Category: Introduction

5/17: Mendenhall Glacier

17May-24Mendenhall Glacier is one of the main attractions in Juneau.  It is about a 30 minute drive from downtown, and it is odd to see a large glacier so close to a residential community.  It was raining when we arrived, but stopped soon and we were able to get a good view of the glacier.  We took the one mile Nugget Falls Trail to a large waterfall near the glacier.  There were very few people around, no doubt because of the weather and because it was so early in the season.

A word about viewing photos: Clicking on most of the individual photos will bring up a slightly larger version.  Photos in a gallery can also be enlarged – see instructions in the text preceding the gallery in this post.

Our first view of Mendenhall Glacier; it was a dull day for photos, but we still found this to be a beautiful place to visit:

17May-1

 

There is a nice new Visitor’s Center, which we thought we would visit after our walk.  Unfortunately, it started raining again, so we never made it inside.

Mendenhall Glacier's Visitor's Center

 

We noticed how different the views were, depending on which way you looked.  Turning away from the glacier, you’d never guess there was a frozen wall of ice just a mile away:

17May-2

 

We decided to do the Nugget Falls Trail – this is an easy 1 mile walk along a gravel path.  We didn’t see any bears, although sightings had been reported during the previous days.  It kept threatening to rain, but didn’t start until we were almost back to the parking area.

17May-11

A bear had been seen earlier in the week

You can see how few people there were at the glacier – we saw just three other couples on the trail.  Later in the season, a common complaint is it’s so crowded you can’t enjoy the serenity of this special place.

17May-14

 

Lou enjoyed taking photos of the glacier, but he prefers to focus on smaller details – like this little bird on the side of the path:

17May-31

 

We hung out at the glacier and falls area for about half an hour, just soaking up the strange atmosphere.  We don’t see many glaciers in Florida:

17May-26

 

17May-27

Reluctantly, I even posed for a photo in front of Nugget Falls:

 

 

Here are a few more photos from our visit to the glacier

17May-18

 

We finished out the day by doing a driving tour, taking a brief walk through town, napping, and dinner.  It was raining all afternoon and evening, so we didn’t feel like being outside.  Dinner was at Zen, the “Asian-fusion” restaurant at The Goldbelt;  Lou had lamb and I had halibut – both prepared with an Asian flare.

We couldn’t resist one short walk across to the dock, where we would board the Wilderness Discoverer the next afternoon.  It was enroute to Juneau, but the Wilderness Explorer was still at the dock:

17May-30

5/17: Exploring Juneau

I was up early on Thursday morning, helped by the 4 hour time difference.  I set out at 5am to explore Juneau; it was drizzly and cloudy.

The view of Juneau Harbor from our hotel room

The view of Juneau Harbor from our hotel room

 

The Wilderness Explorer, docked just across from the hotel - this is the boat we would be on for Week No. 3

The Wilderness Explorer, docked just across from the hotel – this is the boat we would be on for Week No. 3

 

Just one of many ravens flying around Juneau

Just one of many ravens flying around Juneau

 

A large mural along the dock

A large mural along the dock

 

A view down the pier - the larger cruise ships dock at the far end

A view down the pier – the larger cruise ships dock at the far end

 

Tracy's King Crab Shack - a popular destination for ......................  Alaskan King Crab

Tracy’s King Crab Shack – a popular destination for …………………. Alaskan King Crab

 

The Red Dog Saloon - another popular tourist attraction. It was too early for a beer at 6am

The Red Dog Saloon – another popular tourist attraction. It was too early for a beer at 6am

 

The Alaskan Brewing Co. store - a good source for souvenir T-shirts.  We would enjoy their brews on the trip.

The Alaskan Brewing Co. store – a good source for souvenir T-shirts. We would enjoy their brews on the trip.

 

Main Street was quiet early in the morning, except for the photobombing ravens

Main Street was quiet early in the morning, except for the photobombing ravens

 

I was back at the hotel before 7am, and Lou was ready for breakfast.  We walked to the Sandpiper Cafe, and had a very good meal.  Food is expensive in Alaska, but we didn’t find it much more than in most resort areas in the US.

The Sandpiper Cafe - good recommendations on Trip Advisor, and a short walk from the hotel

The Sandpiper Cafe – good recommendations on Trip Advisor, and a short walk from the hotel

 

Lou's healthy selection of corned beef hash

Lou’s healthy selection of corned beef hash

 

Lou's healthy selection of Corned Beef Hash

Eggs over medium – the last photo of an egg in this report …

 Note – I like to take food photos, but will try not to overdo it in this report. 

