August 17, 2013
Juneau – whale watching, the Mendenhall Glacier
At this point I started having trouble keeping up with writing and photos because every day we were too busy doing things and taking more photos!
We woke up in Juneau, which looked like a busy city compared to Skagway. Again, we woke up to rain and fog. Would our luck hold for another day? Would it clear up or were we going to spend the morning on a boat in the rain?
Again, we had no trouble finding our tour and soon we were on the bus heading for the boat. It was a nice drive and we were able to see a lot of Juneau on the way. We could stay indoors on the boat if it was raining, but again it seemed that luck was turning in our direction and the weather was clearing up. By the time we got to the dock the rain had stopped and bits of blue were starting to show in the sky.
We were seated behind the boat captain (Ally and Derrick on the Raven – so I can remember and write a note on Trip Advisor) and we could hear him talking on the radio to other boat captains who were reporting the locations of whales. Clearing skies, whales in the area, things were looking good!
We stopped near some other boats, and there were whales everywhere! First we spotted a mother and calf. Then we spotted some other adults. I think altogether there must have been close to a dozen whales! It was amazing. We would be watching for one to resurface, and we’d hear another blow on the other side. Or, we’d see a group of two or three coming up together, while a few more were blowing farther out. Sometimes it was hard to figure out what direction to look because they were all around us! At one point, a whale surfaced right behind another tour boat. Those folks must have been so excited.
Watching the whales was such an amazing experience that I hated to leave, but we had the glacier waiting for us. This is the same glacier we had seen on Thursday, but today we were going to see if from land.
The glacier was also amazing. It was made of compacted snow that had fallen hundreds and thousands of years ago! What a thing to be so near such an enormous force of nature. This whole area is full of glaciers but most of them are high in the mountains. We were told that in centuries past there were many more glaciers that carved the earth into the huge mountains and valleys that it is today, and some volcanoes also forced lava up through the ice to make some mountain peaks.
We returned to the ship about 1:30 PM which was good so we could catch our breath a bit in the afternoon. We went to the deck to watch the boat leave port which I always find interesting, and then I settled at a table on an upper deck to watch the scenery and do some work on the computer.
The day wasn’t over yet though! We were going through the same water where we first saw the whales on Thursday. The naturalist announced she was going to keep an eye out and let us know if we passed any whales. Sure enough, first there were a small group of them on the starboard side, and a short time later there were more on the port side. Then, she announced there was a whale being very active on the surface, and as we came closer we could see it leaping out of the water and breaching over and over! Wow, that was totally exciting and I was really glad that I saw it and also caught a couple shots with my camera.
This was all the excitement we could handle for one day. We got some dinner and watched the views roll by the windows until it was too dark to see, and then we went back to our room and turned in for the night. We were tired and had an early morning coming, and Joel was coming down with a cold and feeling under the weather. Hopefully he’ll get a good night’s sleep and he’ll feel better in the morning.