Sunday, September 17, 2017

Molly Goes North: Part 7 (Juneau)

(Previously: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6)

Friday, August 25

The ship docked in Juneau around 6:45am that morning, and Heather was out of the room by 7 to meet her excursion, a Whale Watching tour through Harv & Marv's

Whale watching wasn't particularly high on my Alaska wish list. I preferred to do something involving glaciers or bears. In the end, glaciers won. DCL's photos of the Mendenhall Lake Canoe Adventure sold me. (There was a similar excursion via kayak, but I thought it would be best to have some support paddlers on my team, as I hadn't paddled anything in years.)

I woke up around 8 and had breakfast in the room. I had a few "leftover" snacks and desserts I'd gleaned from Cabana's the previous day and kept in the room fridge.

My excursion met at Azure at 8:45. I got there a few minutes early, but a CM there told me I needed picture I.D. This is standard practice, but I'd totally forgotten it, so I had to run back to the room (on the other end of the ship) and then back. I'd gotten a "Donald" sticker, and as soon as I got back with my I.D. they were calling the Donalds. They led us off the ship and onto a blue bus.

The guy driving the bus was an older man who used to live in Juneau but now just spent summers there. He gave us an audio tour of the town as he drove us to Mendenhall Lake. If you're familiar with the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, our canoe-launching location was across the lake from that.

Here are two photos from where we set out a short while later. You can see the glacier across the lake to the left and Nugget Falls straight ahead. They look so close, but they are not. These pics were taken about 9:37am -- keep that in mind.

Everyone on our excursion (I think they said there were 22 of us) was given a chance to use the restrooms (sketchy portas) and then shown to a covered area where we were loaned waterproof gear to wear. They lent us pants like firefighters wear -- with the suspenders, rain jackets, and boots. And we had to wear life jackets, of course. We were all bulgy after gearing up, but it was just as well, as the air was chilly and the water itself (which we tried not to splash on ourselves as we went) was near freezing.

We were split into two groups, probably based on weight or family sizes or something. One group had 9 people and the other 13. The 9 group, which I was in, lacked the misbehaving kids the other group seemed to have, and for that I was grateful. (Our group did have 2 well-behaved tweens.) I was the only solo in our canoe, so they had me sit in the back seat. Well, technically, our guide had the back seat. He was on a kind of raised seat where he could see everything well and steer and whatever else. I was just in front of him, though. This was the best seat, I thought, because everyone else had to paddle on just one side the whole way across the lake, whereas I got to (read: had to, because I am a wimp) change arms/sides every few minutes.

As you can see, we had some fog...

...but we still had great views!

The photo above was taken at 10:04 am. Six minutes of paddling later...

It's the same distance away!

Meanwhile, former pieces of the glacier floated by (or we paddled by them)...

There's Nugget Falls. We'll visit that soon....

Here's the glacier again, at 10:25...

And 11 minutes later...

And two seconds later...

Augh!!! Oh wait, that's just me using the zoom.

Selfie with glacier.

We now turn our attention (and our canoe) toward Nugget Falls...

Here it is! Somewhere on the mountain there were 2 goats.We saw little dots moving.

We got out of the canoe at the base of the falls and stepped onto the beach.

My camera was getting very wet.

The tour company provided us with snacks...

Water and hot cider, too.

All aboard! Back across the lake we go...

There's the other canoe from our excursion...

Our guide told us that these ice chunks will break off from the glacier and then float for days or even weeks before melting. One could break off at any moment, so there could be surprises every time you come out on this lake.

My camera got moisture on the lens (it's waterproof, so no big deal) but I didn't have anything dry to wipe it off, so this kept happening....

I kind of like the effect, though.

And we're back!

After extracting ourselves from, and returning, all our waterproof gear, we walked back up to the road. Our bus arrived about 15 minutes later, and it took us back to the ship...

Back in the room, this was waiting...

Heather wasn't back yet, so I got lunch, watched some TV, and eventually started to worry... where was she, and why wasn't she back yet?


Heather's Juneau Adventures
Courtesy of Heather

I booked a whale-watching tour with Harv and Marv. It was only me and a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary (25th? 30th?). 

I learned a lot about how to spot humpback whales. I also learned each one is unique based on their tail (shape and color). We also saw sea lions and a pod of Dall's porpoises.

Photo by Heather M.

Photo by Heather M.

Photo by Heather M.

After the whale-watching tour, I had enough time to go to Mendenhall Glacier before I needed to be back on the ship. Before the trip I read you could take a bus from downtown Juneau. The city bus only cost $2 to ride. 

Photo by Heather M.

The ride takes about an hour because you wind through the city and make stops along the way. I met a nice group of retired teachers from Australia who were also headed to the glacier. Chatting with them on the bus helped pass the time. 

Photo by Heather M.

When we finally reached our destination the bus driver told us to follow the road (highway) to the glacier. I knew I would need to walk to get there but it was a bit longer than I had expected. It was nice to walk around, though, after being at sea for several days. The walk was around 1.5 miles.

Once I got to the National Park you could go to a lookout point and see the glacier and waterfall or take a 45 minute (I think) walk to the beach by Nugget Falls. If you have time I highly recommend doing the extra walk to the beach.

Photo by Heather M.

Photo by Heather M.

Photo by Heather M.

While I was at the glacier, I ran into the couple from the whale watching excursion a few hours prior. I said hello and we walked down the path to the waterfall together. I took a few photos for them and then I bid them adieu. I was a little worried about time so I wanted to head back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. I made the trek back to the bus and thankfully only had to wait a few minutes for it to arrive. I confirmed with a local man on the bus that I was indeed headed back to downtown, and we chatted for a bit. The bus ride back was another hour, but it provided a nice little tour of the town. Eventually I made it back to downtown Juneau!

