Alaska

6/1: Week 3 – Glacier Bay NP

We had nothing planned for our transfer day in Juneau.  We thought we would go up the Mt. Roberts Tram, or perhaps back out to Mendenhall Glacier, but the rainy weather put those options out of our minds.  We walked around town, did a little shopping, and had lunch.  Then we went back to the convention center where we used the internet and waited for the start of our next adventure.

 

Juneau has a modern section, and then the older frontier section where most of the shops and tourist attractions are located:

 

We saw this book in the window of a store, and it had more meaning than it might have had a week before:

 

We picked up a couple of smaller souvenirs, checking to make sure these were “handmade in Alaska …”

 

We passed several large murals – that’s the sidewalk on the bottom, to give some perspective to how large the murals are:

 

By now, we were ready for lunch.  We had vouchers for the Hangar Pub, so that’s where we went.  As usual, I had halibut & fries, and Lou probably had a cheeseburger. The food was excellent. We tried to stretch lunchtime out, since we knew we’d have several hours before we would be boarding the Wilderness Explorer.  I entertained myself by taking photos of: my lunch, our drink, a neon sign, and the expensive high-end souvenirs purchased earlier (not every moment is action-packed on this trip):

Jun1PM-9

 

 

We were done with sightseeing around Juneau. The good thing with the layover – there is enough time to go to Mendenhall Glacier or go whale watching out of Auke Bay. The bad thing about the layover – there is a lot of waiting time if you are elderly and just want to get settled again 🙂 While waiting for boarding time, we visited with some folks we knew – there were over 20 passengers from Week 2 continuing on to Week 3 – and did the usual internet catching up.  One of us may have snagged a nap.

 

It really started to rain hard and was still raining at 5pm as we marched across the street to our new home for the coming week.

Fortunately, we were able to wait to board under a covered gangway (which could use some paint):

 

While waiting, Captain Danny and some of the crew from the Wilderness Discoverer came by – they tried to entice us to switch back to their ship, since they were sure we’d have more fun.  There was obviously a fun rivalry between the crews of the two ships. And, we did have a lot of fun with the Wilderness Discoverer crew.

 

Jun1PM-19

Boarding was quick and easy, and we were soon checking out our cabin – No. 300 on the top deck, again just behind the bridge.  It is smaller than our previous cabin, but there is still lots of storage space.  Our freshly cleaned laundry was waiting, along with our luggage. One small downside was the bed was against the wall. Even as agile as I am, clamoring over Lou to get out of bed early in the morning was always a treat!

 

We peeked into the dining area as we came onboard; the layout on this ship is different.  The dining area is one deck below the lounge.  This works fine for dining, but did make the lounge seem crowded at times, because it was separated from the dining area.

 

Shortly after boarding, we all mustered in the lounge for the first safety drill (the Wilderness Explorer was refurbished in 2012 and it was in very good condition, but I’m guessing the retro mirrored ceiling is left over from its previous glory days):

 

There was time to check out a little bit of the ship after the Welcome Reception.  While the inside seemed less spacious than the Discoverer, I thought the outdoor space was much better for photography.  There was some comfortable seating in the bow of the boat, and we had good access off the stern.  The outside area on the top deck was smaller, but views weren’t blocked by the skiffs and kayaks, since they were on a lower deck:

 

Saying goodbye to Juneau:

 

Dinner was a choice of cod or steak, with a delicious chocolate dessert. As we were finishing dinner, there was an announcement – whales had been spotted. Of course, one of us had to jump up to go check it out (hint – it was’t Lou).

 

I thought we had been tricked by porpoises again:

 

But … wait … these don’t look like porpoises …

 

What are they?  They’re not humpbacks.  It couldn’t be, could it?  Since the suspense is killing you, take a look at the next photo (you already looked, didn’t you?):

 

Believe it!  We saw Orcas on our very first evening – a mother with her youngster.  This was amazing, and we watched them play until it got too dark.  We were admittedly a little cranky earlier in the day, having to wait around to board the ship, but that evaporated once the Orcas came out to play … we had spent two weeks seeing the most amazing scenery and some humpbacks, but no Orcas. Will it get better than this?

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