Friday, July 17, 2009

Fuzzy Navel Friday 7/17/09

Well the week is almost over. What a week this has been! My youngest son left for Louisiana Tech. He is getting ready to start his college football career. Kick your butt off! My Cruisitude has been on fire! What about yours? If you love your travel agent send him some love! With it being Friday I thought we would start the afternoon on the calm side and build our way up, so why not a Fuzzy Navel. Are you crazy? No, it’s summer time and it is hot! Here is the skinny! Grab your favorite glass with your favorite type of ice and pour peach schnapps and OJ. Stir, squeeze a lime and you have a Fuzzy Navel. If you want to start your afternoon on the heavy side, pour in some vodka and you now have what is called a Hairy Navel. Your choice, but have fun! Down the road we go. Are you ready? Our destination is often described as America's most charmingly situated state capital. It's wise to note that the references refer to the surrounded-by-nature (mountains and ocean) aspect of the city. The only way in or out of town is by air or sea. No roads lead to this city. You guessed it! It’s Juneau! Gold put Juneau on the map in the 1880s, though the mining camp had several other names before prospector Joe Juneau got his to stick. Gold remained the mainstay until the mine was shut down in 1944. Juneau became the political center when Alaska became the 49th state in 1959. Wake up sleepy head a new day is here. When I first looked out of our balcony into the harbor it was foggy, overcast and misty. This was OK with me. I love exploring and taking pictures in this type of weather. This day was very special to me because Janet's main goal on this trip was to see wildlife and whales! Whales, are you kidding me? Will we get blown away? We need nourishment for our journey so we head out to get some breakfast. It is amazing the amount of selections that we have for food. I know that there are 1900 people plus staff on this boat, but what an undertaking. Stuffed to the gill and with enough in reserve for hibernation, we get ready to waddle off of the ship. We made our shore excursion with Shore Trips. No big groups for us. We meet our driver at the pier and he takes us to the Auke Bay boat harbor where we will meet our Captain for the day. It takes about 25 minutes to get to Auke Bay boat harbor and we meet the other couple going with us. I am not kidding 2 couples and a Captain. A little travel agent speech, book your shore excursions with the independent operators like Shore Trips uses. The cruise lines like to scare you about missing the boat and you are on your own getting back. Come join our big group of people where you fight for viewing rights. Sorry to get off track, but it is just not right. Don't get me wrong. I love groups, but the ones that I am associated with. The captain gave us a brief overview of our boat as we get ready to head out in search of the whales. Our whale watching excursion begins in beautiful Auke Bay. It is still foggy and misty. It is awesome going into the unexpected. Janet is now in Assistant Captain mode and on the move. She has already become friends with the Mr. Captain and is now worked her way to his assistant. We make our way through the fog and mist and now we can see what lies ahead. It was a little choppy, but not too bad. We cruise around for a bit and we see a few blowing streams of water in the distance. We know you are there. Oh Mr. and Mrs. Whale, where are you? All kidding aside we saw many whales. There were Orcas and Humpbacks everywhere. Janet was like a kid in a candy store. She stayed in with the Captain and spotted for him and then would come out on the back of the boat and get a close up. The boat was not huge, but big enough to make us feel like we would not tip over. The Humpbacks were defiantly bigger than we were. As an amateur photographer my photo opportunities were incredible. I love the low hanging clouds and mist. While it might look spooky, it was so surreal. We cruise along the shorelines of Admiralty Island, known as the "home of the bears". It boasts the largest concentration of Alaskan Brown Bears and nesting Bald Eagles in the world. We saw many Bald Eagles and nests on the shores, but no Brown Bears. They are so amazing! While cruising around we get to see two beautiful lighthouses, Point Retreat Lighthouse and Sentinel Lighthouse. Then we see a buoy off in the distance and I would call it a Kodak moment. There are seals on this buoy and they are just chillin'. Hopping' on, and then hopping' off. What a site! The next thing I know is a Bald Eagle out of nowhere lands on the buoy and is hanging out with these seals. You have to be kidding me! What a photographer's dream! I think I need a beer. I am still out of breath and off in a short distance we see some Orca's. Can it get any better than this? I don't think so! The 3 hours in the water have gone by so fast, but has left us with some memories that will be with us for a lifetime. It is time to start heading back to the boat harbor. I take a moment to reflect on this grand morning. We are blessed to have a place like this to go and the ability to share the same space with these amazing creatures. We make it back to the harbor and are met by our driver who will take us back to the ship. We were not scheduled to go to Mendenhall Glacier on this excursion, but we asked if we could stop for a bit and our driver was very accommodating. The Mendenhall Glacier is 12 miles long and 1-1/2 miles wide where it stretches across the Mendenhall Valley. Its ice can be 400 to 800 feet deep. It is located about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. We walked around for about 20 minutes and took some great pictures. It is an amazing site and my pictures do not bring out the true beauty of this glacier. It’s time to head towards the ship and wander around town. Our driver drops us off at the Alaska Cannery and Smokehouse. There are way too many things to sample. Salmon cooked 500 ways. Just kidding, but cooked and smoked with many different flavors. Very yummy! As we have built up a tremendous thirst, we could not leave Juneau without stepping foot and sitting out butts at the bar of the Red Dog Saloon. First, a brief history about the old girl. Founded during Juneau's mining era, the Red Dog Saloon has been in operation for decades. For a time, "Ragtime Hattie" played the piano in white gloves and a silver dollar halter top. Later, in territorial days, the owners would often meet the tour boats at the docks with a mule that wore a sign saying, "follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon." The Red Dog Saloon has been recognized by the Alaska Legislature for its longevity as the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau. We find a couple of seats at the end of the bar and I order an Alaskan Amber. Janet is not a beer drinker, so she had a soda and let me sip my beer while I enjoy the old time feeling in this historic saloon. The shops are calling and Janet is now in her zone. It has been one heck of a day so far. Juneau is an awesome place to visit. I hope to come see her again one day. What is up next? Maybe some Happy Bears! I love HappyBears! Make sure and hit the follow button and you will find out automatically when I write my next blog. Until our trails cross again, Happy Travlin' and make sure you Travel Your Way! I would love for you to leave a comment below. One more thing! How is your Cruisitude today?


Wiregrass Travel said...

I really like the way you incorporate your pics.

John said...

Thanks Jeremy. I hope it helps ell the story.