2022 Alaska and the Inside Passage – Part 4 – Juneau and Mendenhall Glacier

August 26, 2022 – More overcast skies and rain greeted us as we docked in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city since 1906. We didn’t let the rain spoil our day.

There were several other cruise ships docked while we were there. The photo above was taken from our veranda early in the morning before most people ventured into town.

Our first order of business was lunch at Tracy’s King Crab Shack. We took our place in the line outside and quickly placed our order at the counter just inside the door. We grabbed two seats at a table and our food was brought to us after a few minutes. The menu is simple – crabs, crab cakes, and crab bisque. For $190 you could get a three pound bucket of Alaskan King Crab legs. We opted for a combination of Dungeness Crab, crab cakes and crab bisque.

Our meal was delicious and the crab bisque was to die for. By the time we finished lunch the streets and shops were filled with people. As we wandered around the waterfront we discovered some totems and watched several float planes take off and land.

It was pouring by the time we boarded our bus to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Our bus driver told us interesting facts about the city and pointed out places of interest along the way. There were a few eagle sightings.

The Visitor’s Center is managed by the by the United States Forest Service in the Tongass National Forest. We walked along trails to get a closer look at Mendenhall Glacier, Nugget Falls, and the floating chunks of ice.

On our way back to the ship we stopped at the Brotherhood Bridge for another look at the Mendenhall Glacier.

After a full day in Juneau we were ready for some relaxation when we returned to the ship.

If you are interested in reading about our 2013 visit to Juneau please visit A Day Cruise to Juneau

Next up – Wildlife in one of our favorite places in Alaska

2022 Alaska and the Inside Passage – Part 3 – Whale Watching and Brown Bear Search in Icy Strait Point

August 25, 2022 – We had a full day of wildlife excursions in a new to us location – Icy Strait Point, the only privately owned cruise ship destination in the United States. This former cannery and packing station is located near the town of Hoonah on Chichagof Island, the fifth largest island in the United States. The two cruise ship docks, a museum, restaurants, shops, and excursions are all owned and operated by the local Tlingit people.

We started our day with a whale watching expedition. Our Tlingit captain Drew sped through the water to get us to a good whale watching location. Everyone was on the lookout.

Thar she blows!

Our first sighting was a pod of about five humpback whales. I tried but I could never capture all five of them on the surface at once.

We witnessed a type of feeding behavior called bubble-net feeding. The whales all dive at once. When they all surface at the same time they are in a circle with their heads up and their mouths wide open. It’s hard to predict where they will surface and when they do, they only stay on the surface a few seconds. Sadly, I never could capture them all at once.

It was an amazing to see how the whales work together to feed this way. Captain Drew kept moving the boat so everyone could get a better look. The whales continued to feed the entire time we were there – almost two hours.

As these whales headed straight for our boat I heard the captain say “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat.”

I could have stayed on the boat watching the whales all day but the captain had a schedule to keep and we had a bear search to get to. In the gallery below, the green walkway led us from the cruise ship dock to Icy Strait Point. We checked in for our bear search at the Adventure Center and had about an hour to explore before boarding a shuttle to take us to the trail. The Orca statue was the only Orca we saw the entire trip.

It was fun wandering through the museum and gift shops. I love the totems.

Our Tlingit bus driver told us about the area as he drove us through the beautiful Tongass National Forest and through the town of Hoonah. He was very knowledgeable and I really enjoyed hearing his stories about the Tlingit people.

He dropped us off at the trailhead where we met our guide for our trek through the forest. We stopped at the boardwalks beside the Spasski River where we hoped to see Coastal Brown Bears feeding on the salmon. There were salmon in the river, but no bears. Despite the fact that there were no bears I really enjoyed the walk through the forest.

After an exciting morning we arrived back at the ship with a big appetite for lunch. We just barely made it before they stopped serving hamburgers at the pool bar!

Up Next – Alaska’s capital city and the Mendenhall Glacier.