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Friday, August 16, 2013- Fast Ferry to Juneau

We left the motor home at 8:20, going to the dock to wait for the Fast Ferry to Juneau. This is a 12 hour trip including the transport to Juneau, the bus to town, 3 hours in Juneau, bus to Mendenhall Glacier, then bus back to the ferry.

We had met with a pet sitter and groomer who was going to care for the dogs during the day. Her name was Ivanca Jones, and was recommended by the RV park. She was walking the dogs several times during the day and we also had her groom them.

While waiting for the ferry, the person on the dock who took our tickets,  showed us this collapsible boat. This is really a boat!

Collapable boat

The ferry picked up eight of us after their start in Skagway. We had a full boat, about 50 people,  with some folks just using the ferry for transport to Juneau. Our Captain was Capt. Glen and the mate was his daughter Anna. Here is a picture of the ferry. It was 69 ft. long, much shorter than the 26 glacier catamaran.

Fast Ferry to Juneau from Haines

Out in the Linn Channel we saw the water from the glaciers meet the canal water. The water temperature change causes the fog.

Fog from the glacier water

What a difference in the temp of the water and the color.

Where glacier water meets the Linn Channel

Next we saw Rainbow Glacier, with its 400 ft. waterfall.

Rainbow Glacier with 400 ft. waterfall

Malestina Ferry, 50 years old

Above is the Malestina Ferry. This is the oldest ship in the Alaska Ferry system. It is 50 years old, and that is why they painted the smoke stack gold to celebrate.

People on the ferry, Bob in thrid row

The inside of the ferry.  Note Bob in the third row.

Eagles Nest

Above is a bald eagle nest, can you spot the eagle? We saw lots of waterfalls and looked for eagles.

Finally, we arrived at the dock, which was about 20 minutes outside of Juneau. There was road construction, so we were delayed waiting for the pilot vehicle. We passed by the airport on the way to town. Our driver, Jessica told us a true story.

An Alaska Airline plane took off from the airport. They called in an emergency, with a mid-air collision. They were granted emergency decent back to the airport. When they were on the ground, the air controllers wanted to know what they hit, as there were no other planes or helicopters in the area. The pilot paused and said a fish. Huh? An eagle was flying by and got scared by the plane and dropped a salmon, causing damage to the plane! Of course, the airline marketing people jumped on this. They had a salmon painted on this plane, it is still flying today! It is the only recorded instance EVER of a plane being hit by a flying fish! True story!!

We stopped at the airport to let of a couple who were flying out, so we were able to see some of the town that you usually do not see. Jessica took us on a tour of Juneau, before dropping us off in town for a three hour stay.

It was after 12:00 by this time, so we stopped at Tracy’s King Crab Shack for lunch.

Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau

Great choice. I highly recommend this place! It was opened in 2006, so it was not here the last time we were in Juneau, in 2005. We got in line, a sure sign that the place is good. We ordered the Alaskan Sea Scallops (listed as an appetizer?) with pan seared Alaskan Weathervane Sea Scallops in a homemade Masala Cream Sauce served over jasmine rice. ( we received 9 scallops, about 2-3” in diameter). We also ordered the Alaskan Crab Roll, steamed king and snow crab served in a hoagie roll w/coleslaw on top. Just like a Maine Lobster Roll. We split them! AWESOME! A 10 on a scale of 1-10!! Too bad I was to busy eating to remember to take a picture.

We sat with a couple and their teenage sons who were on the Princess cruise. A nice couple. When they left another couple, from the same cruise ship joined us.

Friend Audrey Lamoureux had asked that we check at the Juneau City Museum to see if her name was on a cannon ball exhibit. She had assisted with defusing it years ago during her Navy days. So we trotted up the hill to the museum. It was a hike! They did not have the cannon ball on display and called over to the state museum to see if they had it. Nope, it is not currently on display.

Juneau City Museum

We hiked up another block and went to visit St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. Built in 1894, it is on the National Historic Landmark list.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church - Juneau AK

We stopped at the State Capitol. Alaska has one of the very few state capitol buildings w/o a dome. When Alaska became a state in 1959, the federal government gave them money to build a capitol building. The people of Alaska felt that was a waste of money ,so they turned down the money and kept the government office building as their capitol Right now they seem to be adding a portico.

Alaska Capitol Bldg. Juneau

We also stopped at the Alaska Brewery gift shop. They have tours and tastings, but they bus you to them and that would have taken too much time. We wandered through the gift shop but did not buy anything. Bob was not too upset about not doing the tasting, as he has already had their beers.

