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Old 10-14-2013, 03:15 PM   #211
zweihund
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Originally Posted by jedijill View Post
I wonder if the shops were just overwhelmed by the crowd from the extra ship. No matter what reason, no reason to treat you guys like that! Glad the day ended up on a positive note.

Jill in CO
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Yikes! Sorry to hear about all the cranky Alaskans!
I'm not sure what happened....everyone was so nice and pleasant last time we were there! I'm guessing it was the combo of unseasonable warmth and an extra ship in port. It was truly grump-tastic!

We had a great day overall, nonetheless
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:27 AM   #212
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Could it have been a town wide bad day? Maybe they all got out of bed on the wrong side.

Hope the Alaskans cheer up at your next stop.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:27 AM   #213
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New update - WHALES!!!

I must say, I am proud of our little peanut for holding it together for as long as she did. I cant imagine how awful she must have been feeling, and yet the only manifestation at this point in the vacation was whininess. Whininess I attributed to her just being out of her element. Whininess I found INCREDIBLY annoying. And all the time she was sick. *Sigh*

That night we ordered her usual mini burgers and she barely touched them. She didnt want the fruit our head server so graciously brought over. She might have had a bite of bread. I lost track of what night she stopped eating. I do remember asking her why she wasnt eating, and thinking it odd that she whined my teeth hurt.

Your teeth hurt. Ok. Sure. *Eyeroll*

The next day was Juneau, and we were scheduled for the whale watching and glacier tour. Upon waking Isabelle seemed fine again. She even ate some breakfast! In retrospect I realize she ate softer foods&yogurt, syrup-soaked pancakes, etc.

And I will have you know, no pastries made their way from the buffet to my purse! Not today, I had learned my lesson. Besides, I was less concerned about packing snacks because I knew (from last time) there would be snacks on the boat. I still packed a few things for our group the last protein bar for the hubs, some squeezy applesauce and fruit snacks for the peanut and EXTRA goldfish so there would be enough for any famished adults. Also, I was sure to finish my coffee BEFORE stepping off the ship, just in case.

You think a 3 year old with hand, foot and mouth disease is cranky? You have not seen me in the morning before my coffee.

We boarded the bus and headed for the docks. This tour was on one of the bigger vessels, but its a pontoon boat so it can actually still get pretty close to the whales. Ive never been on one of the smaller ones, but with two kids under the age of four it didnt seem wise this go around. And we got an amazing close-up encounter, so we missed out on NOTHING.

The vessel is run by Marine Tours, they have a nice little fleet that is run like a family business. All of the crew were incredibly nice. The captain was actually our naturalist two years ago, and she was great. We spent a little time with her and her photographer buddy in the wheelhouse, and you could tell she genuinely loved her job and knew a lot about the marine life. She talked to all of the kids like they were people. One little boy was recounting all of the sea creature knowledge he had learned on Octonauts one of Isabelles favorite shows as well our captain was very impressed. And when the whale would move from one side of the boat to the other, she welcomed us to pass right through the wheel house.

Here are a few early shots.

Very brave &/or crazy.



The back of Mendenhall glacier&.is that like the backside of water?



Another glacier that I forgot the name of. At some point in Alaska, the glaciers become commonplace.



Eagles, eagles, everywhere eagles&





In 2011, we were incredibly lucky to see as many humpbacks as we did, and doubly lucky for having been around as an orca pod was hunting. No orcas this year&.but we did get up close and personal with this guy:



Getting ready to dive.



Whale tail!



We had been following him for a bit, and just when we thought he was done he did a lunge feed came about halfway up out of the water and slowly slid back in. It was awesome. Of course, by the time Lionel snapped the pic it was nothing but bubbly water. Still, WOW. You know the whales are big, but sometimes even when you are that close you dont realize they are REALLY BIG.

Pectoral fin!



And then? One came up for a breath so close to the boat, Lionel couldnt get the whole whale in the shot. Amazing.

Oh, um, hello there! This is not zoomed in. Really.



I didn't include tons of whale pics in this post, because these were the coolest "experiences" - if you will. We had TONS of pics. Whale hump, whale tail, whale breathing...if it were possible to bore a person with whale pics, I could easily accomplish that with minimal effort.

Sadly it was time to go after that, but on the way out we saw some sea lions playing some silly game on a buoy. The would hop up, and then hop back into the water. They did this several times as we passed.

The only thing better than a buoy is a buoy covered in sea lions



Two and a half hours passed in no time at all. Izzy and Paige were champs throughout the whole tour. When youre three? And on a whale tour? Once youve seen a whale its time to move on. The crew had provided wildlife coloring pages and crayons and they were having a blast. While wildlife was happening all around them, their main concern was finding the pink crayon.

