September 9, 2003--Juneau

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347A 347 348 349 353 356 360
361 362 363 364 372 374 375
376 379 380 382 384 385 386
387 388 389 390 394 396 397
398 399 400 401 402 403 404
407 408 409 412 413 414 415
416 417 418 419 420 421 424
426 427 428 429 431 432 433
434 436 437 438 439


A Scottish tourist on the Canadian Rockies part of the tour told us he came to Alaska to see the "wheels."  We weren't sure what he meant until we realized he meant the whales of Alaska.  In Juneau, we planned a busy day with two shore excursions, including one to see the "wheels."


After posing with our moose friend when getting off the ship (347A), we left to see the whales.  We boarded a catamaran especially built for whale watching (402) and went out several miles to try our luck.  Once in the whale area, we saw whale after whale as one can see from all of the photographs (349-396).  The problem in photographing them is that one is never too sure where they will appear and they don't stay above the water for long.  That day we saw numerous Humpback and Orca (Killer) Whales.  In the pictures, the humpbacks are about twice as long as the orcas and the orcas have the large dorsal fin (374).


The ship then moved to another spot where we saw an island full of sea lions and harbor seals (360-364).  We did not get close enough to them since most ships observe an environmentally approved distance but we understand there would be quite a smell up close.


In the afternoon, we embarked on another excursion, stopping first at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery (403-409) which was much larger than the hatchery we visited in Ketchikan the day before.  Here they incubate 170 million eggs per year and eventually release the salmon into the sea.  They are gone for several years but, in time, 1-2% of them return to this area.  The amazing fact we heard is that salmon are able to remember the smell of the river they came from; upon their return, they pick up the scent from 200 miles away.


This hatchery also had a stunning aquarium inside (412-414) containing numerous exotic fish.


Once we escaped from the bear (415), we headed for the Mendenhall Glacier (420-433) but first stopped at the nearby Chapel by the Lake (416-419), a log church with a spectacular view of the glacier.  Many weddings are performed in this church.  It is hard to tell from the photos above, but imagine a wedding couple standing in front of the window in the front of the church with the Mendenhall Glacier view through the window.


From there we went directly to the Mendenhall Glacier, one of 38 glaciers flowing from the Juneau Icefield. One may note blue ice when looking at some photos of this glacier and others later on this website.  Glacial ice absorbs all colors except blue which it transmits.


Once back in downtown Juneau (434-439), we made a stop at the Red Dog Saloon (436-437), truly a bar with character.  Sawdust on the floor was about three inches deep and we really felt the Alaskan experience there.  The bar originated in the mining era and, today, does a large mail order business in addition to its bar revenues.


As a capital, Juneau is very remote and cannot be reached by road.  It would seem more logical to move the capital to the much larger Anchorage but several attempts to do so have failed.  It retains lots of character and is a beautifully situated capital, even if isolated.

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