USA 2000: Alaska
The record of our trip to the 'Last Frontier': July 27th to August 17th
Day 1: Thursday, July 27th.
Birmingham Airport prior to departure by an American Airlines flight to Chicago.
We then fly on to Seattle
- a total flying time of just over 13-hours.
(2) Friday, July 28th.
After an overnight stay at the Comfort Inn near Seattle Airport, we fly with Alaska Airlines to Alaska's capital
Alaska Airlines Flight 61 takes just over 2-hours to take
us the 894-miles from Seattle to Juneau.
Alaska is one hour behind the Pacific Time Zone that applies in Seattle, and we are now nine hours behind British Summer
Time. We land in Juneau at 9:18am.
After checking-in to our hotel, we arrange for the hotel's courtesy bus to take us to
downtown Juneau - a distance of about 10-miles. Nearing Juneau's centre, the driver stops at a bridge crossing a fast flowing stream.
This stream is the justifiably named Salmon Creek - the creek is completely full of very large, spawning salmon. The salmon are so
tightly packed into the full width of the stream that they appear to be fighting for space in the water.
Unfortunately, it now
begins to rain.
(above and right) Salmon Creek
The courtesy bus takes us to Centennial Hall where we watch a film regarding Glacier Bay. We then shelter from the rain in the excellent
and extensive Alaska State Museum.
The weather continues to be dismal as we walk along Marine Drive to where the cruise liners
tie up. At 2pm, the clouds lift slightly and we ascend to the 2,000-feet level of Mount Roberts by way of the Aerial Tramway.
The poor weather limits the views from Mount Roberts.
Returning to Centennial Hall, we watch a film regarding the Inside Passage as we wait for the hotel's courtesy bus to take us to our
hotel: Grandma's Feather Bed (left).
In keeping with a building full of character, both our rooms have an individual charm, dominated
by huge beds and huge Jacuzzi baths.
With the rain pouring down heavily outside we enjoy an excellent meal that features clam
chowder, salmon, and halibut.
Despite problems with the blinds in both rooms, we get a good night's sleep.
(3) Saturday, July 29th: after an excellent breakfast, we get a taxi to take us the short distance to the Mendenhall Glacier. As the
taxi approaches Mendenhall Lake, the glacier seems to completely fill the road ahead - the horizon is a wall of ice. The overcast
sky and the intermittent drizzle seems to intensify the blueness of the streaks in the ice.
We view the lake and glacier from a number of different viewpoints: the car park; an observation area called Photo Point; and the
visitor centre. Our view from the car park varies from good to poor as the intensity of the rain varies. We are about half-a-mile
from the glacier's 100-foot-high face, the intervening space filled with the 200-feet deep Mendenhall Lake. Floating in the
lake are small icebergs that have calved off the glacier's face.