Alaska Adventure: Capitals & Glaciers, oh my!

Our Wednesday started extremely early when our alarm went off at 5:45am to go see Tracy Arm. Tracy Arm is a passage located about 50 miles south of Juneau, and our ship was scheduled to go in and out of it at 6am.  This passage was extremely thin and featured some rather striking views of coastal mountains, waterfalls, floating ice and the biggest treat at the end: Sawyer’s Glacier.


It was crazy seeing the chunks of ice that sailed by the ship, and just how close some of these came.



We finally got in sight of Sawyer’s Glacier, but due to the level of ice that blocked the passage, our ship was forced to stop with the glacier still a ways away.  To give everyone a view, the ship did a full spin, then made it’s way back out of the passage.


Once we turned around at the glacier it was about 8:30am, so we headed back to bed for a few hours before we would arrive in Juneau at noon.


We were the fourth ship to pull into Juneau at noon. The year-round population of the capital is at about 35,000, so with 4 cruise ships in that day, we increased the population by at least 25%.   Juneau is also the only state capital that cannot be reached by car.  Apparently every road in Juneau eventually has an end, and as a result virtually every good that has reached the city has been barged in.

After arriving, Bethany and I took the walk into town and boarded the shuttle to the Mendenhall Glacier, which is the most-visited glacier in the world.  The glacier observatory had a trail that brought us within a 1/2 mile of the glacier, right next to a beautiful waterfall pouring into Mendenhall Lake.




This was definitely worth the trip. The hike to the falls was only a mile and pretty easy, with the visual payoff being huge.  It’s crazy to think that the Glacier is still so far away, as you can see in the picture, the magnitude of the glacier made it feel a lot closer.

After the bus ride back into town, we stopped back into the Red Dog Saloon, an intricate watering hole that has sawdust all over the floor and one of Wyatt Earp’s guns on the wall.


There was live music, even on a Wednesday afternoon.  Our first singer was a 74-year-old piano player who played a trumpet solo with his right hand while his left hand stayed on the keyboards.  He also was dishing up crude jokes and sharp-witted insults.  Somehow the guitar player following him up also kept up and offered a very entertaining atmosphere.  After knocking back a few drinks at Red Dog, we worked up the courage to try a “Dark Fart”, an incredibly awesome shot that is one part Crown, one part Bailey’s, one part Kailua.


You could spend hours just looking at all the stuff they had on the walls and ceilings, along with an awesome sign that reads: “If our food, drinks and service aren’t up to your standards, please lower your standards!”


Our short time in Juneau came to an end as we walked back to our ship and departed later that evening. Despite only having time to do two things, Juneau definitely showed us a great time!


As we previously mentioned, the death of Bethany’s brother Rocky has been weighing heavily on our hearts.  During our travels we have been looking for opportunities to honor him and reflect on his life.  Our two stops in Juneau gave us two opportunities to do so.



Next Up: Skagway.