Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Juneau, the city

We were able to spend parts of several days in downtown Juneau and had lots of fun checking out the souvenir shops and local businesses. Ate at a crab shack one day and crab cakes. While I enjoy Richard's version of crab cakes, Tracy's, not much more than a cooking shack, had the best dipping sauce ever. Homemade and they don't sell it and wouldn't tell me the recipe. YUM! Ate at another restaurant with Annie and David and The Twisted Fish had great food. Halibut tacos for me.

Richard and I stopped at The Red Dog Saloon, above, one afternoon for a drink. It is quite the hotspot and has a long history. The place was filled mostly with cruise line folks. It has sawdust covered floors and this sign says quite a bit about their philosophy.
Our service was very good but many cruise ship patrons were cranky. The saloon had live music and the place was decorated with many a wild animal or animal part.

The "Danger, Watch for Falling Snow" sign was seen at various places, including the local Auck Bay post office. Means something come winter, but made me smile on a 75 degree sunny day.

One thing I didn't learn when I was cruising on my sister's cruises, when she was a nurse on Norwegian Cruise Lines, was that these companies buy up many of the local stores. Folks disembark from the cruise ships, buy "local" merchandise and the money goes back into the hands of the cruise lines and not into the local economy. Juneau had lots of signs in stores that were locally owned or run by the Native Arts Council. I will look for this when out and about in port cities.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mt. Roberts

Yesterday was Alex's day off, so we ended up taking a tram up to the mid-point of Mt. Roberts. On our way up we saw these two huge bald eagles sitting and watching us pass by. Nature at its best! At the tram drop off point there is a nature center and the necessary bar/restaurant and trail heads. We hiked a bit...maybe a mile but that mile was straight up the side of the mountain and while the trail was dry (others have not been) it was grueling.

Saw this totem carved into a tree as we hiked the trail. A lovely surprise.
This raptor was caged and although he appears small, he easily could carry off small cats and dogs. Apparently, his relative, the bald eagle, often snags a small cat or dog. Annie and David have seen them in the eagle nests by their home. This guy could carry off Chica and she weighs 20+ pounds!

After we hiked straight up Mt. Roberts for awhile, we came to this cross placed in honor of a priest who was instrumental in Juneau's past. Never made it to the top of the mountain...turned around after this momentary rest and photo. A young lady, Carty, joined us for the tram and hike....she is a friend of Alex's and she also is a UAS student and employee. Enjoyed meeting several of his friends.

Below is a view from the tram looking down on Juneau. Cruise ship coming into port.

Hiking: Peterson Trail and Mt. Roberts

Despite my having back issues and a cranky knee these past couple of weeks, we have been able to do some trails and see some wonderfully different plants. Many of the trails here are along bluffs or straight up the mountains. The paths vary in the quality of their upkeep. Apparently, most of the trails are maintained through the use of volunteers.

David and Annie took us on a hike on Peterson's Trail, one of Alex's favorites. At the end of this trail is a cabin one can rent. We didn't to the whole trail...just a couple of miles of it because we had to go back into town to pick up Alex.
Here is a photo of Annie and Richard on the Peterson Trail.

While we were trekking along, we came across a whole field of these white fluffy plants...Alaskan cotton! Not like that grown down south but very pretty.
This is a typical strewn all around with devil's club, spiky plants which you do not want to trip or fall in. There is no way to look up while walking on these trails. Too much to slip upon, slide across or trip over. What is quite fun on these trails is that it is deep in the woods and fairly dark and cool. So, sunglasses come off and so do the jackets. Within 10-15 minutes you find yourself on a bluff and outside of the forest and you reverse the clothing process. Lots of on and off while hiking.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tracy Arm trip

Yesterday was an interesting day…we walked around town waiting for the tour boat to leave for Tracy Arm Fjord,  did some Christmas shopping and had Pel Menis for lunch. These are some sort of a dumpling with a meat center, cooked in curry and boiled in a broth. To die for! After that, we went to the dock but Alex's boat was not there.  I sent a text indicating we were at the dock. Alex called me back and said, “We had to leave without you!” You were late! As we approached, Richard mentioned that they boat must have gone to get diesel before the tour. We had been told to be there at 1:00 p.m. and, of course, I was there at 12:45 p.m. EARLY!

Alex ranted about how much preparation had gone into our getting this trip at no cost to us. The inconvenience, the trouble, the planning…all for naught. I got ticked and upset…we followed directions to the letter and he was bitching me out. I started to give it back and he laughed and said, “Mom…gotcha!” The boat arrived and I gave him a punch. Had a beautiful trip and the best was hearing the comments from the passengers about the “Naturalist” and his presentation. They had NO clue this was our son. One lady said, “He is good.” Another young man, a recent college grad told his mother, “He is going to be so successful.” As the trip continued, people realized Alex was our son and they made the most incredible comments about his helpfulness, his charisma, his grasp of culture, lore, history and nature and he isn’t even a local. We had a great trip but enjoyed watching our son be so professional and passionate about what he is doing. I mentioned to him that he most likely could not give a three minute nature presentation about either Michigan or Florida, two states he lived in for years.

Bad photo...cut the kid's head off...but this is a hunk of glacier that the boat deckhand netted and passed around. This ultimately went into the cooler.
We travelled a fair distance via boat, but first had to load passengers on our boat from a cruise liner. The huge cruise liner just came into port, docked, opened a side door on the water side, opened another door and attached to our boat a hydraulic gang plank. 26 people were off loaded onto our boat and off we went. Reverse off loading happened with the cruise folks. In the meantime, we saw ice bergs, two glaciers, one of which was calving. Dinner was served on the trip and we had a “bag lunch” consisting of a turkey wrap sandwich that probably weighed a pound, an apple, chips, cookies. Drinks were also served by Alex and the deckhand, Kevin. Kevin later took a huge net and scooped up some iceberg chunks to put in the cooler to keep the soda and beer cool. I asked about that and Kevin, a young man from Boston, just working this summer here in Juneau, indicated, “Why not? It’s cold and free!” He had a point.

 Saw some harbor seals along the way and some incredible land formations. Glacial carving is so obvious and so pretty. Also saw some magnificent waterfalls as we cruised along.
What I am enjoying so much is the natural beauty here. I have visited before but I just don't remember being in awe of all I must have seen.
The glacial striations and rock carving and mountain effects of glacier movement over time causes incredible formations.
 Sawyer glacier. The color variation was amazing. The sun shining on the rocks and on the glacier glimmered at times. Some rock formations look like they are covered in rust or iron.