Juneau, Alaska – I Can’t See Russia From Here!!

Highlights leading up to our arrival in Juneau:

Ketchikan, AK

– Ketchikan hugs the mountains and is long and narrow…there’s as many eagles flying about as there are seaplanes! It is also, a big cruise ship hub. Even the friendly locals comment on how they tolerate the cruise ship cha-cha for four months of the year to support their economy.

A notable highlight of Ketchikan for us, other than actually making it to our 49th state and rendezvousing with the two other GSSR boats was dining on fresh Alaskan king crab – what a treat! The average weight of one King crab runs about 8 lbs and sells for about $10.00 per pound. It’s no wonder those ‘Deadliest Catch’ fishermen risk their lives…there’s big money to be had!

Petersburg, AK

– Beyond the passage north through Wrangell Narrows lays Petersburg. Petersburg is home to one of Alaska’s largest fishing fleet. We tied up in the harbor amongst the saltiest of trawlers…’Grey Pearl’ seemed right at home. The day after we arrived, this friendly town with its Norwegian background and appearance was hosting their annual Norway May Day parade…all 10 minutes of itJ. Afterwards, it was party down at the Harbor Pub…where most everyone there was dressed up as “Vikings”. As they say…when in Rome…so we had plenty of Viking spirits!

Pybus Bay, AK

– From Petersburg we set off for Pybus Bay. As we neared the anchorage in Pybus Bay, we encountered a pod of humpback whales. Little did I know from here on in our trip we would come across many whales in our path…okay, so the guide books were right…seeing is truly believing and what a wonderful sight! That telltale sign of a 20 to 30 feet of plume of mist shooting in the air, then the hump, then the tail…pretty cool…especially now as we can capture this with our new Nikon camera.

Side note

– We

have “blacked out” our stateroom. The overhead hatches have the covers on and it feels more like a cave. We’re nearing 18 hours of daylight, starting at 4:00am…thus, why we chose to “black out” our nest.

Tracy Arm Cove, AK

– After 24 hours of fog and rain anchored in Pybus Bay(photo of ‘Sans Souci’), we awake to a glorious sunny day. Next stop, Tracy Arm. This glacier viewing trip we had on another Nordhavn, N5001,’Crossroads’, Stan & Diane Heirshburg – as part of the caravan. Anchors down by 3pm; dinghy’s in the water to set the crab pots and check out our first glacier sighting – ‘bergy bit’s as they are called, floating just past the cove. The following day, ‘Crossroads’ was kind enough to offer all of us (the GSSR group) a ride on their boat to cruise the 21 mile inlet to where the glacier spills right down into the sea. It was a beautiful, not a cloud in the sky kind of day. We passed countless waterfalls, frolicking whales, bergy bits the size of a house…just an amazing experience…and, why wouldn’t it be? Who isn’t struck by Mother Nature’s finest?! It’s still a bit early in the season and we haven’t encountered many pleasure boats in the popular anchorages. The cruise ships, however, are out in droves…we passed 4 or 5 during our little 6-hour tour.

Another side note – Braun & I were on our sixth day without hot water. Before leaving Petersburg to enjoy some wonderful and anticipated “anchor time”, we discovered that our new

fancy I-talian hot water heater was not properly installed. Water made its way down a wire (no drip loop) and shorted out the thermostat. We called the manufacturer and made arrangements for them to Federal Express the part to Juneau. Well, up here in Alaska, “priority” can take up 4 days and, according to them, that’s lickty-split fast. Thanks to the kindness of ‘Sans Souci’ and ‘Seabird’, we’d show up with our towels and soap periodically and prayed our parts would be waiting for us in Juneau as we were expecting guests to arrive in less than a week! Good news – parts were in, Braun made like a noodle, using a mirror and working by “feel” to rewire and install the new thermostat. Hot water we had and life was once again back on an even keel!! Carol & Steve could finally put their clothes pins awayJ.

Juneau, AK

– Hard to believe that Juneau, the state’s capital is Alaska’s third most populous city at 30,000 people. Juneau’s historical fame lies in the Alaskan gold rush. Between 1881 and WWII, the Juneau Gold Belt yielded 6.7 million ounces of gold. The last of the three major mines closed in 1944. Downtown Juneau is fairly compact and swells with cruise ship passengers…all cruise ships stop in Juneau. Over 700,000 cruise ship passengers pass through here. In spite of all the cruise ship passengers, I still like the town…the streets are lined with gold rush era buildings but now of course, they house souvenir shops and lots of saloons…oh well. One of Juneau’s premier attractions is the Mendenhall Glacier just one of many of the valley glaciers of the vast Juneau Ice field. Ice baby, ice…so cool! We took our friends, Mort & Allyson Taubman and our 11 yr. old grandson Will there on another rare sunny Alaskan day. As a result of the warm temps that the area has been experiencing, the calving(breaking off) of the glaciers have been more frequent, as we witnessed during our visit. While our guests were on board, we cruised up to Glacier Bay. We enjoyed a number of seal and whale sightings plus, an endless watch of two resident back bears constantly feeding around North Sandy Cove.

Fishing was kicked up into high gear…not as good a showing as we had hoped. We returned to Juneau and sadly, sent Allyson, Mort and Will back home…without the promised helicopter tour over the Juneau Ice field…due to poor weather. We did the tour two days later. On a bright and sunny day, we flew over four glaciers and landed on Taku Glacier, the largest of Juneau’s glaciers. It’s hard to explain the beauty of glacier ice, it appears blue because it absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum except blue, which it transmits. Glacial ice may appear white because some ice is highly fractured with air pockets and indiscriminately scatters the visible light spectrum. The appearance of glacial ice can be jagged, smooth, deep crevasses, tubular chutes…and, whether it’s retreating, advancing, melting or accumulating…one constant will remain – change will perservere.

Now…it’s time to start cruising in earnest. Our crew members, Wayne Davis and Kell Auchenbach join us this week. They will be with us for our voyage to Japan. Wayne’s wife, Pat joins us late June in Dutch Harbor. We set off for Hoonah, AK late this week. We will meet up with the two other GSSR boats and leave, weather permitting, June 7th for a 600 mile passage across the Gulf of Alaska to Kodiak Island, AK.

For those of you who have never been to Alaska…we highly recommend it! It’s Beeg & and it’s Beautiful!

Over and out –

2 thoughts on “Juneau, Alaska – I Can’t See Russia From Here!!”

  1. Jeanne Mallard

    WOW! I am so excited for both of you. This looks like a place we could really enjoy. Sounds like you are having SUCH a great time. I cannot wait to get together when you return and hear all about it. Ron and I are going thru the last “push” with Travis. Prom, graduation etc and will be follwing in your footsteps soon (I hope) We think of you often. Take care, Jeanne & Ron

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