On the evening before arriving at
we had been on our way to the ship theater when KA caught the toe of her shoe
on a raised threshold. She fell, hard,
on her left knee. Thankfully, nothing
was broken (yes, they have x-ray on cruise ships!) but it was badly
injured. Her knee swelled up to the size
of a cantaloupe. The crew member at the
theater called for a wheelchair and we got her up and into the chair and headed
to the infirmary. The nurses looked at
me and said, ‘What are you doing back here?’
I was starting to feel like Jessica Fletcher – only not as deadly.
We had booked an excursion to the Mendenhall glacier for the
Juneau port of call. It was a bus tour of the town, a self guided
walk around the state park, and then a salmon dinner. Lisa had developed a fever and felt horrible
so there was no way she was going. And
now, KA was flat on her back with her leg elevated, wrapped and iced. No way she was going, either.
So, Carolyn and Donna, the ‘Irish girls’, and I went on the tour. It was amazing! The tour of the town takes very little time, lol. We had a voluble Texan for a tour guide, and she gave us more information than we needed on the cost of food, clothing, and other necessities in
. She went on and on about the lack of fast
food, the absence of clothing stores, the fact that everything is shut by . I might
have preferred a guide with more information about the natural beauty of the
area, or the cultural background of the peoples, but you get what you get. The Irish girls were amused and Donna can do
a pretty good Juneau, Alaska Texas accent now.
I thought that the Mendenhall glacier tour was actually a tour of the glacier itself. As in, walking on it. Unfortunately, no. We were dropped off at the Park and told where our bus would pick us up. So, the three of us walked out to the view point and took some pictures and skedaddled. The thing is, it was so very crowded. It was teeming, swarming, packed with tourists. It is my least favorite way of visiting a state park, I say that for sure. I get that yes, I was one of those tourists. And that these parks and these communities rely on tourism to exist. And that, it being chilly
there’s a lot more tourists in the summer.
Yes, I understand and appreciate all of that. But, I wasn’t able to enjoy that part. The visitor center was like sardines, so we
didn’t even go in. The walk out to the
view point was more crowded than a city sidewalk. There was a hike to the waterfall, and it was
a little less crowded but it didn’t get you to the glacier and we decided to
We were moseying back to the bus area when we came across another section of the park. Since we had plenty of time, we followed the path. It led to a raised walkway over a creek and out to the wetland downstream from the glacier. There were fir trees and willows and alders, a nice boreal mix. The creek was full of salmon! Red sockeye salmon swimming, thrashing, spawning and dying. We got a little excited by that! But, that was nothing, for around the next bend on the walkway we saw brown bear cubs in a tree! Wow!
There were probably only about 100 people all spread out along the walkway where you could see the bear cubs. But, there were also 4 park rangers answering questions and shushing people. Because at the foot of the tree was the cubs’ mother, taking a nap after eating her fill of salmon. I am so grateful to have seen this!
I strolled further down the walkway and watched some field biologists recording data from some device or another and spent an idle few minutes speculating about going back to work in that field. Also saw an egret make an ungainly leap into the sky, no doubt weighed down by a craw full of fish!
When we had marveled at the bears to our hearts content, we made our way back to the bus and headed back to town.
Our salmon dinner was at a restaurant at the top of a mountain. It is so steep that you get there by riding an aerial tram. It felt like it was going straight up! The view was incredible, of course, with the islands and the meandering waterways, the mountains plunging into the sea, the dense forests a dark green backdrop to the shining silver water. Words can’t do it justice.
We returned to the ship before dark. I checked on my friends and they hadn’t killed each other so that was good.