Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We visit Juneau, Alaska

Welcome to Juneau!

As we approached the harbor, I was excited to see Juneau, our first port of call. The closer we got, the more obvious it was tourism was one of its main industries. Shops lined the streets and marched up the hillsides touting their main attractions -- furs and diamonds.

Phillip and I went into one shop, then another and another. Somehow, they all looked the same once you got inside. Granted, the jewels were beautiful and the sales clerks willing to serve us, but we were anxious for our whale-watching excursion.

In the meantime, our tour guide showed us the salmon hatchery and pointed out lots of eagles perched around the harbor. Smart birds -- they knew where to find a free meal. These chub salmon weighed an average of 12-15 pounds and were nearly 24 inches long!

And here are the free-loaders waiting for a tasty bite!

This fellow flew past our bus and landed on a hill nearby. Our driver stopped to let us snap his photo. Isn't he a beauty?

We also took a side trip to view the Mendenhall Glacier -- one of the prettiest we viewed on the entire trip. That's my hubby in the red jacket, and we are standing about 3 miles away from the glacier. It is HUGE.

A bit later, the bus driver delivered us to the designated dock where we met our pilot. Harv is one half of the "Harv and Marv" duo who provide whale-watching tours on small crafts near Juneau.

Our boat was fast and quite comfortable. As we zipped over the water, Harv gave us a lot of background on the area and pointed out interesting sites. There were only six of us on the tour, so we had a chance to get to know one another over the next three hours.

When his radio crackled with updates from a fellow whale-spotter, Harv turned to head that direction. When you're near whales, the first thing you'll usually notice is their "blowing" -- a sign they are preparing to surface.

And sure enough, they did! But by the time we got our cameras aimed and focused ...

... there wasn't much left to see. Take a look at the photo below -- rocks in the background make it harder to see the whale's tail, but it's there!
After an adventurous three hours on the water, we spotted at least six whales and watched them carefully. The boat was rocking on the waves at times, so I had to focus on standing up and not falling overboard. Which means I missed a few great shots. :-(

Nonetheless, we had a great time in Juneau and surrounding sites! In the photo above, you'll note we are zipping along back toward the harbor. A fitting snapshot to bring this to a close, don't you think?

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