How many whales are enough?
Further to my last post, with the painter working with a 12 inch roller, we awoke in Juneau to find a curious sight outside our window: that of a long pole moving up and down. Normally, when on deck 9, one wouldn’t expect to see anything but a fine view through the window and we do get a little casual about opening the curtains in all states of dress/undress after a few days as a result. On that morning, I was dressed and respectable, so opened the French doors and peered over the side to find a couple of painters working on the deck below. They’d secured a rope ladder and a small platform and were working with harnesses high above the water - rather them than me! But maintaining the paintwork is a priority, not only for cosmetic reasons but also to prevent rust. The slightest break in the paint surface lets in that saltwater and in no time at all, there’s an ugly brown patch appearing. As a result, there are always painters working here or there - not that I’ve seen them dangling over the side before like this, though.
Now, where were we? Oh yes, Juneau. Capital of Alaska and possibly the place we both remembered most clearly from our last visit. With the morning to ourselves and the ship parked right there downtown, we wasted no time in going ashore and taking a look around.
First stop was the tourist office, where the stamp collecting hobby has taken off as well. Had I but taken more notice of that round stamp we might have gained an extra point in the Trivia later on as well - the state flower of Alaska is the Forget Me Not.
Having completely lost track of the days, it was only on seeing the quiet streets that we realised it was Sunday. Not only that, it was Mothers’ Day too - double reason for everywhere being closed.
We’d remembered it as being a quaint little place, capital or no. Less touristy than other Alaskan ports, this was clearly a business town as well and we spent a while in the bookshop just around the corner. Not everywhere was closed!
The special feature of Juneau is the way the green landscape comes right down into the town. The woods and the water are never far away in Alaska.
And just to get a feel of the size of the place, I took this photo from the far side of the town centre - not very far at all!
If I turn around on the spot having taken the previous photograph, right behind me is the Alaskan State Capitol building, closed today but open on the last occasion we were here. There in front of the building, with the papers in his hand is William Seward, the politician who negotiated the Alaska purchase from Russia in 1867.
In that same little corner park is a rather fine bear with a nice catch too.
Across the road from here was a small museum, open today and worth an hour of our time, needless to say. I took some nice photos of exhibits but since I agreed they were for my own personal use, I’ll simply share a more general view and recommend you visit when you are next in Juneau!
After all, how else might we have learned that the matchbook was first made and patented here in Juneau, Alaska?
Time was marching on and we wanted to get a bite to eat before setting off on our afternoon tour. Still, we had five minutes to stand and watch the floatplanes loading and taking off on their flightseeing tours.
We’d done this the last time we were here, flying to a salmon hatchery to watch the bears fishing. This time, we’d chosen to take a small group tour with a photographer but had notice a couple of days later that it had been cancelled and our booking transferred to our second choice: wildlife watching and a close up visit to the Mendenhall glacier.
On such a glorious day, where better to sit and enjoy lunch?
It was a short drive to Auke Bay where our wildlife watching would begin.
Yes…all rather familiar by now. But that landscape was stunning and we had no complaints whatsoever.
There was plenty of room for all, it was a glorious afternoon and we were happy to sit back and enjoy it all.
Just like the seals!
Yes, there were whales about. But you know how it is with whales. It was enough to simply know they were there.
But their presence got everyone up top and out into the fresh air. Maybe we’d see the classic tail in the air? (We didn’t)
The orca was swimming on my side though!
Every one of these tours was special for a different reason and the time of day made this one especially so. We hadn’t set off till almost 2pm and by now it was getting on for 5.30. The light was changing and we were heading back to the harbour when I took some of my favourite photographs.
The staff on board had drawn our route on the map so that we could snap a picture as we left - a clever idea that would have been useful on our earlier trips too.
Before returning to the ship we had one last call at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Centre. Having missed seeing the Hubbard Glacier from the ship due to the bad weather, this was our single opportunity to catch sight of another example - not so important to us as we’d been there, done that as far as glaciers are concerned. But for others, this was a highlight.
And actually, we were glad we’d come, for it was looking lovely, there was hardly anyone else here and we had just enough time to see what was what before getting back on the bus back to the ship.
7.30pm as we left. Did we make it in time for dinner?!
Of course we did and what a terrific evening we had with our friends as well, being the last ones to leave the restaurant that night.
No wonder there was no time to blog!