Alaska

Tuesday, July 12th:
we woke up at 5am, stopped at Starbucks, and headed to the Amtrak station.
We took took the train from Fresno to northern San Francisco (Richmond stop) and then hopped on the BART (San Francisco’s subway) to SFO airport.
After a layover in Seattle, we finally arrived in Juneau (a mere 16 hours after we were dropped off at the Amtrak station).


By the end of the day I was exhausted and very tired of stupid people/disrespectful travelers; but we were in Alaska so I quickly tried to get in a better mood.
We grabbed our backpacks and jumped on the shuttle to our hotel motel. Then we walked down the street to meet up with Aaron’s friend Dave for late-night pizza and to discuss our “game plan” for the week.
I quickly zonked out as soon as we got back to the hotel (after a nice, hot shower to rinse the travel day off of me).

Wednesday, July 13th:
Woke up to sunshine, birds chirping, and the most beautiful Alaskan scenery you can imagine.
Luckily, the best breakfast place in town was in the parking lot of our hotel motel so we got ready and decided to check that out.
Great soy late! Great tofu scramble! and, strangely enough, great whole grain bread with all natural jam!
After breakfast Dave came to pick us up. We actually checked out of the hotel because we had no idea where we were sleeping for the next few nights. While enroute to Dave’s grandparents house (who, were out of town for the week) to drop off our luggage, he decided that since it was such a beautiful day- we should go hike Mendenhall Glacier!
We grabbed a few items for lunch, threw them in our daypacks, and headed to the trail.
From the trailhead to about a mile in we were on actual “trail”; then we came upon a sign “maintained trail <– ; unmaintained and dangerous trail –>”
we took the “unmaintained and dangerous” trail and were quickly scaling rocks and bush-wacking through Alder trees on our way to the glaciers face. It wasnt an “easy” trail in the sense that there was no trail at all; but the difficulty was slim. As long as a person is physically fit, not incredibly overweight, and has some endurance- they would be fine. We finally arrived at the face of the glacier and decided to sit in a small valley of silt (away from the freezing glacial wind) to eat our lunches. As we were sitting down we saw 3 kayakers in the water, right in front of the face of the glacier (a rather dangerous place to be considering the water is about 33 degrees and glaciers are unstable and can send large chunks of ice toward you at any point) we all joked about how stupid those kayakers were, but went about eating our lunches. About half-way through my veggie and blackbean burrito I decided I was done. Instead of throwing it in our “trash” bag; I kept it separate just in case I got hungry on our trek back. About 5 minutes after we had cleaned up/packed up our lunch stuff we saw some other hikers who were desperately trying to get our attention. “do you have a phone?? a guy overturned in his kayak and has been in the water for 5 minutes already!”
we had our phones, and Dave and Aaron each made separate calls to 911.
we scrambled down towards the waters edge to see if we could help. One of his fellow kayakers managed to get him on the front tip of his kayak, but the 3/4 of the guys body was still submerged in the frigid water. Finally, after waving our arms and yelling at them, the kayakers made it to the silty bank near us and Aaron and Dave we able to help pull him out of the water. He had been IN that icy water for 15-20 minutes. We all honestly feel that 10 more minutes and he would have been dead.
As soon as they helped get him up near me, I immediately told him that he needed to get those cold clothes off.
His response: “Im from here”
Me: “thats not what I asked; you have to get those cold clothes off now!”
Meanwhile, a few other hikers had noticed the commotion and made their way to where we were. Between all of us, we were able to get the guy completely undressed and in a new, warm pair of boxers, shorts, a tshirt, and a light jacket. It wasnt really enough clothes to warm him, but at least he wasnt cold and wet. Then he said he was hungry….
the burrito!! So I gave him the burrito and apologized for it having been already eaten off of.
After another 20 or so minutes in the cold, glacial wind, a fire rescue/paramedic team boat showed up and took him off to a nearby hospital.
We have no idea what came of his situation, all I know is that when we left us, he was a shade of blue I have never seen a human being and was shivering uncontrollably.
After his rescue boat was out of sight, we went about our hike.
We hiked on and around the glacier and then filled up our water bottles with some glacier melt… oh my GOD I have never tasted water so amazingly delicious as glacier melt water. And, after some careful calculations, we decided that due to where the melt was coming from the water was approximately 250 years old πŸ™‚

It took us a couple of hours to hike/rock scale our way back to the car, and then we headed to Dave’s friends house because he was having a BBQ.  At the BBQ we met up with Dave’s girlfriend, Jessica and had a good time eating (they had veggie burgers!) and meeting some of their Alaskan friends. Around 10pm (it was still daylight out, mind you) we decided to run by Dave and Jessica’s house to get their stuff, stop by Dave’s grandparents house to get our stuff and the proceed to North Douglas Island to camp for the night. By the time we got to North Douglas, hiked to our camping spot, set up the tents and started the fire it was well past midnight and the sun had just completely gone down. We sat by the fire drinking Alaskan beers and watching the cruise ships sail away; while I am not a fan of cruise ships, they are quite beautiful when completely lit up and are sailing away in the pitch black darkness of the ocean waters.  (No, I am not a fan of cruise ships. I know many people that love them, but my dislike for them is slowly become more of a “loathe” of them…. I dont believe they allow a person to fully experience a city/town/place and the “tourist traps” near the cruise ship docks are about all of the place cruise shippers ever seen. Cruisers leave the ship, buy a tshirt or eat at a restaurant somewhere near the dock, and then get back on the ship thinking that have “experienced” said place. I do not agree. There is ONE cruise that I would like to do (the Mediterianian Cruise) but thats only because I actually want to see the waters and coast line of the area… and then go back and visit the ports on my own accord. But, I digress….)

