Alaska - Glacier Bay, Taku, Skagway, Juneau, etc.

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by Nick, Mar 4, 2012.

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  1. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

    Messages:
    11,761
    Location:
    Utah
    July 2010

    This is going to be one huge trip report! For my five year anniversary at my job, my boss sent Audra and I on a 7-day Alaska cruise. We sailed from Seattle on a Saturday and went through Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia.

    First thing to know about sailing from Seattle. The limo rides from the airport are usually cheaper than the Taxi's and they are waaaay nicer. I think we paid $50 or $60.
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    Mount Rainier and the Port of Seattle as we sail out towards the Straight of Juan de Fuca
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    The first day was cold and windy so the outside decks of the Golden Princess were mostly empty.
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    Sunset in the Straight of Juan de Fuca
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    The entire next day was spent at sea en route to Juneau, Alaska. The ships info channel described the seas as 'slight' which meant something like 3-4 foot waves. It wasn't too bad but the rocking and rolling got really old after a while. We spent the day in and out of the buffet and relaxing in our mini suite.

    The next morning we were scheduled to spend the day in Juneau. I awoke to this nice sunrise.
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    We saw a lot of humpback whales as we approached Juneau. Most of them were pretty far away from the ship but it was still really cool to see them going in and out of the water.
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    Free room service. Ya can't beat that.
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    Once we arrived in Juneau we were off to see the Mendenhall Glacier. We booked a cheap ride on an old re-purposed school bus.
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    Audra and I at Mendenhal Glacier. This is the closest you can get to it. I think it was a bout a mile hike from the visitor center.
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    After Mendenhall we made our way back to downtown Juneau not sure how we would spend the rest of our time. Audra and I had discussed doing a float plane trip for months in advance despite her fear of flying. Lucky for us we stopped by the Taku Lodge sales office and they had flights available for later that afternoon. After a little begging, Audra agreed and we were booked. Note to other travelers, it's way cheaper to buy this direct from the Taku people than it is from the cruise ships. I think we saved $60 or $80 per person.
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    The view of cruise ship row from inside the float plane.
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    This is Audra's 'scared to death' face. She was the last one on the plane so she got to sit on the fold down seat in front of the door.
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    Juneau from the air
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    Flying over the nearby glaciers was totally unreal and worth every penny. Notice the helicopter flying below us in this shot for a sense of scale.
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    It's a pretty short flight, maybe 20-30 minutes, before arriving at the Taku Lodge.
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    I'd heard that there were a lot of black bears around so we immediately went out on a little hike to see if we could find some. We came up empty handed, just lots of tracks and the little presents they had left behind.
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    There were 4 or 5 dogs that lived at the Taku Lodge, great for us dog lovers who have to leave ours behind on vacations like this.
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    Just before dinner we had a black bear wonder up. I'd never seen one in the wild, it was like a giant dog in almost every way.
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    One of the employees from the lodge protecting the bear from the tourists.
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    After dinner in the lodge we walked outside to find another bear cleaning off the grill where they cooked the salmon.
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    We sat out in the yard for a while playing fetch with the dogs and watching the bears playing in the nearby bushes. Out of the entire 7 days we spent on this cruise, Taku Lodge was by far the highlight.
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    After the flight we found our way back to the ship and we were on our way to Skagway.
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    The water in Skagway was a cool shade of green, quite different than Juneau.
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    Being in the town of Skagway was an absolute nightmare. There were like 10,000 tourists (no exaggeration, probably more) and they were all packed into a few city blocks. We went into town to buy some drinks and a fishing license and proceeded towards the Dewey Lakes trail to go for a hike.
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    Audra on the trail to Dewey Lakes
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    The far end of Dewey Lake. This is one of the only spots where the shore isn't totally overgrown. This is actually a man made dam.
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    A small reservoir just below Dewey Lake.
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    The sailing out of Skagway is really pretty. There are some waterfalls and Glaciers and we had a never-ending sunset. We bundled up and sat out on the balcony for an hour or two until it was dark.
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    The next day we would wake up already in Glacier Bay. I was stoked to open the curtains and see what might be out there. Unfortunately we were pretty well socked in with fog. Fortunately it started to lift as we got further into GBNP where the goods are. This was the first view of Grand Pacific Glacier.
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    I'm pretty sure these guys have learned to eat well off of cruise ship balconies.
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    Audra and I on our balcony in front of Marjorie Glacier.
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    Time for some scale. See those tiny specs just to the right of where the water pours into the ocean?
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    The tiny specs from the last image, sea kayakers.
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    Johns Hopkins Glacier
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    Audra trying to stay warm.
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    It was like Whale-o-palooza when we left Glacier Bay. Humpbacks breaching left and right, sometimes in tandem. It was quite the show. All of my pics of those are from a good distance but I do like this shot for the scale factor.
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    Long exposure from our balcony at sea. That's one steady ship.
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    The next morning we woke up to the boat already docked in Ketchikan. This was the view from our balcony.
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    There were salmon flying out of the water all over the place. Obviously the pics don't do it much justice but it was really cool.
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    Salmon, salmon and more salmon
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    Creek Street, Ketchikan
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    Creek Street was pretty cool, well worth the walk. After that we walked up to a fish hatchery and a place with a bunch of totem poles. It wasn't all that cool. This is on the walk back towards the cruise ship dock. Amazing how those ships tower over these small towns.
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    Ketchikan, Alaska
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    The rest of the day and much of the next was spent at sea. Blah. Last stop, Victoria, British Columbia.
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    We took the 30 minute walk from the cruise ship terminal into the harbor area.
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    Victoria's Inner Harbor
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    I couldn't not post this.
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    It was pretty crazy around the harbor so we walked a little bit back towards the ship and found a nice place to watch the sunset.
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    Audra
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    And so concludes out trip. We sailed back to Seattle through the night and caught our flight back to Salt Lake. Seattle was overcast and rainy, just what you would expect. It made me more grateful for the great weather we had when we set sail a week earlier.
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    Hoobie, chandlerwest, River and 5 others like this.
  2. Yvonne

    Yvonne I lava it!!!

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Pahoa, HI
    wow, what an amazing trip. Alaska is one the places I want to see so badly. I have a backpacking trip in the Wrangell-St. Elias area in mind, so one day I will head north and enjoy the solitude there.
    But your cruise also sounds like a lot of fun and the pictures are really impressive. What a great landscape :twothumbs:
     
  3. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

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    I definitely want to go back but without the cruise ship. It was nice but I don't think I ever want to step foot on one of those again! Next time I just want to fly in somewhere, rent a car and explore.
     
  4. Yvonne

    Yvonne I lava it!!!

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Pahoa, HI
  5. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

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    That looks amazing! I'd happily pay for the flights for that kind of experience. Way cool that they just drop you off and pick you up instead of doing a full guided thing. Now how to convince my wife to get in a bush plane that lands without an air strip or water.....

    I also wonder why they allocate so many days for so few miles...
     
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  6. kwc

    kwc Member

    Messages:
    38
    Location:
    upstate NY
    We did a similar cruise a few years ago but we started/ended in Vancouver. This is Mrs. kwc at Misty Fiord ...
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    Nick likes this.
  7. kperaka

    kperaka New Member

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    3
    Wow nicely done. I miss Alaska (our favorite destination)
     
  8. chandlerwest

    chandlerwest Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    St. George, UT
    I've did the float plane with my mom to Taku River in 1984!!!!!!!!!!!! I will never forget buzzing across a glacier that dropped into the valley. And when it dropped..... we dropped with it along its face. Nothing but blue ice! Loved the salmon. 3rIcefield.JPG 3vSalmon.JPG
     
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