Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adventures in Alaska: Day Eleven: Juneau, AK

My Mom and I were not optimistic about our adventure in Juneau.  Having spent so much time on busses and on tours, we were starting to get a bit burned out.  We were pleasantly surprised at how our day in Juneau turned out.  We started out by visiting a fish ladder/ hatchery.  What I learned was that the fish return to this spot, much like if it were their natural creek to return to-  the ladder is designed to represent the upward stream motion.  As the fish return, the workers remove the eggs and fertilize.   These are not ideal fish for general consumption but the by product is used.  As the fish eggs hatch, they stay at the hatchery and then are released to enjoy life out in the wild.  About 10%  will return to the hatchery at the end of their life to spawn to continue the process.  It was fascinating really, I'm not entirely sure how the success of the Salmon effects the rest of their ecosystem, but an interesting way to support an industry without it being farm fishing ( where the fish never leave)

After the Hatchery the bus brought us to Mendenhall Glacier within the Tongass National Forest.  We had seen many glaciers earlier in the week, but it was cool to get even closer.  (I am a bit sad that we didn't go on a tour that would allow me to climb on one.) It was raining when we got there, but my Dad and I forged a head to walk to the waterfall a mile away from the visitors center. When we got there, there were only a handful of other people milling around.  The rain did finally stop and as we were leaving to walk back, the views became much clearer

view from the visitors center

The final stop on our ride around Juneau was to Glacier Gardens Rainforest.  While it's hard to believe, parts of Alaska are in fact a rainforest.  Just not a tropical one.  We stopped by this privately owned park to take a ride around.  The owners have created a very beautiful botanical garden near their visitors center, using uprooted trees as hanging baskets.  We piled into golf carts and made our way up the "mountain" our guide was sweet, making jokes and pointing out a few different things a long the way.  At the top there was a bit of clearing which had a nice view of the area.  For the price that they charge, I wouldn't recommend the stop- but since it was included in our ticket for the day, it neat to see.  

I had wanted to stop at Alaska Brewing Company for lunch, but their location is a few miles away from town.  And while I've dragged my parents to Glacier Brewhouse, Denali Brewing Company, and Skagway Brewing Company, I didn't push the issue and we ended up at a place called Rockwell.  I had THE best macroni and cheese I have ever had. So, it was worth it.

We only had a short amount of time in Juneau, and I think there could be more to explore on the historical side, not just the wilderness, but we enjoyed what we did get to see before heading back onto the boat for our next port.

*fun fact, did you know there is NO way to get to Alaska by driving.  The only way to arrive is by plane or boat!

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