Saturday, July 7, 2018

Juneau: Whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier

Our second port day was to Juneau.  Whereas Skagway was a very small town, Juneau is a much bigger city and more industrial.  We got off of our ship and were in the middle of a big shipping port.  We had to get on a shuttle to go to the shopping areas.  There were many more shops and restaurants than in Skagway, but it was also much more urban. 

Today's excursion was whale watching.  We used a private tour group again, but it didn't have the same personal feel as in Skagway.  It was a bigger company that had multiple buses, so we kept having different drivers every time we would get on. 

The whale watching was interesting and the guide was very knowledgeable. Everyone got snacks and water, which was nice.  The indoor seating area was really great with a nice kind of bar set up so that you could have your camera or binoculars in front of you.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of outdoor seating, so you pretty much had to stand if you wanted to be outside.  There was an upper deck that gave great views and was less crowded, but there wasn't any seating up there either.  It got a little boring for the kids who weren't really interested at staring at the water for an hour, but we did get to see whales!  We were close enough to one that the guide was able to identify her as Flame, a documented whale that they often see.

We saw some others from farther away, but it was fun to see a whale so close to our boat!  We also saw porpoises, sea lions, and a few bald eagles.  

We found a food truck area and got lunch there.  Amy, Sara, and I ate at The Crepe Escape, which made delicious sweet and savory crepes.  I got a veggie crepe and it was HUGE!  After eating so much rich food on the ship, it really hit the spot. Sara and Amy really liked theirs too.  Matt, Bruce, and the rest of the kids went to a brick oven pizza truck and really liked theirs too. It was nice to eat something a little different from the food on the ship. 

After we finished whale watching, the bus took us to Mendenhall Glacier, which has scenic overlooks, trails, and a nice visitor's center with a gift shop, nature talks, and an excellent viewing area.

Amy and Bruce and their kids hiked to the waterfall, which was about 2 miles round trip.  It was a bit more challenging and not a paved trail, so we opted out of that one.  The photo point was only .3 miles round trip and was handicapped accessible, so we chose that one!

Caleb also really enjoyed climbing on the rocks along the trail.

These beautiful purple flowers were everywhere!

We caught a bus back to the shopping area and walked around for a while, then took a shuttle back to the port around 3:00.  The kids tire out way before we do!

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