Thursday, August 26, 2010

Juneau, AK- Ferry rides and sightseeing

Sat Aug 21st – We rode the “marine highway” – the name they give the state ferry system -  from Haines to Juneau. There is room for cars, RV’s, trucks and more, but we had decided to leave the camper in Haines, and just pay the walk-on rate.


This is a picture of the Malisapina coming into port. it is not a blurry pic, it was just very foggy that morning.


The ferry is a rather large boat, which resembles a small cruise ship. it has a dining area, a video playroom, a small movie theatre where they show movies, and a gift shop.There are also berths that you can rent for the night on extended trips. The ferry has several large lounges, like this one, with quite large and roomy chairs. This lounge looks out the front windows of the ship. We sat up front, and it was like being in your living room, but having a beautiful view slowly cruising by. Our ferry ride was 4.5 hrs to Juneau, but you could go from Haines all the way south to Prince Rupert in 2.5 days.

The ferry to Juneau travels through the Lynn Canal. The Lynn Canal, is really a fjord (which I have learned is just a wide, glacial valley with the characteristic steep sides, but the bottom is under water and connects to the sea). This fjord is 700-800 feet deep!


The views, as we cruised the Inside Passage, were beautiful!


This lighthouse is the only original lighthouse in this area that has not had any remodeling done.


This is our first view of Mendenhall Glacier, coming into Juneau.


Notice that the glacier has an upper and lower part visible in the pic. Mendenhall makes an S shape as it curls down from the mountain.

When we arrived at Juneau, we checked into the Silver Bow Inn (again, I can’t believe that I didn’t get a picture). The Silver Bow Inn is located just above the oldest continuously run bakery in Alaska.  : )  Our room was nice, and the Inn was right down town – walking distance to a few areas to sightsee. We decided to stay within the downtown area and not head out to see Mendenhall Glacier, which was about 11 miles outside of town.



This is St Nicholas Russian orthodox Church (established 1894). Note the beautiful original icons on the front wall.



Downtown Juneau had the capital building and legislative buildings (somewhat unassuming) and several older, original buildings that had been converted into shops. Further towards the waterfront (where up to 5 cruise ships can dock) were several blocks of souvenir type gift shops and jewelry stores. It was disappointing to learn that 70 percent of these stores are owned by the cruise lines and were built just for the cruise ship tourist trade. We were told that 2 days after the last cruise ship leaves, the stores are boarded up and the last several blocks of the downtown are not even cleared of snow in the winter.  We don’t much care for all the tourist hype.

After looking around downtown, we took the aerial tram up to Mt. Roberts. It was a fun few minutes of travel and overlook of the city.


On top of Mt. Roberts, we hiked a short trail and watched a very good film on the Tlinglet Indians. Then we had a wonderful dinner of smoked salmon on a Caesar salad and crab legs……… VERY good. It was fun to soak up the excitement of a city……….just a bit.

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