Sunday, September 6, 2009

Juneau, Alaska

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

We hope everyone is enjoying this long weekend. We are enjoying it in Juneau, Alaska. Arrived here on Thursday (Sept. 3) on the ferry from Haines. Juneau is the capitol of Alaska, and is accessible only by air or sea. About 32,000 people live here. Since it is located in a rain forest, it averages 220 days of rain per year.

On Friday, we took the local bus from the RV park to downtown Juneau, a distance of 14 miles, to explore the place. Lots of locals got on and off of the bus during our one-hour trip to downtown. Once we arrived, we saw that hundreds of tourists were exiting some of the largest cruise ships we've ever seen to also tour/shop downtown Juneau.

First, we ate at our favorite place (Subway), and then walked the downtown area. Two places we found especially interesting were right next to each other. The first one, called Glacier Smoothie (no, it is not a drink), is one I had previously read about. This family-owned business holds a patent on making soap using the super fine powder of mineral rich clay left behind as glaciers recede, mixed with glycerin. Pat, the owner, is a very friendly person.

The place next to it is called the Alaska Crepe Escape. The young woman who owns that place graduated from a culinary scho0l and now has had her little crepe and espresso business for two years. She made us an apple pie crepe, which was out of this world, and delicious mochas.

There was a light mist/rain as we walked around. But, the one thing we learned quickly is that no one carries an umbrella in Alaska (except for the tourists). Alaskans feel that "umbrellas are for wimps."

Then, on Saturday, we biked four miles to the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Waterfalls. This Glacier is one of 38 large glaciers and more than 100 smaller ones in the Juneau Icefield. The weather was perfect, blue skies, with temperatures in the low 60s.

We've heard and read various explanations of why glaciers are blue. This one makes sense to us. Glacier ice has a unique crystalline structure that aborbs all colors but blue. That is why the most intense blue color occurs deep in the crevasses and fades as the ice is exposed to air and the crystalline structure breaks down. We saw some awesome blue in the Mendenhall Glacier.

There is a modern Visitors Center on the top of a hill near the Mendenhall Glacier. We watched a short video on the glacier in years past. The glacier recedes an average of 80 feet per year, but in 2008, it receded over 600 feet (global warming, anyone?).

We walked the 3/4 mile to the base of the waterfall. The energy and sound of the falls is all-encompassing. What an experience! See the video below.

On Tuesday, we board another ferry for Petersburg.

Have a great week, everyone. And, continue to enjoy the life you love,

Jerry and Mary

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Sounds like a great weekend! Love the pictures & info (videos too!!)

Too bad you'll miss the eagles in the fall.