Haines to Juneau

Friday, July 31, 2009
Juneau, Alaska, United States
Took the Alaska Marine Ferry to Juneau. The ferry was only about ¼ full so we had our choice of seats; however, we stood outside in the back most of the time hoping to spot a whale—no such luck. The scenery was wonderful.

The campground is in the most beautiful woods—moss covered the entire ground; it was like walking on a sponge. There are nine sites that have 50 amp, water, electric, sewer; really big sites. (made reservations 6 months ago). There were lots of empty sites during our time here. 

                                Juneau - August 1-9

The Mendenhall Glacier is the main attraction in Juneau, and it is impressive! The campground is on the other side of the Mendenhall Lake across from the glacier. At the lakeside park, there are great views of the lake, glacier, and icebergs.

Mendenhall Visitor Center was very crowded with people from the cruise ships' tour buses. The film about glaciers is ok; poor picture quality. The views of the glacier are magnificent. The first time we were there, saw people on the glacier--through the telescope.

There were lots of sockeye salmon in Steep Creek. Because of the bear activity, only a small part of the boardwalk trail was open. The two times we were here during the day, we didn’t see any bears. One evening we went around 8:00 p.m. Saw four different black bears—young one eating salmon right below the boardwalk; another walked along the creek a little further upstream—saw it get a salmon and go into the grass; another one walked right under the bridge where everyone was standing; another one in the tree. Awesome!

Hiked to Nugget Falls,  which was an easy walk; muddy in some places because of the rain. Being right next to the falls was definitely worth the walk.

Took the Tracy Arm Fjord tour with Adventure Bound on the Captain Cook, which is about a ten-hour trip. The day started out partially sunny so we had good views; on the way back it was hazier. The man we were next to in Haines was on this boat with friends that have been to Alaska several times and have traveled all over the world; they thought the Tracey Arm Fjord was the best one they have seen, even compared to those in Norway. On the way saw a humpback whale. The Arm is quite narrow and there are dramatic views of the mountains coming straight down; every turn produced a different view. There were lots of waterfalls and icebergs. Then we got to the remarkable view of Sawyer Glacier; the boat had to go through lots of ice and got really close—about 500 yards from the glacier. We could hear the ice rubbing against the bottom of the boat. Two big huge pieces caved off; the waves from it were awesome; it made the water and ice look like a piece of wavy glass. The blue color of the icebergs and glacier was incredible. The boat went up close to several incredible waterfalls. One place he put the bow of the boat right under the falls. The boat went close to all the seals floating on the ice pieces. Went right next to the solid rock wall where the guillemot pigeons with red feet go into crevices in the rock. On the way back, we were fortunate to see humpback whales breaching over and over again; one was right next to the boat—WOW! The captain said he only sees this once or twice a season. Could even hear their calls to each other and blowing when they surfaced. This was the most fantastic tour boat trip we have ever taken.

Downtown are all the shops, which are always fun to browse. Talked to the owner of the gift shop in Merchants Mall; she is a cousin to the people we were next to in Haines. Her shop is full of really nice items. She lives in Juneau and gave us information about what to do and see while we’re here. Looked at some of the historical buildings: Governor’s house, St Nicholas Russian Church

Drove out Thane Road to end.

Watched native Alaskans catching chum/dog salmon just before the salmon hatchery; they were cooking them right away.

Lots of chum salmon at Sheep Creek. The boys catching them said they weren’t very good to eat.

Walked part of Perseverance Trail to the Ebner Waterfall; stunning views across the gorge!

On our way to Montana Creek, we had a glimpse of a black bear crossing the road. Before we were able to get a really good view, it went into woods. Didn’t see a bear at the creek

Macaulay Salmon Hatchery was very interesting. Tons of salmon in the fish ladder. Watched the workers moving salmon into the processing area and putting King Salmon into a separate area. They squeeze out the eggs from the salmon to increase the success rate. Inside there is a fish tank and gift shop.

Alaska Brewing Company
was a great place to sample beer. Instead of tours, a man that worked there since the beginning of the company gave a great talk about how it got started. In the middle of his talk, he took a break for more samples. He was a great story teller; thoroughly enjoyed this!

      Drove Glacier Highway.

Stopped at Lena Cove to walk along the shore; beautiful views of the cove.

The Shrine of Saint Therese has gorgeous grounds overlooking the water. Walked through the labyrinth, the gardens and the Columbine memorial; lots of beautiful flowers. Saw the fins of Orca whales in distance.

Jensen-Olson Arboretum is a short ride up the road. This is a picture-perfect place overlooking the bay with beds of magnificent flowers, which are all labeled. Saw Orcas again.

At Eagle Beach there were lots of salmon in the river. There was a placard explaining the rosette that forms at the ends of the branches of the Willow tree; it’s a deformity that is caused by an insect. In fall it turns red.

City Museum had very interesting items and displays about Juneau’s history. The intricate handle on the spoon carved out of a goat’s horn was remarkable.

Tried several different restaurants:

Red Dog Saloon--good food; loved the decor.

Twisted Fish—tempura rock fish was good; halibut had too much breading and wasn’t very good.

Pizzaria Roma—the crust had spicy red pepper seasoning; it was just ok pizza; wouldn’t get it again.

Southeast Waffle Co.—very good; their internet was very slow so all we did was check email.

We had to get up at 4:30 am to go to the ferry for out trip to Sitka. Lois was in the jeep and pulled over near the front of the campground and a black bear walked right around the jeep and down the road. Guess you do have to get up early to see bears.
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