We also stopped at the Alaska Hotel and Bar. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and is filled with ornate Victorian era furnishings. In 1914 there were 30 saloons in town!

Alaska Hotel Bar

We stopped at The Alaska Steam Laundry. Built in 1901 (the business dated from 1895) it has a wooden turret and ornate slanted shingled front parapet.

The Alaska Steam Laundry, 1901

We wandered through some of the shops and I bought two pins. We also bought hats and a shirt. We decided to head to the famous Red Dog Saloon for a drink. We sat at the bar, admiring Wyatt Earp’s gun from Nome. He left it at the saloon. I had a blue margarita and Bob had an Alaskan Brewery Amber Ale.


Inside Red Dog Saloon

Blue margarita and Red Ale at Red Dog Saloon

Wyatt Earp's gun from Nome left at the Red Dog by Earp

We left from there to return to the bus, as it was leaving promptly at 3PM. From here, we proceeded to Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, is a tongue of ice stretching over 12 miles from the Juneau Ice Field to Mendenhall Lake. The glacier is 1/2 mile wide and about 100 ft. tall, above the water. Ice depths of 2000 ft. occur along the glaciers length. In 1879, John Muir named it Auk Glacier after a local Tlingit Indian Village. In 1892 the name was changed to honor Thomas C. Mendenhall, superintendent of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey. Since the 1700’s the glacier has been receding. They list the calving dates, and it does not seem to calf very often. About 1-2 times a month.

Mendenhall Glacier


Above is a picture of the ice fields. Below is glacier ice. Yes, we touched it!


While in the visitor center, Steve, one of the Rangers, gave a quick presentation on bears. It was very interesting. Then we went to see the movie, “Landscape of Change”. Below is Nugget Falls to the right of the glacier. There are a number of walking trails, but we only had time to do one.

Mendenhall glacier waterfall

We walked a short distance on the Steep Creek Trail and stopped to watch this porcupine, asleep in a tree. I didn’t know they slept in trees!

Porcupine in tree

We continued on and turned right on the trail. There were a lot of people there, watching a bear. So we stopped to take pictures. The bear was hunting the stream for salmon. It was funny to watch. The bear was up the stream and he tried to catch the fish. Next thing we knew, two salmon when flying by, as fast as their fins would take them, with the bear in hot pursuit. He never caught those salmon. He ended up going right beneath me, and down the river.

Bear walking right below me on bridge

Bear hunting salmon at Mendenhall Glacier

He went back up stream and caught a salmon and went off to eat his lunch. We left there and returned to the bus which took us to the ferry.

As the ferry was pulling out from the dock, we spotted a young bald eagle ( there were two of them). They do not have the white heads, as those do not appear until an eagle is at least five years old.

Young blad eagle, <5 yr old

Capt. Glen said that the other boats were talking about seeing a pod of whales in a channel, further south. So we took off to that channel. ( this was not on our way back to Haines!).

Humpback whale diving

Sure enough, there was 8 humpback whales. We could see them blowing the air out their blowholes for miles before we arrived there.

Three humback whales blowing air

Humpback whale

Humback whale

humpback whales

Humback Whales

Humpback whales are not the whales that jump high out of the water. They come up for air, blow air out their blowholes, and dive back down for 7-10 minutes, feeding. We continued on, heading north, back past Juneau.

We stopped by a Steller Seal rookery.

Stellar seal rookery

Stellar Seal Rookery

Almost everyone on the boat was out on the back watching the seals. We were all laughing, as they woke up and started honking. The noise they made was really funny!

On we went, this time we stopped to see some more Steller Seals on a buoy.

Stella steals on bouy

Second floor walkup

Note the silly seal on the second floor condo…. Capt. Glen, said that he couldn’t explain it! That seal had to have worked at it to get up there! Evidently we woke them up from their nap, and they started honking at us in protest!

Next we saw Centennial Lighthouse, 1903. The lighthouse is now privately owned.

Sentenal Lighthouse, 1903

 This fog was so interesting on the bay

Above was a fog manifestation.  Isn’t that interesting?

Below is Eldrop Lighthouse. The Coast Guard has listed it for sale if you are interested in living in the middle of a very cold , remote area of Alaska! It is still a working lighthouse. There are only three lighthouses in Alaska.

Eldrod Lighthouse, it's for sale...

Harbor seals at lighthouse

Above are harbor seals at the just below the lighthouse. Finally, my favorite picture of the day.


We returned to the dock in Haines after a very long, but really fun day. We were very glad we had taken this tour!

The dogs happily greeted us. They did not seem to upset with being left with the groomer grooming and walking them.

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