JUNEAU: THE GLACIER CITY AND OUR JOURNEY TO THE MENDENHALL GLACIER Blog # 3

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Juneau is a beautiful harbor side city with old building facades giving way to Gold Rush charms. We were informed by our local guide, that the charm does disappear into the crowded streets when there are six cruise ships unloading their thousands of passengers and crew members each day. When you see tens of thousands of tourists descend upon the city, you understand that the 30,000 residents have made other arrangements for their shopping needs.  Today we are only four ships full of tourists needing access to Juneau and all it has to offer, Also, I asked about the ownership of these lovely shop offerings in town and we were told that the stores are independently owned, rent is paid by the year, but only occupied from May until September. When the tourist season is over, the shops are closed up and the shopkeepers head south until next May when they open up for tourist business again.

There are five fish hatcheries in Juneau, each cultivating 150,000,000 eggs, therefore replenishing a dwindling supply of fish in Alaskan waters. Bravo! Okay you can start laughing if you wish.  There are so many designated bear viewing areas and no bear sightings.  I am certain and do not quote me, but I believe that when a site has accumulated enough tourists, someone presses a button and the bears come out and then, press the button again and the bears go back into their cages awaiting the next button to be pushed.  I think you are not laughing. I know, I know there are many bears here and the people who live here have made provisions to be safe from them. We have seen, whales in the mist, eagles galore and hawks. More are to come.  Oh yes, a gorgeous fuzzy white moth with deep yellow eyes landed on my parka and when I went to flick him/her off, he/she spit at me.  Oh my goodness, that is so strange. Any ideas on why, what, how who it was???

After our early morning tour of Juneau, we headed towards the Mendenhall Glacier and waterfall. We were told about the huge fires in 1911, 1926 and 1937. It rains so much in Juneau, they put wooden planks on the streets, also they built buildings out of wood and so much of the town was of wood.  There used to be huge winds of up to 100 miles per hour that would come through the city. The people used coal and kerosene to heat and cook. Once the winds picked up one house full of flames it blew the flames throughout the city. Very few all-wood structures exist today. Of course heating methods and changed and believe it or not, the winds do not come anymore.

The trees of the forest leading up to the glacier are lushly standing side by side with mists densely draping their sides and tops. I remember what our guide yesterday said, “If you cannot see the mountaintops, it is raining.” He said you don’t need a weatherman, just look to the mountains.  The mountaintops are covered in mist and it is raining.

Clad in our warmest layers and rain gear, we are let out to trudge to the Glacier and further if you wanted to hike to the waterfalls. I am shocked to see the area in which Skip and I climbed all over the Mendenhall Glacier so many years ago is now water and you have to view the glacier from a cemented area or a lookout building they have built as a viewing structure. We viewed a film in the center that explained that our climbing part of the glacier had simply melted and has shrunk dramatically. They say you can never go back, and if you back to the exact same spot, the change may be dramatic. Sometimes memories work out well.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alvira
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 12:24:01

    Beautiful pictures and well written. Make me feel like a visitor!

    Reply

  2. Sheila Clapkin
    Jun 30, 2013 @ 10:18:16

    Thank you for your comment. Coming from you it is an honor. You know how to travel and enjoy it all. I have a few more blogs coming on Alaska.

    Reply

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