Friday, June 26, 2009

Alaska: Day 4

We throw open the drapes this morning in Juneau and are greeted by thick fog, cold temps, and drizzle. Ruh-roh! This calls for serious gear!

After a quick breakfast, we all head down to the pier to meet our early-morning excursions: David, Olga, and I are headed off to mush huskies atop the Mendenhall Glacier; mom & dad are off to get a birds' eye view of the glaciers via float plane; and Derek is off to fish for whatever's biting. We're greeted by heavy drizzle as we get off the gangway and look for our tour operator. We are quickly disappointed to learn that our mushing tour has been cancelled b/c of the thick fog, making it impossible to land on the glacier. Boohoohoo!!! This was the tour I had my heart set on. *sigh* So ... now we have to decide what to do. Believe it or not, the float plane tours are still an option (since they are not having to land anywhere in cloud cover) and there are precisely 4 seats left on the 9:30 a.m. tour. After a quick debate and a little encouragement from mom, we decide to go. You can't beat a birds' eye view of the glaciers! At this point, we have more than an hour to kill before meeting our plane, so the three of us bid adieu to mom & dad and head off to town to walk around.

In the end, mom & dad's float plane tour was cancelled. The planes don't fly if (a) it's not safe and (b) the cloud cover is too thick to see anything. On this particular day, safety wasn't an issue but visibility certainly was. So they headed off to downtown to ride the gondolla & get a look at Juneau from the ridge above and visit the Nature Center. Afterward, they decided to hop a van tour to the Mendenhall Glacier so they got to see it from the ground rather than air. Hard to say which was better, they got closer - from a different vantage point.

Lucky for us, by the time 9 a.m. rolled around, the clouds had cleared to the north where we would be flying to see the glacier fields so we were a "go" for our float plane tour. We got to watch the planes come in, which was really cool in case you've never paid much attention to float plane landings. (Again, I'm easily entertained! (And happen to love airplanes.)) It didn't take us long to get loaded up and on our way. They had a really cool narration (kinda like going to the museum & getting the headsets) for our flight tour that told us about the region & its history (wish I'd had my notepad to write down some of that info!!). The sights were just ... stunning! All in all, just breathtaking. Hard to describe really. And pictures really don't do it justice, but it'll have to do. And perhaps you'll get the idea.

After our tour, we headed back to the ship for lunch and were fortunate enough to beat the big rush to get back aboard, which also meant we beat the big rush at the restaurant too. We met up with everyone else a bit later. Once again, Derek was foiled in his attempts to bring home "the big one." But he saw wildlife again (more eagles) and enjoyed hearing the captain's stories. Mom & dad enjoyed their impromptu tours, as well, and we passed the afternoon exchanging stories & sharing photos as we sailed out of Juneau on our way to our next port of call by way of the Sawyer Glacier.

Not long after we set sail, the captain informed us that we wouldn't be sailing through the pass to the Sawyer Glacier b/c the ice field had filled in making that fjord virtually impassable. Instead, he charted a course for the Dawes Glacier, which he believed to be more beautiful anyway. This is the afternoon that we saw the most wildlife at one time: seals, sealions, bears, oh my! Needless to say, this afternoon we got an eyeful of beauty as far as the eye could see - from wildlife to stunning vistas.

And thus there are lots of pictures of today's sites to share with you. Enjoy!

Once we were sailing back out of the fjord away from the Dawes Glacier, we went back inside for a little warmth & to prepare for dinner. We all went our separate ways for dinner that evening for no reason in particular other than we couldn't really decide what we wanted to eat. Derek & I enjoyed French cuisine in Le Bistro. Mmmm .... escargots & rack of lamb. Yummy! The only downside to our dinner reservations? Our restaurant was on the interior of the ship so we missed a lot of wildlife sightings. Can't win 'em all!


Anonymous said...

Great slideshow. I haven't seen your pictures of the plane tour or the glacier visit. I'm having as much fun looking at pics since I was there.


great photos, thank you for sharing with us