Since we were up early and had a free day, we decided to go to Walmart to get some last minute supplies for the trip.  I had booked a rental car for the day; this was easy since there was an Avis rental counter right at the Goldbelt Hotel.  It was about  a 20 minute drive to Wal Mart, which was out near the airport.  We picked up a supply of cold medicine, ibuprofen, spare reading glasses, sun glasses for Lou, and a few other items.  We didn’t have a cold, but thought it best to be ready since we would be gone for so long.  We also drove around to see if we could find a Verizon store, but no luck (even though they advertised coverage in Juneau, we had no luck with the phones while in Alaska – those darned Apple iPhones).

We could have applied for jobs in Juneau...

We could have applied for jobs in Juneau…

 

5/16: A Very Long Travel Day

We were up early for our 6:15am flight (it was originally at 8:00am when we booked it – thank you, Delta).  Lou pushed the luggage cart across the street from the hotel to the check-in counter, and we were soon on our way.

Lots of camera gear - one suitcase each with our clothes for a month

Lots of camera gear – one suitcase each with our clothes for a month

It took us over 17 hours to get from Bangor, Maine to Juneau, Alaska.  We had a 5 hour layover in Detroit, and 3 hours in Seattle. Our flights went like clockwork – a very slow clock.

The psychedelic moving walkway in Detroit

The psychedelic moving walkway in Detroit

 

We saw more of the Delta Sky Lounge than we wanted

We saw more of the Delta Sky Lounge than we wanted

 

Finally leaving Seattle

Finally leaving Seattle

 

Flying into the sunset

Flying into the sunset

 

We landed in Juneau at 9pm AK time (4 hours ahead of ME time)

We landed in Juneau at 9pm AK time (4 hours ahead of ME time)

 

The Goldbelt Hotel - not fancy, but fine for our weary bodies - it's still not totally dark at 9pm

The Goldbelt Hotel – not fancy, but fine for our weary bodies – it’s still not totally dark at 9pm

We were met in Juneau by a representative of Un-Cruise who drove us to our hotel.  We were both asleep shortly after checking in.

 

Our Ultra Alaska Trip – May/June 2013

Lou planned a month long trip to Alaska for us in celebration of my 60th Birthday.  Our itinerary included 3 Weeks of Un-Cruising the Inside Passage, and a week long land tour to Denali National Park.  Un-Cruise Adventures  is the name of the cruise line; we will be cruising on small ships with no more than 76 passengers and 20+ crew members.  The style is informal, and the itinerary subject to change depending on what the day brings.  The tour Lou chose is called the Ultra Adventure and we start our cruising in Juneau, Alaska.  Our vacation started May 16th, and ended June 15th.

Tripmap

 

Introduction: Travel Day, Juneau & Mendenhall Glacier

Week 1:  Inner Reaches Eastern Coves; Juneau to Ketchikan on the Wilderness Discoverer

Week 2: Inner Reaches Western Coves; Ketchikan to Juneau on the Wilderness Discoverer

Week 3: Northern Passages and Glacier Bay; Juneau to Sitka on the Wilderness Explorer

Week 4: Land Tour – Alaska Railroad, Denali National Park and Redoubt Bay; Sitka/Fairbanks/Denali/Anchorage

(To read about just one portion of our trip, you can go to the Site Navigation page and click on a category or post, or just click on the links above)

The trip was booked over 18 months in advance, and we had some unexpected events occur during the interim period.  We adopted Stitch, our second Cocker Spaniel just 6 weeks before we were due to leave for Alaska.  We also purchased a house in Maine, where we will be spending our summers.  These events combined almost made us postpone the trip, but our good friend Mij saved the trip.  Mij took time off from her life in Arizona, and flew to Maine to take care of the dogs and the house.

Life was hectic in the weeks preceding the trip, since we had to drive 2 Cocker Spaniels from Florida to Maine, move into a new house, and pack for Alaska.  With help from friends, we managed to get everything done, and we were on our way …

Our flight from Bangor, Maine departed at 6:15am, so we opted to stay at the airport hotel the night before our trip.  We said our goodbyes to Mij and the pups as we hopped in the limo (an aging mini-van) for our hour ride to Bangor:

 

15May-1

Natasha & Stitch – “Hey, what about us?” (They were getting a haircut the next day)

15May-2

Mij waves goodbye – we know everything is in good hands. Thank you, Mij!!!

This blog will give you the highlights of our trip.  There will be lots of photos.  I (Sharon) will be narrating, and the story will be told from our perspective, but I will also include a few photos from the Un-Cruise photo share site to give you a view of activities outside our comfort zone.  Once we get into the Un-Cruise portion of the trip, I’ll be sharing photos of our fellow passengers.  For privacy reasons, I won’t be including names.  If anyone sees their photo here and doesn’t approve – please let me know and I’ll quickly take care of it.

(Note:  The dates in this report coincide with our travel dates, but this report was published in November, 2013.)