Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We awoke to find that land was back in view. The ship was passing by tall islands, covered in pines with the tops shrouded in clouds. The whole thing had almost a mystic feel to it. All eyes were still peeled for whales. In fact, this morning gave us our first real glimpse of one. He surfaced in front of the ship and we could see the back and blowhole. He submerged and the ship probably passed right over him.
I'd planned on taking a helicopter tour in Juneau with Chad and mom but when we got to the spot they told us that the tour was canceled because the clouds were too low. Not a big deal. I caught up with the FP Gal and her folks and we headed into town. The area is well set up for people right off of a cruise ship. There were rows of tours offering to take us hither and yon. (The others took a whale tour, you can see my Mom's description and amazing pictures here. Seriously, that's just a pile of whales.) We decided on a tour that would send us to the local glacier and a tram up the mountain side.
Our driver for the glacier was a lifelong Juneau native and an excellent tour guide. He reminded me of an Alaskan Garisson Keillor (with the humor not the extreme hatred of Republicans). The glacier itself was tough to see because of the rain. The area around it had a stark beauty. There are pictures here, both in clear daylight and in winter.
The tram was my favorite part of Juneau and one of the highlights of the trip. As we went up, we passed through bands of clouds so at times you could see the harbor and at other times nothing but fog. The station at the top had that moist cold bite that you only get with mountain tops. The gift shop was fairly standard but had something I hadn't seen before. Actually, two somethings, as they had two recipe books dedicated to blueberries. I was tempted to buy one but online recipes are easy enough to find. Here's one that caught my eye.
Then it was back to the ship. Relia gave signs of sleepiness well before dinner so we ate early and I stayed in the cabin with her. Fell asleep early and the ship moved on.