TUESDAY, JULY 3, 2012 – PETERSBURG >> JUNEAU
In the morning, T.J. slept in. I walked down to the lobby past the continental breakfast. I saw weird looking muffins, and walked out the door. I went to Papa Bear’s for a waffle. Afterwards, I walked down to the docks and looked at the boats.
T.J. caught up to me on my way back to the hotel. We headed back up Excel Drive, saw the sad looking baseball diamonds, tried unsuccessfully to find the Tlingit & Haida Housing, and walked back to the hotel. On our way, we heard some loud chirping, and saw two bald eagles land in a tree. We think there were babies in a nest that they came to feed. There was no more chirping once the eagles landed.
We passed an antler adorned garage. Standing in the driveway, was what appeared to be a guard reindeer. He was so tame and just watched us. TJ walked quite closed to him.
Back at the hotel, we picked up our bags and got a shuttle ride with a couple from Australia to the ferry dock. While on Fairweather, the high speed ferry, we saw a seal sleeping on a buoy and killer whales jumping alongside the boat. The fast ferry was fantastic!
At the dock in Juneau, we called Capital Cab, who took us ten miles east to the Westmark Baranof Hotel on North Franklin Street at the base of the mountain range.
Juneau, with a population of 31,000, is the capital city of Alaska. It’s the only state capital in the continental U.S. that has no road access and can only be reached by air or water. The Alaska-Juneau gold mine was built on the mainland in 1916 and became the largest operation of its kind in the world. The mine was closed in 1944 when it was declared a non-essential wartime activity. During its years in operation, it produced more than $80 million in gold – which is over $4 billion today.
We checked in, dropped our bags off in our room, and walked down near the cruise ship docks to the Mount Roberts Tram.
On the walk there, I mentioned to T.J. that I think I may be too scared to try the zipline. The tram started its ascent at 5:43pm. Halfway up the tram (which I thought was great), a pale, white-knuckled T.J. assured me was not interested in doing the zipline either.
Six minutes later, the tram let us off at the visitor center 1,800 feet up the mountain. From here, we saw spectacular views of Juneau, Douglas Island, Admiralty Island, Gastineau Channel, the Inside Passage, Lynn Canal, and the Chilkat Mountains.
Outside of the visitor center, we saw a captive, injured bald eagle, with a bad eye, who couldn’t be released back into the wild. We hiked farther up and around the side of Mt. Roberts. It was very dangerous – just ask the Asian men in front of us who were slipping and sliding along the narrow, snow covered trail in their dress shoes. I thought, for sure, I was going to watch one of them slip down the mountainside. They suggested we go ahead of them; we passed very gingerly.
We watched a short film about the Tlingkit community. T.J. came just short of having a panic attack on the tram ride down.
We grabbed a bite to eat at the world famous Red Dog Saloon. A guy at the piano was playing ragtime music. Our waitress was dressed like she stepped out of the late 1800s or early 1900s and stayed in character while she served us. After dinner, we stopped in the Red Dog Gift Shop next door. Then, we went back to our hotel room.
After a short rest, I told T.J. I wanted to go to the Alaskan to have an Alaskan with an Alaskan. Meaning, I wanted to go to the Alaskan Hotel to have an Alaskan beer with an Alaskan resident. He said OK . . . he thought it was a fine idea for me, but he didn’t want to go. So I didn’t go. Minutes later, he asked, “Aren’t you leaving?” I told him no, not if he wasn’t going; I’d be scared. He said “OK, then I’ll go”.
He left without me (so he could privately call his girlfriend) and came back 1 ½ hours later. Poor me. He redeemed himself, though, when he came back and took me down to the wharf to watch the Midnight Fireworks over Gastineau Channel from Marine Park. There were about 18 hours of daylight when we were there – so it had just gotten dark at midnight and the sun would be coming back up soon. The fireworks were amazing! We thought the boat that they shot the fireworks off from was going to go up in flames, but it was all part of the show.
We got a cookie from the hotel lobby before going up to our room.