Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 4 PM- Wednesday May 15

 Wednesday afternoon found us in Juneau, the capital of Alaska.  We were both surprised at how small it was and how it was situated at the foot of a mountain.


 I stood by this bear not realizing that later that day I would be next to a real black bear!
 We really wanted to see the Mendenhall Glacier, so we booked a tour bus and headed a few minutes out of town to the glacier.  The day was spectacular and so clear and the glacier was stunning.

 It doesn't look very big here, but it is extremely deep.

 My hair took on a life of its own on this day.  Not sure why I have an afro look going on!

 Nugget Falls.  See the people in front of the Falls?  This was a huge waterfall.

 Blue Ice

 Gorgeous scenery.  After viewing the glacier, we decided to walk back to the visitors center.  Paul was walking several feet in front of me (as usual) and I was deep in thought, just taking in the beautiful scenery in front of me.  There was a lot of people walking around, both in front of me and behind me.  All of a sudden, I saw a big black bear run in front of me, about 6 feet away.  I was shocked.  I entertained the thought that maybe this was a joke- maybe someone had dressed up like a bear to give people a thrill.  I was puzzled why no one had seemed to see the bear but me.  These thoughts all took place in about 10 seconds.  "PAUL!" I finally yelled.  He jerked around and looked at me and I said, "A bear ran in front of me".

I could tell by his face he did not believe me.  He couldn't figure out where it had come from since we were right by the visitors center.  "Well, where is it?"  I pointed where it had run, down over the side of a small ravine.  He went over there and sure enough, there was a big black bear looking back at him.  He turned around and said, "YEAH! YOU DID SEE A BEAR!"  At that point I climbed the stairs to the visitor center, away from the bear and he took the camera and followed the bear around.  I was still in shock!

 It seems this bear had just come out of hibernation and all he wanted to do was eat.
 He was trying to get away from all the people and got caught between this fence and a few people.

 So he decided to climb over the fence and get to the woods where he could eat.

 Of course by this time everyone around had seen him and many were following him. I was safely away, watching from a distance.
 That bear gave us quite a thrill.  Come to find out, people who were the tour bus with us also saw a mama bear and 2 cubs.  There was a lot of "bear" talk on the bus ride back to Juneau.

 After we arrived back into Juneau, we walked around the town for a while.  We saw this beautiful sled dog downtown.  I thought he or she was so pretty.
The sun setting over Juneau.

After we walked around, we headed back to the ship for a wonderful dinner.  We had surf and turf and it was amazing.  After dinner we sat in the hot tub at the back of the ship and watched as we sailed away from Juneau.  We were tired out from this busy day and went to bed soon after.  Tomorrow we would be in Skagway, the farthest north we would travel in Alaska.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 4 AM-Wednesday, May 15

 Wednesday morning we woke up bright and early, bundled up and headed up to the deck.  The ship was traveling down a fjord, a narrow channel carved out by a glacier melting over hundreds of years.  This was unlike anything we had ever experienced before.  The only way into this fjord was by boat or by flying overhead.  The sides were steep cliffs and the water was dotted with blue icebergs. (They are not really blue but because of their density, they only reflect the blue.  Or something like that. :)
 It was gray and drizzly, but still absolutely stunning.

 I wondered if the big cruise ship would fit down this narrow passage, but it did with no problems.

 There were several waterfalls along the way.  We were headed to Sawyer Glacier, at the end of Tracey Arm.

 This iceberg was very blue.

 It was cold, but that didn't deter us.  At one point it was even lightly snowing.

 And there it was.  The light blue is Sawyer glacier.  A glacier is simply a frozen river that does not thaw.  It is deceptive, because this glacier is over a mile deep.

 It was so still and so quiet and so beautiful.
 Sawyer Island.

 After we got as close as safely possible to the glacier, that big ship turned around in that small area and we headed out.  We were so cold, so we headed in, warmed up and took a little nap before lunch.  We were headed to Juneau in the early afternoon.

 This was the ship's naturalist, Kathy Slamp.  She grew up in Alaska and was an excellent speaker.  We made sure and attend every one of her talks.  This day she gave a talk about the Klondike gold rush- another interesting part of history. 
I bought both of her books and finished the first one before the cruise ended and finished the second shortly after we got home.  She made the cruise so interesting and informative for us.  After her talk, we took another nap.  (Hey, we were on vacation!) and then got ready to head out and explore Juneau.