Isabelle was still in good spirits, but would not eat her goldfish. She ate a little applesauce but that was about it. Last time she gobbled up the salmon crackers but this year she avoided them like they were brussel sprouts.

We took one last pic on the way back the family. Note the new humpback whale plushie, which Izzy named "Faline." Hey, rhymes with baleen!



Up next: we head to Mendenhall Glacier for bear patrol!

Last edited by zweihund; 10-25-2013 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 10-26-2013, 05:10 PM   #214
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lovely family photo
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:43 PM   #215
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lovely family photo
Thanks! We were trying so hard not to squint - it was really sunny!

I have the rest of Juneau nearly complete, look for an update within the next few days!
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Old 10-29-2013, 05:18 PM   #216
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Juneau Part Two - Electric Boogaloo

I had been pretty excited about seeing Mendenhall close up – last time we only saw it from the window of the bus – but by the time we got there Izzy had shed her champ persona and had gone into pre-meltdown mode. She was having NONE of this “hey, I know, let’s go look at a glacier” business. She wouldn’t even smile at the driver, who had been her buddy up until that point. This did not bode well. The last ones off the bus, Lionel and I were both a little on edge (cranky kids will do that to you). My plan was to hang around and quietly watch the glacier while Isabelle pouted in her stroller. Lionel, on the other hand, had bigger plans: HIKE TO THE WATERFALL.

I said “go ahead, Izzy and I will stay here.” Cue whining child.

“I don’t WAAAAAAAANT to stay here! I want to go with DAAADDDDYYYYYY!”

You’ve read the other trip reports, you’ve heard the stories…what is the biggest complaint about the 45 minute stop at the visitor center? Ding ding ding! Not enough time to hike to and from the waterfall without running a 10 minute mile. We had a choice to make. I mean, in all likelihood this was going to be our last time in Juneau, and the odds of ever returning to Mendenhall Glacier were slim to none. I didn’t want to deny the hubs his trip to the falls. But I also knew he’d never make it there on his own with a cranky kid in an umbrella stroller.

And that, my friends, is the story of how the three of us sprinted to and from the waterfall at Mendenhall Glacier. Ever push a stroller along a rock path at top walking speed for 15 minutes? Well, take my advice – DON’T.

And folks, while I was really hoping to get in an “I told you so” or two? It was TOTALLY worth it!

I see you through the trees, you sneaky glacier…



Getting closer….



Aaaaand, BOOM!



So here’s the deal with the hike.

Pros:

• It’s a nice little hike, mostly level terrain
• Lots of fauna to look at
• Cool streams in every direction….you can reach out and touch them
• The view at the end is pretty spectacular

But there are also cons:

• For most of the hike, you can only see glimpses of the glacier through clearings in the trees – and there are a LOT of trees…you also really have no scale for how near the end you might be, it winds and winds and winds
• It’s a little tight….so when you pass people, you have to suck in your shoulders and watch that you don’t clobber them with your backpack
• Bears. Enough said. We didn’t see any, but still
• Not much time for anything else, other than turning around and heading back

Yes, we did kind of have to haul butt. But unless you are a slow walker, there was enough time to take in the glacier and the falls both along the way and at the end. We stopped several times, just not for very long. We even risked letting Izzy out of the stroller at one point, because she wanted a rock.

(I’m sure violated several federal laws by smuggling back a pebble from the Mendenhall Glacier path, please don’t turn me in to the authorities…it was all in the name of distracting the grumpy kid so Lionel could take photos with at least a single free hand)

Me, triumphant at the end of the path.



Crazy folks out on the sandbar!



Crazier folks climbing an unstable rock formation near a giant roaring waterfall – this, friends, is why I will always have a job.



And, some random glacier pieces. Floating in a lake. Which was kind of surreal.



We pseudo-sprinted back up the path because I wanted to check out the gift shop. Lionel took Izzy to the kid tent (a little education booth set up behind the center) to pet a wolf pelt and touch a piece of glacier ice. Which by the way, she described as “cold.” The visitor center had some cute trinkets, tons of books and lots of panels filled with glacier facts. I didn’t have time to read many of them, but I did learn that the glacier has receded significantly over the past 20 years. There were pictures from ages ago. And it’s huge today, but back then? GINORMOUS. Global warming is a harsh mistress, she is.

My parents were in the gift shop as well. They were surprised we had braved the path. They had sat quietly watching the glacier, and then wandered into the visitor center to read all of the glacier trivia. Stef, Jason and Paige had gone down and picked dandelions by the edge of the lake, watched the glacier and visited the tent. They may or may not have also smuggled a rock.

