were so pretty to see and listen to, the water was pretty to watch as it had interesting shaped calves of the glacier floating around.  
We finally got a taxi ride back to downtown, but we didn’t have as much time as we thought we would to do “town stuff.”  We raced over to find a cache and read about Patsy Ann, a dog who loved welcoming the cruise boats to Juneau in the early 1900s.  She much preferred roaming around town to being a typical family dog, and she was adopted by the whole town.  The cruise ships did not run on regular schedules like they do now, and even though Patsy Ann was deaf, she always knew when one was approaching port.  We HUSTLED back to the ship for all aboard—ours was the farthest docked ship L  We actually had to run about a mile up the road because we didn’t realize how far away the ship was from Downtown—standing in Downtown, it looked like it was right around the corner…  We did get to see an eagle perched on a pole during our hustle, so that’s a win!
Once back on board, we unloaded in our room and then went to lunch in The Garden Café.  We ran into Mom and Dad, and luckily, we were able to eat together; the lunch area was packed!  After lunch, we moved with Mom up to Spinnaker Lounge to relax and watch the beautiful scenery.  We all met to play cards, but we only lasted a few hands because that’s when we started cruising through Tracy Arm towards Sawyer Glacier.  
Josh and I scored amazing seats at the front of the boat on Deck 13.  We were right up against the glass above the wheelhouse and seeing where we were headed first-hand.  
EVERYTHING was amazing and like nothing we’d seen before.  
Approaching the glacier, there were many icebergs floating in the water (they are fun to guess what shape they are like clouds), tons of waterfalls ensconced in the mountainsides, and surprisingly beautiful weather.  
Sawyer Glacier was gorgeous with lots of blue coloring.  We were lucky enough to see a chunk calve off while we watched!  
The ship cruised towards the glacier and then the captain turned the boat in a slow circle so everyone was able to see everything from any spot on the ship.  A super nice lady lent us her binoculars and told us where to look to see seals!  We were able to see a few mountain goats as we cruised back our of the fjord, but still no bears L  

After we turned around and headed away from the glacier, we got ready for dinner.  We met at 8:30 in Azura, which was really good.  It was working out really well that we all did different excursions, because we had lots to share at dinner!
An elephant towel!

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