Juneau, Alaska

Accessible only by water and air, it's not surprising that wildlife thrives in Juneau's stunning frontier landscape. In fact, it's the only state capitol whose governor's mansion sits less than one mile from prime grizzly bear habitat. As we leave the ship, some wildlife snuggles up to Amanda, Katie and Brent for a photo.


Tim rented a couple of cars and we drove to the airport where he'd made arrangements to charter airplanes to view Mendenhall Glacier.

Katie, Amanda, Brent and Sue about to board the smaller plane.

...While the rest of us get on board the larger one.


They're about to take off.

The airport control tower with Mendenhall Glacier visible in the

View of Juneau and the glacier. Below are some photos that give an idea of how desolate, cold and beautiful it is from the air. The Juneau Ice straddles the Coast Mountains between Mount Hefty in the north to Devil's Paw in the south. There are other glaciers comprising the area, but the most accessible one is Mendenhall on the southwest side of the Juneau ice field. The early people called it "home of the spirits," and the Inuit word munatak, refers to a peak protruding above the surrounding ice.
Mendenhall Glacier formed about 3,000 years ago in the Neoglacial of the Late Cenozoic Ice Age and reached its maximum during the relatively recent Little Ice Age. Currently, the glacier is 12 miles long and terminates in Mendenhall Lake. It originates on the "western snowfields of the Taku Range" at an elevation of 5,500 feet and flows down to 100 feet above sea level. The glacier is over 200 feet thick at its terminus, with more than 100 feet poking above the water and another 100 feet below the water's surface. The glacier flows at a rate of about 2 feet per day but because it descends into a warmer, maritime climate the terminus melts faster than it grows and thus the glacier is receding.


These deep bluish crevasses in the glacier are up to 120 feet deep.


The glacier ends at Mendenhall Lake.

Nice view of our ship.


It was a wonderful adventure, but a few people didn't feel very good when we left the plane. Glad I ate a big breakfast. We drove back to the ship for lunch. Afterwards, Papa Mel told us he wanted to remain on board and rest. The rest of us went exploring.

This mother bear and her cubs greet visitors at the Salmon Hatchery. Below is the ladder the spawning salmon swim up from the harbor to the hatchery.

This is what they look like at the mouth of the ladder, and be loware the  various holding tanks. After the eggs are removed, the Salmon are processed into pet food.

View of hatchery pens for salmon fry to adjust to the ocean where they will be released and to where they'll eventually return. On the right is the entrance to the fish ladder. Beyond the hatchery is the dock where the kids are fishing for salmon.

Brad releases a salmon from Bradley's line.

This Raven and his clan have plenty to eat.

An aerial view of the hatchery, I'd taken earlier. While the kids were fishing, Susan, Cheryl and I felt like taking a little hike up the Salmon Creek trail visible across the highway. We originally agreed to only hike to the top of the hill as it appears in the next photo. Then Sue wanted to go farther, and told us she wouldn't be long...so we agreed.

We waited and waited and worried about why it was taking her so long.


This sign is just beyond this area of the road where Cheryl and I waited, but we didn't go that far.  An hour passed and we had terrible fears that she might have encountered a bear, or experienced some other problem. Knowing Sue, we had a sneaking suspicion that she couldn't resist going farther than she intended. Back at the car the two way radio made sounds like Tim was trying to contact us. An excited voice asked where we were...and after some interference said that Papa had fallen and broken his leg, and was taken to emergency at the local hospital. We were beside ourselves. I couldn't help but cry. What was he doing to have such an accident? I wrote a note on a bag for Sue and put it on the gate at the entrance to the trail. We were pretty concerned so said a prayer together. Talk about a fast reply..No sooner had we finished...when two scrounge guys on bicycles showed up. We asked them if they knew where the hospital was. They pointed to our left, "It's right over there." If you look at the picture at the road (trail) across the highway from the hatchery, you'll notice the large building. We couldn't see it through the trees. Sue would have to wait. We hoped she was okay, and drove to the hospital to see about Mel. As we were getting out of the car the radio began sputtering again. Tim wanted to know where we were. Sue had told him we'd be right back and it was an hour later. We told him we were at the hospital where he, or Brad had told us Mel had been taken. There was some confusion and then they said no one had talked to us. It was either a hoax or a mistake. More like a relief. We drove back to where Sue was supposed to show up. She still wasn't there. Tim was about ready to call the rangers to look for her.



Sue reached the Salmon Creek reservoir.


Bradley and Timmy jog up the road to see if they can find Sue. Before long she met them as she was returning to where we waited. We were relieved and happy that she was hail and healthy, but scolded her for being so careless and inconsiderate. This was Grizzly territory, not a harmless park. (A couple of months later we read that an animal advocate (dubbed Grizzly Man) who liked to take chances proving bears were nice, was killed and eaten by a hungry bear.)
It was good for all of us to think about. We were typical tourists who often do dumb things while looking for a little fun. Needless to say, we were soon driving down the road to visit the lake we'd seen from the air. Below, we're taking turns getting photos with the Mendenhall Glacier and lake behind us.



It was getting late. We had to get the rental cars back, board ship
on time, and get dressed for dinner.



We have much to smile about as another day comes to a close.
Wonderful adventures shared with best friends.

I dream of sailing out to space,
To catch a star or two.
Exploring through the universe,
With friends to see the view.



Bon Voyage 2003

II Ketchikan, Alaska

IV Skagway

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