Friday, September 20, 2013

Tuesday, 091713 Juneau

Tuesday, 091713 Juneau

Ship tour to watch whales -- Allen Marine Tours ( -- a family run business conducting marine tours in Alaska since 1970.  The young woman who was the captain of the boat seemed to be either a member of the family, or someone associated with the family in some way.  She was excellent in finding whales and following them.  The weather was not good; it was heavily overcast with misting rain all day, sometimes heavier than others, with a breeze, and temperature of about 45 degrees.  It was not pleasant standing outside on the boat trying to take photos.  At first, we saw only one whale, and not well, so she moved the boat to a small island where sea lions were resting; there must have been at least 50 sea lions on the small island.  Then she moved the boat to another area where there were other boats that seemed to have seen whales.  Suddenly we seemed to be surrounded by a large number of whales, so there must have been lots of food fish in that area.  We stayed in that area for the remainder of the tour and we saw numerous whales.  Fortunately, I was able to get a few nice photos of the dorsal fins and some nice tail photos as well.  I felt that the trip was quite good. 

After leaving the whale watching, we were bussed to the Mendenhall glacier, which was very interesting.  I could not help comparing it with the Briksdahl glacier in Norway.  The Briksdahl glacier was much harder to get to; we had to walk a couple of miles up a trail to see it, where the Mendenhall glacier was in full view from a number of viewing platforms.  The National Park Service made it easy to view the glacier, and visitor center also had a really nice video and other displays that provided much information about the glacier.  I felt really good about the experience of seeing the Mendenhall glacier (as I also did about seeing the Briksdahl glacier). 

Later, I walked the one street in Juneau.  Juneau was the town built around the Juneau gold strike.  It is a very narrow town built along a river, with only one street.  Beyond the one street, a high mountain blocks further development.  The state capitol is a plain brown building with no dome.  The entire town is only about 30,000 population, and it is spread out over a wide area.  The one street is filled with the same tourist shops and jewelry shops found in so many places in the Caribbean; many of the jewelry shops are owned by the cruise lines.  Dinner was with an Australian couple and a young couple from San Diego. 

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