It wasnt long after the final cruise ship left our sight that our fire died down. Then we all went to our tents and went to sleep.

Thursday, July 14th:
I woke up to Aaron saying that he saw a bear.
I didnt, obviously, because I was happily sleeping in the comfort of my down sleeping bag.
We got up, Aaron made coffee, and we sat watching the ocean as we sipped our coffee.
Dave and Jessica woke up and we decided to head back into town and eat at the Sandpiper cafe again.

After breakfast Jessica and Dave had to go to work, but they pulled some strings and got us on the Whales and Trails tour. It was a 5 hour tour that allowed us to see the glacier from the visitors center (which was about a mile away from the glacier face) and then we went out on the water and were fortunate enough to see bubble-net feeding!

Upon our return from the tour, we went to The Hangar for a fresh, grilled halibut sandwich and a [few] beers.

Dave, Jessica, and our Whales and Trails tour guide Stacy joined us, and then Dave drove us back to his grandparents house.
I was finally able to shower (note: I had not showed since Wednesday morning, before the glacier hike) and we ended up staying the night there.

About 20 minutes after my shower I was fast asleep. I was completely exhausted.

Friday, July 15th:
We woke up Friday, got ready, and jumped on the city bus towards downtown Juneau.
I tell ya, there is no better way to see a town than by riding their mass transit. You get to see the nice areas, the bad areas, and its great for people watching the locals!
We went to breakfast at Paradise Cafe and then wandered around the downtown area that was NOT the touristy places. We tried out the local coffee shop, Heritage Coffee, and looked for potential hotels for our next visit to Juneau.

We got back on the bus and headed north to the Alaskan Brewing Company.

We did some beer tasting and toured the brewery and while we were there Dave called us and suggested heading out camping for the night.
He came to pick us up, we stopped by grandparents house to grab our backpacks, then we went grocery shopping for food and beer for the next couple of days (at this point, we had no idea how many days/nights we were going to be out).

Within an hour we had driven [almost] to where “the road” in Juneau ended (its only 40 something miles long; have I mentioned that Juneau is landlocked? You cannot drive in or out of Juneau, the only way in is by boat or plane) and had hiked out to our camping spot on Eagle Beach. We sat by the fire and drank and ate and talked and laughed and listened to whales singing until the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday, July 16th:
we woke up, made our coffee, and slowly packed up our things.
we hiked back to the cars and drove the 5 miles or so to the trailhead of the Herbert Glacier.
we biked approx 4 miles to where the bike trail ends and the “hiking trail” began (I use that term loosely because there is no maintained trail, just as the Mendenhall Glacier, we bush-wacked and rock scaled our way to the glacier).
We ate lunch at the glacier and spent some time relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous scenery.
After a couple of hours we headed back to the bikes, and biked back to the cars.
Jessica had to head to work, so we said our goodbyes to her and then we grabbed our backpacks and biked the 4ish miles to Boy Scout Beach, our next camping location.

we actually saw bubble-net feeding from our campsite that night! Which was amazing. Words cannot describe how amazing it is to be able to listen to the whales sing, eagles gawk, and the ocean waves as you fall asleep.

Sunday, July 17th:
We got up, had a nice, enjoyable morning of coffee drinking, book reading, and ocean watching.
We slowly packed up our things and headed back to the bikes so that we could bike to the car.
Once in the car we decided to drive around and see some of the breathtaking scenery at the North end of The Road.

On our way back to town we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant/bar that is famous for their fresh halibut fish and chips. They were delicious!

Then Dave dropped us off at his grandparents house. I finally showered (note- I hadnt showered since Friday morning), did some much needed laundry (all of our stuff smelled like campfire) and then fell fast asleep just as the thunderstorms.

Monday, July 18th:
we woke up, finished laundry, and packed up our things.
Dave and Jessica came to pick us up (we were going to take the bus downtown, but it was raining quite heavily).
We said goodbye to the grandparents house because that was the last we would be seeing of it on this trip.
We ate, yet again, at the Sandpiper Cafe, and then checked our luggage with the hotel motel front desk as it was too early to check in.
Dave and Jessica went off to work and Aaron and I wandered around Juneau. We ate, we went beer hopping, we shopped, etc etc etc.
It was a lovely, rainy, day.
We went to dinner at The Pasta Shop (the Sandpiper Cafe’s sister restaurant) and had a lovely dinner.
Then it was time to shop for some sustenance for the next day (we were going on a 9 hour boat tour and would need food and beers!)
We came back home, and fell asleep rather quickly.

Tuesday, July 19th:
the alarm blared at 5:45am.
We each got up, got ready, and made sure our ice chest was packed with goodies for the day.
We boarded our tour boat at 7:30am and embarked on the 9 hour (total) boat tour to see the North and South Sawyer glaciers which are so far from any type of civilization they are only accessible by boat.

we came back, had a drink and fresh halibut fish and chips one last time, and then called it a night.

Wednesday, July 20th:
our alarm blared early again, and we got ready, grabbed our things, and jumped on the shuttle to the airport.

our Alaska trip was officially over, thus commencing the “adventure” portion of our 3 week vacation.
we have HUNDREDS if not thousands of pictures that have yet to be uploaded… once we do, we will post them on Picasa and Ill post the link for your viewing pleasure.

up next, Chicago!
the “gluttonous, food tour” portion of our 3 week vacation! πŸ™‚

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