I waited for the shuttle that takes you back to the ship and I saw the newlyweds [C. and B., our female tablemates.]

The line for the bus back was really long. I thought about walking back to the ship but I was confident I would get a spot on the next bus so I waited 5 mins.

So, now we know what Heather was up to! It's funny that we both made it to Nugget Falls that day, but in entirely different ways.

While she was still out and about that afternoon, I was on board, eating ice cream, taking photos...

By 3:30 pm, I still hadn't seen or heard from Heather, so my brain decided her whale excursion boat had been overturned by a rogue sea mammal. I tried texting her, but while my phone had a signal, hers did not. 

Convinced she had to be back soon (because the alternative was too terrible -- missing the ship, nooo!), I got us both cocoas and left one for her in the room. I went and sat on the deck and took in the views while I drank my hot chocolate and tried not to panic.

At last I got a text from her via the Navigator App that she was back on board! Yay!
Soon we would be pulling out of port. I had this sudden urge to go to the gym. I didn't step in the gym a single time on C1 and I'm kind of surprised I went there on this cruise. Turns out it's a really picturesque spot. I sat (and vaguely peddled) on one of the bikes and watched both The Little Mermaid...

... and I watched us pull away from port! You can kind of see the bridge of the ship, there below.

I stayed there about an hour. After I left the gym, I took in some more sights via the deck (probably 4, as I love it so.)

The show that night was Frozen: A Musical Spectacular. 

As I understand it, this show just debuted last year, and is only on the Wonder at the moment. While Frozen isn't high on my list of favorite Disney movies, I try not to miss any of the Broadway-style shows on these cruises, because they're really outstanding. However, the show was supposed to start at 6, but I lost track of time. Heather (who was nice enough to wait for me) and I hurried down and got there with just minutes to spare. We couldn't find seats together, so I sat by a family who kept switching seats, and Heather sat in an awkward location where she couldn't see the whole stage (but she could see some of the goings-on in the wings.)

The show began. Kristoff collected some ice. Baby Elsa and Anna romped around. Then the theater's lights came on and an announcement was made that they were experiencing technical difficulties! We waited. Maybe 10 minutes later, someone came out and announced that there was something going on with the computer(s) that controlled the puppetry in the show, and in order to fix it, they had to do a hard reboot of their systems. So they tried that, and it apparently didn't work, so they tried it again, and I think it was about 6:35 when they got it working and the show began again. 

However, about 6:30, Heather found me and told me she was going to leave. (I didn't blame her, and I almost did myself.) She did end up returning later, found another seat, and saw part of the show.

I thought the show was great. The guy who played Hans looks eerily like the cartoon version. He played Prince Charming in another show, and all I could see was Hans. There were cool special effects, Olaf was hilarious, and the whole thing is only about an hour long, so it sort of rushes through the movie's plot, but that's fine with me.

When it was over, Heather found me again, and we headed to Officer Pin Trading, which was supposed to start at 7:15. Since the show had been delayed, it was well past 7:15 now, but they kept the event going longer, probably for that reason.

Like my experience on C1, I liked trading the pins, but the process was sort of awkward. Many of the officers are pleasant enough, but some look like they'd rather be anywhere else.

I guess this is a good time to talk about pins. I brought a handful to trade and so did Heather, although she was very kind and traded some of hers for pins to give to me. 

Above, Left: Donald pin from The Guys as a trade for a Chip & Dale pin from Heather
Above, Right: Two Donald pins Heather traded and gave to me

Above, Left: Daisy & Donald I got from one of the pin-trading books on board
Above, Right: Lion I traded for at some point thinking it was from Robin Hood, but now realizing it's from Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Oops!

Above, Left: THAT's Robin Hood's hat, yes?
Above, Right: Another Donald

Above: Bought these from ship's gift shop.

I really didn't get many souvenirs this trip. Just these pins and a few things in Ketchikan. And, well, 8,000 photos.

Dinner at Triton's...

C. and B. were at Palo that night, so it was just Heather, me, and The Guys.

(I think?) I ordered the Roast Carrot and Parsnip Salad...

Heather ordered the vegetarian curry, but no entrees looked good to me tonight, so I ordered a baked potato and vegetables...

Why, if there were no good entrees on the menu, did we even come to the dining room that night at all?  

I'll tell you why.


If I recall correctly, all 4 of us ordered Lava Cake.

(Also we came because we liked our tablemates and our servers and... reasons.)

I also got this mint sundae...

What'd we do after dinner? Duh! We went to Azure!

Tonight we played a game called Snippets, where the room was divided into two teams and reps from the teams went to the front. The DJ would play clips from TV shows or movies, and the reps had to hit a buzzer and give the correct answer. They could also run to the audience to get the answers. The audience members weren't supposed to run to them but that happened once or twice. I don't even remember leaving my chair! ;) But... but... they were playing the DuckTales theme! And I apparently got excited. Hahaaaa...

I may have left Azure a little early that night. I wanted to see the Pixar Pals Party in the atrium.

I started off on deck 3...

I was trying to get a picture of Dug, but they all turned out blurry. Then he turned and put his paw up, and the next thing I knew, we were dancing together! Be still my heart!

When Dug went away to be on stage, I moved up to deck 5.

After the characters disappeared from the atrium, I made my way toward our stateroom...

It was a four-chocolate night, and no, I'm not sure what the animal's supposed to be.

No comments: