Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alaskan Cruise - Juneau

Our 3rd port stop was Juneau.

This is what the town looked like as we arrived and...

what it looked like as we rode the tram up the mountain. Tickets were $26.00 each and we were told not to buy them in advance because if it was cloudy, it was not worth riding it. Now that I have been there, I am not too sure about that..

Once atop the tram ride (approx. 1800') there is a wonderful restaurant, gift stores that sell authentic Alaskan made items, an eagle who lives there because she was injured and a nature center. I almost bought a beautiful ulu knife here with a hand carved wood handle for $140.00 and later you will see why I am glad I did not. Behind those buildings is where we found the hiking trails.

Mount Roberts was another 3 miles hike. We were not sure we would make it that far, but wanted to get a bit of hiking in while we were there... with back packs strapped on full of water, cameras and other supplies, we set off. This is Father Brown's Cross. It was a very beautiful picture with the city down below.

It always strikes me how such a frigid place can produce some of the most wonderful flora!

These looked like Texas Bluebonnets.. only HUGE!

We found ourselves at the right place at the right time to see this..

..young man getting ready to parachute off of the mountain.

Honestly, I started to wonder if he was really going to do it..

..until I turned around and saw this!

The scenery was beautiful..

There was still a lot of snow on the mountain in certain areas.

The higher we hiked, the rougher the path became and at times it was hard to even find a path!

..but the higher we climbed, the better the scenery became as well, which is why we kept going. Enlarge this photo to see then commercial airline below us!

I kept asking Don if he wanted to turn back.. but he said no.. we had come this far and he wanted to see the top. By now, not only was the terrain starting to change, but we were getting swarmed by misquito's! Thankfully we had our bug spray in our back packs.

Then it changed again. All of a sudden there were no more trees.. and we were being watched!

Still not exactly sure what this character is.. but he kept his eye on us!

He must have had quite an elaborate home.. because there were 'doors' everywhere!

Once we reached the peak, the views were just magnificent. All I could do was stand there and try and take it all in. Pictures do not do it justice. From this point we could go no further without boot crampons and ropes. We could see mountain ranges behind mountain ranges. I know about the song that proclaims What a Wonderful World... but all I could think was that if our world (so full of sin) is this beautiful.. what must be waiting for us in heaven!

I credit this climb to Don. The last 500 feet were straight up. We did not have any specialty climbing equipment with us and I even lost my footing once and slid down on my butt.. but he kept encouraging me and we kept going. I am so glad we did!!

You would think after all of that .. we would have been exhausted.. well yes - we were and we were hungry too. It took us 3 hours to climb up and 1 hour to get down. By the time we reached the tram tower, we were racing each other to get to the restaurant! They served (hands down) the best sandwich I have ever eaten.. A salmon club sandwich made with home made bread toasted in butter...YUMMMMM Wish I had taken a picture of it.. but I ate it before the thought even crossed my mind!

We rode the tram back down to sea level and found the 'blue bus' which goes to Mendenhall Glacier Park ($16.00 ea). The city bus ($1.50 ea) goes to the street that goes to the park.. but you would still have a mile+ walk before you reached it. By this time, we were running on fumes.. so we opted for the blue bus!

This is the visitors center.

This is Mendenhall Glacier...

..and the falls..

It was massive.. and forceful.. and a lot of fun!

Don went back to the boat and I went shopping. It was here where I found the oldest trading post in the city, with what I believe was the largest selection of carved ivory (legal walrus tusk and jaw bone ivory) I have ever seen. I purchased a small whale. This store by itself was an attraction. They carries everything you could imagine .. all genuine products.. even an 8' hand carved totem pole!

I also found a WONDERFUL shop that sold Alpaca goods. Oh my gosh.. I wanted one of their sweaters.. but at a cost of $300+ each , I just could not talk myself into it, especially after already treating myself to the souvenier that I knew I wanted - the ivory whale which was just over $200.00. I did however, purchase a pair of lovely knit alpaca wool fingerless gloves for about $32.00. I treasure them!

I will do a post in a few days showing all of my souveniers and as much store information as I have.

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