9/12/14

Juneau, Alaska

WOW, I have been MIA from this blog pretty much all summer.  I thought I would have all sorts of free time once school started, since my kids are all in school this year (and I would miraculously become a more routined blogger again), but 3 hours goes by in a hurry, and just enough time to start more projects.   AND, I'm sure you're ready for the Alaska posts to be over with too.  I only have one more after this one and I can post what we've been up to all summer.  
 
Juneau - June 12th 
We had 3 excursions planned for Juneau (it was a package deal), so after breakfast we got off the boat and the rest of our day was pretty much planned.  We had about an hour and a half to waste before we needed to be on the bus, so we walked around downtown Juneau.  You can pretty much see most of downtown in about an hour. 
Random little train in a vacant store window.  The button to get it started was on the outside so the kids could watch it go around. 
 
I thought this little tiny apartment was so cute and funny.  I know it was separate from the main house because it had it's own house number.  All the housing is jammed into a small area (at least in the downtown area), somewhat like San Fransisco.  There really isn't much space for building between the ocean and mountain.  Amazing there's even civilization here.  The only way into Juneau is by plane or boat.   



 
We turned a corner and found this pie shaped building and realized it's the state capital building.  We decided to go inside and found out they gave tours.  We had enough time, so we did the tour.  It was very interesting, and fun to see all the rooms and learn a little Alaskan history.  Our tour guide started off the tour by saying, "Welcome to the ugliest state capital building".  Ha, I thought that was funny.  It was a little neater on the inside, but the outside was pretty ho-hum.
Noah learned about the Liberty Bell last year in school, so he was intrigued by this replica.  
Where they make the laws.
Strange to think my kids have no idea what a phone booth is. 
 
Side of the road.  Everything is so lush and pretty.  Even the roadways are covered in foliage.
Cute little free library on the side of the road.  
About a block past the capital building is the governors mansion. 
Every time we saw a bus we thought of Caitlin.  Would have been so fun to have her as our tour guide.  She sort of was before even going to Alaska.  She sent me some awesome emails helping me decide what, and where to go in Juneau.
Our first stop was to a Salmon bake.  I probably wouldn't have done this if it wasn't part of the package, and it was about the same price as having lunch somewhere in town.
They cook fresh salmon on this huge fire pit with flavored wood chips.  It was really good salmon. There was also corn bread, rice, salad, chicken, and blueberry cake.

The setting was fun too.  There's a fire for roasting marshmallows and next to a stream.
Also, a small hike that ends at this waterfall.


We were picked up at the Salmon bake and taken to the pier to get on our boat for the whale watching excursion.  Our van driver was from Sacramento and also happened to be LDS.  Small world.  I was in the back so I didn't hear much of what he said, but Adam talked to him about the church in Juneau.  He was a young kid (probably early to mid 20's) and said he came to Juneau 4 years earlier to work for the summer and never left.  We heard that same story from a few other people too.  I can totally see the appeal.  It's a pretty neat little city/town.  I don't think I could handle the weather though.  It was June and I was freezing (50's). 
Whale watching was great.  We were able to see lots of humpbacks.  We were told that humpbacks are mating and having babies in Hawaii, so those whale excursion you see more breaching.  By the time they get to Alaska they are starving, so they pretty much just eat.  The whales would surface and blow a spout and then dive down to get food.  They stay down for about 8 minutes and then resurface.  When we were in Hawaii, we saw the most incredible whale show: tons of whales breaching, babies, coming clear out of the water right by the boat, etc.  It was amazing!! 
It was still so neat to see these enormous creatures in the wild.  Everyone on the boat was watching for water spouts and then would yell to the driver and he would head toward the spout.  Our goal became to see as many tales come out of the water as we could. 

We were pretty lucky and saw quite a few pods of whales. 


I thought this was so CRAZY.  This family was just out fishing and this whale came about 20 feet away from their boat.
That dog didn't seem too fazed by it.  Can you imagine?!!  Oh just fishing, and saw this incredible whale by the boat.  Normal day of fishing?!?!?



Just past all the whales were a ton of seals trying to fight their way onto this beacon.
A glacier in the background
More eagles.
 
I could watch whales all day. They are so fascinating to me. The kids thought they were cool too.
 
 Our last stop was to Mendenhall glacier.
Like I've said in the last few posts, it's hard to really capture the size of these glaziers in photos.
We took a hike to the waterfall next to the glazier (Nugget Falls hike).



I spy Adam, Grant and Ava.
 
 The waterfall is so loud we almost had to yell when we were down there to hear each other.  Also, that whole area is misty from the waterfall.

My little explorers.



They just CAN'T stay out of the water - even if it's freezing glacier water.
After Mendenhall glacier we went back to the cruise ship and had dinner (another formal night).
It was a full day, but we all loved it.  The kids loved the whales and hiking around. Last stop - Ketchikan.