Friday, July 29, 2011

Juneau and Ketchikan

Juneau From the Ship
Alaska’s Gastineau Channel, a prized fishing ground for the native Alaskan Tlingit people for thousands of years, provides the scenic setting for Juneau. The capital of Alaska since 1906, this former mining town came into being shortly after two prospectors, Joe Juneau and Richard Harris, arrived in 1880 and learned from Chief Kowee of the presence of gold in a nearby creek. By the mid 1940s, gold mining had declined, leaving the government as the basis of Juneau’s economy. Alaska became a state in 1959, and plans to move the capital to a larger city fell through. Today the lucrative trades of fishing and tourism augment the business of governing the state.

We began our tour with a stroll along the city’s main street and visited lots of gift shops, some touristy, most exhibiting lovely works of locally produced art. At a row of tour stalls on the pier, we booked a bus tour to see both the city and the famous Mendenhall Glacier, a dazzling frozen river that sprouts from the Juneau Icefield.
The Mendenhall Glacier
The Ice Up Close - So Blue!
The Crystal Symphony Docked in Juneau
The next day, the Symphony docked at Ketchikan, the "Salmon Capital of the World." The busy harbor teemed with seaplanes and boats, and though the frontier streets beckoned, we wouldn’t have time for a stroll through the town, much of which perched on pilings over the water. We had booked a 5-hour catamaran cruise to Misty Fjords National Monument.

Ketchikan also bears the dubious distinction of the "Rain Capital of Alaska." We began our tour in the covered top deck wondering if the drizzly gray skies would be with us all day. Soon, we were out on deck, for the weather cleared as we made our way through a lush green wilderness carved out by glaciers. Using an entertaining storytelling style, a knowledgeable naturalist told us of the geology, ecology, and history of the areas we visited. For me, Misty Fjords, which provides a breathtakingly beautiful habitat for bald eagles, wolves, bears, deer, moose, fox, and goats, and other sea and animal life, was the highlight of the cruise.

Misty Fjords
New Eddystone Rock (Volcanic Formation)
One of Misty Fjord's Many Waterfalls
Water Deep Green from the Trees
 and the Minerals on the Lake Bed
We spent two relaxing days at sea returning to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoying the Captain’s Formal Farewell dinner along the way. We’d had a wonderful time, seen lots of gorgeous scenery, eaten some great food, met new friends, even played a game of Mexican Train Dominoes with my aunt and uncle. I hope to enjoy another Crystal cruise one day and hear Louie Armstrong warbling "What a Wonderful World" as the ship departs each port.

♪ Oh, yeah! ♫


  1. Beautiful pictures and entertaining commentary. Although our cruises in Alaska were just the "day" type, the scenery is awesome, isn't it. I hope to do a real cruise some day, but for now I've satisfied to have experienced "God's" country. Thank you for sharing your pics and experience.

  2. Ginger, the scenery is most awesome! I almost wish we'd been on a more unstructured visit, as you were, to experience the real Alaska. IMHO, we didn't have enough time in each of the gorgeous places we visited. Maybe one day we'll go back on our own. I'd love to see Fairbanks and Anchorage. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Gorgeous pictures, Pat. You and Ginger were most fortunate to be able to spend time up there. And I'd love to go back to Fairbanks again. I lived there a quarter century ago, but the people were the best part of that place. I'm sure they still are. I guess you could say, "I left my heart in old Alaska." LOL
    Pat Dale

  4. Yummy photos, Pat. I can see why you are spending time revisiting Alaska. We've always thought a cruise up that way would be nice. It looks like you had quite an adventure. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I agree, Pat, and would add that you are a lucky fella to have spent some time in that mystical state. The native American legends captured my imagination, along with the gold rush stories and out and out wildness of the places I saw. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Paisley, the scenery was the star of the show for sure, and the people we met were wonderful. Hubs and I have been talking about taking an Alaskan cruise for twenty years, and we figured it was about time to do it. I'm glad we did. So glad you dropped by. Thanks!

  7. Pat, your pictures are beautiful. It looks so peaceful. My parents took an Alaskan cruise last year and LOVED it. The scenery alone is breathtaking. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. Will you be going back? ;-)

  8. Victoria, I'd like to return to Alaska some day, but it won't be for a while. Ireland ever beckons, and Hubs wants to visit some different places when time and budget allow. Still, this trip was special, inspiring and informative. We truly enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Hi, Pat. I love the pics. A similar trip is on my bucket list.

  10. My bucket list is overflowing, Dawn. Here's hoping we cross lots of items off our lists, and soon!

  11. This is one of the most wonderful things about Muse! The other day I toured Scotland before breakfast. You and Ginger have shown us Alaska. How to travel without leaving home!

  12. Gail, Alaska was a new adventure for me. I usually write about Ireland, a place I've visited often and hope to return to soon. I agree with you, it really is wonderful that blogs let us visit new places and meet new friends. Thank you so much for stopping by!