Monday 6 September 2010

Day 10 – Juneau It’s A National Holiday, Right?

Happy Labor Day everybody and welcome to Juneau! We’ve officially reached state number eight: Alaska! Taking our first steps off the boat after a day and a half at sea was just what our sea legs needed, especially considering the rocky night we had (Egh, it was a roughen!). Despite only having access by air or sea the Alaskans still chose Juneau to be their capital and even though the cruise ship tourists are a huge part of their income, they also celebrate Labor day so the city’s public services were closed.
We had hoped to use the free internet in the library and catch a local bus to do a tour of a salmon hatchery, but alas these services were not available. No biggy though, we still found plenty to do to occupy our time. Nope, not that skyway tram thing you see below, that was $27 with a big queue. No thank you!
So, we started with a trip to Mendenhall Glacier instead. Our cruise offers a bunch of different excursions for each port of call, but they are ridiculously overpriced. The cheapest one going to the glacier was $45 per person, but I discovered there was actually a local company that runs a bus there and back every half hour for $14. Hum, guess which option we chose? Thrifty wins the day!
When we arrived we made our way to the salmon viewing platform. They have a lot of bears out there in the wilds of Alaska so apparently there’s a good chance of spotting one or two catching their fishy lunch. Not today though! Nevermind, we still got to see some pretty big salmon and at least there was a hint that bears had been around by all the dead fish on the streams banks. Ick!
The glacier itself was beautiful and even though it looks freezing, it was a warm sunny day. Our bus driver said we lucked out as they’ve only had 12 days of sunshine in the last year and yesterday it had been raining. Good timing for us!
There were a lot of hiking trails around the glacier, but the most popular one leads to a stunning waterfall. Not wanting to miss out on the wonder of nature, we set about getting some exercise. As we were walking Joe laid down some knowledge about the glaciers ice: ‘you know if you lick that shit, you’re licking stuff that predates dinosaurs’. Not five minutes later he did just that and I was more than a little disgusted!
Up close, Nugget Falls is just stunning. It drops from such a height that it makes most waterfalls I’ve seen look puny. The best part is you can get right up close to it, making for some great shots.

After our brush with nature we headed back to town to visit the Red Dog Saloon. Famous for once hosting ‘dancing’ ladies, its claim to fame now is Wyatt Earp’s gun, that proudly sits behind the bar. We stopped in and had our first tipple of the trip, enjoying the country singer that entertained with a funny song about no longer looking good naked. It seemed like a pretty good bet the song was autobiographical.
Alcohol finished with, we joined the rest of the cruise tourists on the pursuit of tacky memorabilia - because if you don’t get at least something that says Alaska on it however will you know you were there? I know every time I put a mug on our new Alaskan coasters I’ll remember Juneau fondly!
One purchase I had to make though was an overdue leaving gift from my nan. She’d made me promise to buy some jewellery that I could keep as a token from her in celebration of me leaving England. I’d taken my time with this particular task as I wanted something special. Both Joe and I fell in love with the official stone of Alaska today - jade - so I chose a necklace and earrings to mark the occasion. Thanks nan, hope you approve!
Time to head back out to sea!

So, until tomorrow…

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