Thursday, September 21, 2006

Alaskan Adventures - Juneau/Skagway/Glacier Bay

Many people may not realize that southeastern Alaska, where all the cruise ports are located, is a temperate rainforest. In addition, the reason we got decent prices on this last cruise of the season is because the "rainy season" has commenced. In Juneau we hiked a few miles next to the Mendenhall Glacier in the rain. The tour guide was very knowledgeable about medicinal uses for the local plants and had good dimples, so that was a decent distraction. Our bike tour down a mountain in Skagway had to be truncated by 5 miles because the cloud line was 10 miles up the mountain. Biking in fog downhill is pretty neat, but most of the scenery across the valley was hard to make out.

Glacier Bay was by far the highlight of the trip. The boat is only allowed to go a couple knots per hour, but it was perfect for getting good pictures and looking for wildlife. We even saw the Johns Hopkis Glacier "calve", meaning that big ice chunks broke off of the glacier and tumbled into the water. It makes a noise similar to rolling thunder heard from several miles away. Awesome! The water in Glacier Bay ranges from blue-greenish to brown because of the sediment in the glacier.

Three more days to go...