The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hi from Juneau, Alaska

Odysseus and I rode the Marine Highway Ferry System from Haines to Juneau last night. It turns out that riding those ferrys is not all that expensive, and it is the only way to get to the cities in Southeast Alaska. Imagine, a capital city that the governor can only get to by ferry or flying.

Here is the ferry we rode. When it came our turn, I was to ride Odysseus down that blue ramp into the car deck and then tie him down so he couldn't fall over as the ship moved with the waves.

We were right at the front of the line but, as usual, we were the very last to get on board. That's OK though. Last on; first off.

These two are the rarest of all animals, the Bicycularis idiosis.  I saw people riding heavily loaded bicycles all over Alaska, just huffing and puffing up the mountains, miles from anywhere, and making hardly any time. I remember when Patrice and I did exactly the same thing on our bicycles in the British Isles years ago. Now, when we see someone traveling by bike, we just shake our heads and say "never again".

I have used a lot of superlative adjectives in describing this summer's trip, but all of them fall a little short when applied to Alaska's Inland Waterway. I sat in the observation lounge at the front of the ship and watched in awe, with sheer mountains on the left, covered with snow and dripping waterfalls, and mountainous islands on the right, equally beautiful. Everyone kept an eagle eye out for sea otters, whales, eagles . . . . I wish I had pictures to do it justice.

It was nearing midnight when we got to Juneau and I got Odysseus off the ferry. I had booked the Alaska Hotel in town sight unseen from the Juneau travel brochure. I had a terrible time negotiating the one-way streets to find the place. I finally located it in the downtown tavern district. I parked in front, looked at the drunks standing around, bottles in their hands, and immediately started having second thoughts about the historic Alaska  Hotel. To get into the place, I had to go through the packed saloon. The night manager showed me my room, a dreary place with throbbing music from the bar coming up through the floor. I left at once, and started hotel hopping until I found a cheap place ($178.00) a few miles away. Whew.

But here is the same area in the daytime. It is a mecca of shops and ice cream stores for the tourists off the huge cruise ships in the harbor.

And here is one of the huge cruise ships. I am in awe at how enormous those things are. It holds more people than the population of my home city, Mt. Carmel.

The sea plane was one of several I watched take off and land in the harbor, ferrying people out to see the icefield that hangs over Juneau. I am camped at one of the tongues of the icefield, Mendenhall Glacier. It is very pretty there, and only $5.00 per night, including showers, so I am happy.

Juneau is in the big tempertate rainforest that covers southeast Alaska. I spent a good part of the day hiking in the rainforest. It is hard to get pictures in there, but I did get a pretty good shot of this guy. Do you know what he is?

Give up? He is a Cedar Waxwing. Don't get to see many of them at home, and those we do see look a little different.

I can't resist putting another shot of a wild animal on here for you. Yep, it's me. I'm up on a hill overlooking the city. Time for me to put myself to bed. I have to be at the ferry no later than 5 a.m. tomorrow to catch my ride to Glacier Bay. At least it is dark a little while at night now, so I plan to sleep well. Hope the bears stay away. I plan to keep my bear spray handy.

Next report will be when I get back from Glacier Bay. So, bye for now.


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