Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 5 - Juneau

The next morning we woke up early as the boat was pulling into the port of Juneau (#76 on the list). We had an early shore excursion so we quickly ate breakfast and met our group on the dock. After everyone had arrived we took a jet boat across the water to Douglas Island. There we put on all of our gear, had a brief safety briefing, and were trucked up the mountain to go on a Rainforest Canopy and Zipline Expedition!

There is no better way to enjoy and explore the Alaskan Rainforest (#78).

There were 9 zip lines...

the longest one spanning over 700 feet...

and reaching speeds of up to 35 m.p.h. at the fastest point...

zipping over 200 feet in the air, including over old mine remnants and pits...

and there were also 2 canopy bridges...

and a 4o foot repel to the ground at the end of the trip.

It was amazingly fun and a totally cool experience. Definitely worth doing if you get the chance.

From there we took the boat back across to the port, and after a brief rest continued with our visit. Lucky for us, some friends offered to let us borrow their car for the afternoon since there is a lot to do in Juneau. Even though the road only goes 42 miles before dead ending (there is no road in or out of the Capital), it still would have been impossible to get around to everything without that.

Our first stop was Mendenhall Glacier (#77), the very impressive glacier just a few miles from downtown. The glacier is massive, even though it has retreated tremendously in the past 20 years. The glacier used to completely cover the valley between the two mountains and reach forward all the way past the waterfall on the right, as recently as the 90's.

While we were there, we took a brief hike along the side of the lake to the waterfall.

The glacier was one of the most impressive we have seen.

From there we drove around the 42 mile road (at least part of it) and took a side trip over the bridge to Douglas Island to get a view of downtown Juneau.

Next we drove over to the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery (part of #103). They help supplement the natural salmon population, allowing for one of the major industries in the area - fishing - to continue. Their success rate is 108 adult salmon for each 2,500 salmon eggs (the amount that comes from a single female) vs. 2 for the same amount of eggs born in the wild. Success is determined by salmon returning to the river they were born in to spawn (and be caught).

Finally, and to have a little fun, we drove over to the Alaska Brewing Company (part of #103).

We got a tour and a history of the brewing company (which is widely known in Alaska and makes great beer) and most importantly we got free samples!

After that long day we went back to the cruise ship to eat dinner and go to bed! Juneau was well worth the visit, and one of the main reasons we did the cruise. Thanks again to our friends who let us borrow their vehicle!


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