mothers day

Monday, September 15, 2008

North to Alaska - Tuesday

Warning - Lots of pictures ahead!! Tuesday was a big day . Ed was with us that day - YEAH!! Here is our ship at Juneau - bright and colorful- we started early on Tuesday - we docked in Juneau at 7 am (That would be Pacific time but not daylight time) and we caught a bus about 10 am. We played in Juneau until about 1 pm and then we headed up the Endicott arm to Sawyer Glacier which we reached about 4 pm and then on the Daws Glacier - we got there about 8 pm. Ed said he took about 200 pictures just of the cruise up Endicott - about five hours worth of picture taking. I have picked out ONLY the very best. The bus took us about 15 miles north of the city of Juneau to the Mendenhal glacier. When we got to the glacier site we first walked through some beautiful temperate rainforest past a stream where we got to see salmon swimming upstream. It was fascinating to see - some of the salmon were still swimming very strongly - others were struggling to get over or around some submerged branches and still others were half rotted already as they were swimming or trying to swim upstream towards their birthplace. I hadn't realized they would be at different stages of health as they headed upstream - but I guess that is why there aren't heaps of dead fish at the headwaters of each stream...they said they can SMELL which bay and inlet and stream they need to swim up - from thousands and thousand of miles of water!

I had to take a picture of this sign...I have NEVER been anywhere that had trails closed to bear activity in my whole life. But with the salmon spawning the bears are real active all along the rivers - and so the forest service simply closes the trails off to protect the people from coming upon a bear.
Here's a picture of Ed in his Cabela's hat that I won for him the day before. It was really handy because whenever we got lost I would just look for that bright yellow hat!
The day was cloudy and rainy and cool - you can see I had my lightweight coat on over a long sleeved sweater and I pulled out the gloves for a while too. But it wasn't COLD...just cool.
This is a picture of the Mendenhal glacier - Most of the glaciers we saw were dirty on top, but at the edge you could see the beautiful turquoise blue color - they explained that glaciers absorb all the colors of the spectrum except for the blue - that is why they are such a gorgeous color.
This is a picture you will want to double click on to get the full benefit of the beauty of the picture - this is what Alaska is all about - mountains and bays and greenery with a glacier and waterfalls too. It is so beautiful. I would recommend this cruise to anyone. We are a bit older and didn't take full advantage of all the fun tours available but we talked to people that biked and hiked the glaciers and mountains and cruised and rowed the rivers and bays. There were ziplines that took you down a whole mountain in 15 seconds flat (that sounded as fun to me as snorkeling in 40 degree waters!! - they said they hooked them up and a trapdoor dropped open beneath their feet and ZOOM!! - No thank you - I will be happy with my bus tour to Mendenhal Glacier with a salmon bake afterward!! We spent about two and a half hours at the Glacier National Park taking lots of pictures, wandering the path, and watching the movie telling us all about the park
After we left the Mendenhal Glacier we headed back toward Juneau (and back past the Walmart!!) to a fun and delicious outdoor bar-b-que. We didn't take any pictures of the eating area but it was interesting - outdoor - countrystyle seating all under canopies. So if it was raining we could stay dry. We immediately headed for the hot chocolate and then got in line for the delicious bar b qued Alaskan Salmon. OOOOOOoooooohhhhhh it was sooo good. And this is from me - someone that doesn't usually care for fish. They had lots and lots of delicious food - all you can eat and the busses kept pulling up and dropping off another group - so their weren't big lines and there was plenty of space to sit but LOT's of people got fed. Our only complaint (?) was that we didn't realize until we were through eating that the middle areas had big heat lamps under the canopy - so they were warmer. Again - it was probably 58 degrees - cool but not cold.
After we finished eating we walked up to the old gold mine about a quarter of a mile up the path. As you can see, we are still in a temperate rainforest and it was a beautiful walk. This is part of the old waterworks that dredged up sand out of the stream that they then would wash for gold. They explained that in Alaska gold was never found in nugget form but rather due to the Glacier grinding all of the gold down to simple gold dust. Then we caught another bus back to the ship - it pulled out of Juneau about 1:30.

The tv station that kept us updated as to where we were going and when we headed out to Sawyer Glacier that we were supposed to arrive at ab out 4 pm. Dad and Ed and I headed to the Versaille restaurant for a delicious lunch and then headed back to our staterooms. We napped and read for a while and Ed headed up to the 12th level of the ship to take pictures and enjoy the lovely weather (NOT!) I stayed in the stateroom where it was much warmer and finally I knocked on dad's door and told him I was heading up at 3:45 and dad said he was ready to go up too. We got up on deck while it was still cloudy and rainy and miserable but within 15 minutes it started clearing up. When we first got on deck we heard an announcement from the captain saying that usually they went up Tracy Arm instead of Endicott arm but due to the weather he thought the Endicott arm would prove a better trip for us. Then he said "because the weather is so beautiful" and everyone looked at each other and said "rain, clouds, beautiful??" He must have been watching the doppler because the day simply got prettier and prettier - and the cruise up Endicott arm was so smooth and one of the highlights of our trip. .
Take a look at the pictures above - that is the Sawyer Glacier and we did arrive there right at 4 pm! It is what is called a hanging glacier because it doesn't reach all the way down to the water
This was just one of the gorgeous views as we cruised up the arm. It is another fiord - cut through the centuries by glaciers. WE saw beautiful waterfals everywhere we looked - plus the forests - they said that it is empty of everything except forests and animals. No people!
One of the icebergs floating in the water - again take note of the pristine blue.
The closer we got to the Daws glacier the more icebergs there were ahead of us. And yes the way got narrower and narrower.
It was so fun to find the seals sunning themselves on the ice flows!

Ed got this picture after we left the Daws glacier and headed back down the Endicott arm. The shadows from the mountains and the bay created a picture that would win prizes!! The final picture (video) below is one taken by grandpa of the Daws glacier. None of our pictures can give you a true feeling of the awe and amazement of this piece of nature. But I thought I needed to put at least one of our video clips in. Sadly enough the whole time I was taking pictures of our cruise up the Endicott arm past all the waterfalls and all the forests and all the mountains and all of the icebergs and all of the glaciers...I had my camera on video - so as I clicked to take the picture I would then drop the camera and it would still be going and I would get pictures of everyones legs and blurred comments!! DUH!! So all of these pictures that you have seen were taken by Edward.

I think this was a video taken by Grandpa Merritt.


Kristanne said...

The pictures are absolutely gorgeous. If they don't give you a true feeling about it, they still make me want to go. I think a zip line would be fun - course I have only been on a teeny tiny one. --

melissa said...

Wow that looks amazing! Im glad you guys had a fun vacation!

Melinda said...

Beautiful pictures! I would love to take a cruise to Alaska, or anywhere, actually.

And I'll sit out the zipline with you, Susan. We'll wave at Kris as she goes past.