So on this portion of the excursion you have a lot of options, depending on what you want out of your glacier experience. Do you want to sit and take in the scenery? Or do you want to be active? Or, do you want to shop and learn? If you get your timing right, you can probably even accomplish two out of the three. Quick note: we were instructed to leave all food items on the bus, even unopened packages, because while we did not actually SEE any bears they can be troublesome. And apparently, they can also get aggressive. I didn’t get a picture of the trash bins, but they were like Fort Knox for bears. Don’t mess with ‘dem bears.

The driver made an extra stop on the way back to the ship for those of us wishing to explore the town. Lionel being the super-dad that he is offered to take Isabelle back to the ship, knowing I wanted to shop and that there was no way in HECK that Izzy would last any longer. He sent me along with the ‘rents with his camera. UNSUPERVISED.

Ok. He took the expensive rental lens back with him, but still. It was a nice gesture.

Cool pics along the way…







What struck me most about Juneau is that unlike Skagway and Ketchikan, the heart of the shopping area is also the main hub in town. It felt different. There were touristy shops, sure. But there were also coffee bars and pubs and tons of locals just going about their daily routines. Between each of the “blocks” of buildings were looooong staircases, which the locals use to walk to and from the center of town.





I won’t say it was a welcoming vibe, but it certainly wasn’t UNwelcoming. Most folks just seemed kind of indifferent. It was funny to see people on their laptops sipping lattes at the local coffee house, which was right across the street from a tacky tourist shop. It reminded me of a New England beach town. Except, you know, with more salmon products.

Oddly, we were panhandled by a man who was clearly drunk at about 1pm. He followed us for a bit, and asked us again for money when we came out of another store. Because he either forgot he had already asked us, or assumed we would think he was a totally different drunk Alaskan wearing a white (or at least, I’m pretty sure it used to be) hockey sweatshirt.

We had been blessed with amazing weather again, and it would have been a spectacular day for the tramway. But, the parents were not particularly interested and Stef and Jason had gone off in search of more shopping. Also, I didn’t want to leave Lionel for too long without any backup, and I figured a round trip on the tram would be at least an hour or two. So I took a picture instead!



It was easy to hitch a ride on the Disney bus from the center of town….you really don’t want to try and walk back on your own. It was a quick trip, and the buses ran pretty regularly. I didn’t wait long at all.

Up next: swimming in Alaska? Heck yeah! And, we party with Mike Wazowski.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:27 PM   #217
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Be very, very glad you found that Disney shuttle in Juneau. Alas, I did not. The 4 boys (ages 11-19, thankfully) and I walked uphill the entire way back to the ship. It might LOOK close, but it is NOT! Of course all of the boys beat me. In fact, my husband and our friends who chose to stay back and have a drink before heading back to the ship ALMOST beat me. At least I was nice and called them while I was WALKING after I finally noticed all those buses that kept passing me with little signs in the window that said Disney. And to think I had been worried that they would miss the all aboard time.
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Old 10-30-2013, 03:02 AM   #218
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We went to the glacier before whale watching and the bus nearly left without us as we'd gone over the 45 minute time slot by trying to do everything.
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Old 10-30-2013, 02:49 PM   #219
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Be very, very glad you found that Disney shuttle in Juneau. Alas, I did not. The 4 boys (ages 11-19, thankfully) and I walked uphill the entire way back to the ship. It might LOOK close, but it is NOT! Of course all of the boys beat me. In fact, my husband and our friends who chose to stay back and have a drink before heading back to the ship ALMOST beat me. At least I was nice and called them while I was WALKING after I finally noticed all those buses that kept passing me with little signs in the window that said Disney. And to think I had been worried that they would miss the all aboard time.
Yes, it was a deceivingly long way back! Stef and Jason made the mistake of walking....and it took them forever!

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We went to the glacier before whale watching and the bus nearly left without us as we'd gone over the 45 minute time slot by trying to do everything.
It's funny, both excursions we did took place in the reverse order Disney said they would...I THOUGHT we were doing the glacier first, but then we drove right past it and headed to the docks! Yeah, you can't exactly linger at Mendenhall....I spent less than 10 minutes in the gift shop before heading to round up the troops.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:46 PM   #220
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Happy New Year, Erica! I was able to FINALLY convince my teenage sons- we are goin' to Alaska, baby!!!

So....will you be coming back soon...pleeeeeeeze?
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Old 02-16-2014, 03:40 PM   #221
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I'm going on this cruise on September 1 this year and came across your trip report. Great pictures and information and your little one is too cute. I hope you come back to finish the report
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