Sunday, July 24, 2011
What an amazing trip this has been! We have learned SO much, seen SO much, experienced SO much! The weather has been so perfect! Alaska has about 288 days of rain each year – we are; afterall, in a temperate rainforest! But, we have not encountered any wet weather the entire trip! (Except for the “Alaskan snow” that Steve made last night at the dinner table!)
So far, we have visited Glacier Bay, Juneau (the capital of Alaska), Sitka, and Ketchikan. Each stop along the Southeastern shore of Alaska has each own fascinating history, charm and character.
Glacier Bay is a huge waterway. Two hundred years ago, Captain George Vancouver observed this area to be a large open bay, blocked at its Northern end by a giant wall of ice. Since then, the ice in Glacier Bay has slowly receded, uncovering a new waterway 65 miles long containing many fjords and inlets. While observing the Glacier Bay area, we witnessed the “calving” of this massive glacier and we saw some wildlife as well!
In the late 19th century, A Tlingit Chief (native American chief) led two prospectors to a creek that emptied into the Gastineau Channel. After just a few hours, Richard Harris and Joe Juneau found gold! That discovery changed the course of history! On October 4, 1880, Harris and Juneau laid claim to the area. They named the area Gold Creek. The discovery was one of the largest finds in the Klondike Gold Rush.
Juneau is nestled between Mount Juneau (3,576 ft.) and Mount Roberts (3,819 ft). These mountains give the town not only beautiful scenery, but also a natural protection against the cold winds and permafrost experienced in other areas of Alaska.
While in Juneau, Joe and I visited the Mendenhall Glacier. Mendenhall Glacier is part of the Juneau Icefield. Juneau Icefield is home to over 40 glaciers. Mendenhall Glacier is 13 miles from downtown Juneau. The Glacier is 12 miles long, 1.5 miles wide and more than 100 feet tall.
Another great adventure in Juneau was a whale watching tour. We were blessed to see over 24 whales! We got to see mother and baby whales! We saw many whales breaching, and we saw whales bubble netting. Besides seeing whales, we also saw steller seals and even an eagle! The eagle flew right over the top of the boat. It was SO close, I could even see the eagle’s eye! The tour group was invited to attend a salmon bake at Orca Point Lodge. We were served fresh salmon and all the fixins!
Another post will by up shortly!!! Can't wait to see all my Alabama friends and family!!