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Monday, 26 September 2011

Juneau, Alaska,

Welcome back to my blog. In today's post I'll show you around Juneau, one of three ports which we stopped at in Alaska. Juneau is the capital of Alaska, and has been since 1906. Downtown Juneua is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island.

Above: Downtown Juneau from the ship

The city is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau. One of the most interesting things about the city is that is only accessible by sea and air. Cars and trucks have to be transported to and from Juneau by barge or ferry.

Above: One of the many floatplanes found in Alaska

Above: Juneau at night

One of the most popular places in Juneau is The Mount Roberts Tramway, an aerial tramway stretching from a station on the cruise ship docks to a point on the southwestern ridge of Mount Roberts.

Above: The view from The Mount Roberts Tramway

During my time in Juneau I also visited a salmon hatchery where wild Harbor Seals are known to hang out.

Above: A regular visitor to the Salmon Hatchery

Probably the most famous attraction in Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier, a receding Glacier found to the west of downtown Juneau. Visitors can also visit nearby waterfalls and the visitor centre.

Above: The Mendenhall Glacier Valley

Above: Mendenhall Glacier and waterfall

Above: An up-close shot of the waterfall

I was incredibly fortunate to see a black bear on my way back to the visitor centre at the Mendenhall Glacier. The bear was happily foraging for roots right by the pathway and had attracted a lot of attention. The guides told us she was a regular to the area and probably about 6 years old.

Above: The black bear

I'll show you around Vancouver next time. It's a beautiful city so don't miss it!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

How I Got Here!

A quick little post before I show you some Alaska wildlife! Here are some photos from my journey to Vancouver.

Above: London City Airport to Amsterdam. Took about 1 hour.

Above: My plane for Amsterdam to Vancouver. Took considerably longer...

Above: Vancouver International Airport. Very nice airport!

Above: Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel.

Above: My room at Fairmont. Very posh! And that is a telescope you can see standing by my window.

Above: The view from my room - looking straight out over the runways.

Above: The view at night. Next time: Juneau!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Scenic Cruising in Alaska

Welcome back to my blog! I've now been cruising in Alaska for just over two weeks and we'll be heading south a week today, bound for the Caribbean. Today I'll show you some of the spectacular views which we have seen from the ship, during 'scenic cruising' of Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Bay.

Alaska Panorama #1
Above: A panorama of Tracy Arm Fjord

Tracy Arm Fjord is a popular route with Cruise Ships, located southeast of Juneau on the Inside Passage. It is a glacial valley with the Sawyer Glaciers located at either end. Approximately 23 miles long, our ship the Zuiderdam only sails part of the route but the views are nevertheless impressive.

Above: Some of the scenery is quite dramatic

Above: The Inside Passage is popular with cruise ships

One of the biggest draws for passengers is Glacier Bay which forms part of the Glacier Bay Basin, designated a National Park in 1980. It is also the world's largest UNESCO protected biosphere, declared so in 1986. Glacier Bay was a large single glacier until the early 18th century when it began retreating, leaving 20 separate glaciers in its wake.

Above: John Hopkins Glacier

The John Hopkins Glacier you see above has a width of 1 mile with a depth of 250 feet, also rising 250 feet above sea level. It stretches 12 miles upstream and is the largest tidewater glacier in Glacier Bay. The inlet is closed to boats during the Summer months to protect unweaned harbor seal pups so we were lucky to see it!

Above: Passengers watching the John Hopkins Glacier from the bow of the Zuiderdam.

Another glacier which see saw in Glacier Bay was the Margerie Glacier, a 2l mile long tide water glacier that begins on the south slope of Mount Root. It is located at the deep end of Glacier Bay.

Above: The Margerie Glacier

Above: Close-up of the Margerie Glacier. These chunks of ice frequently 'carve' (break off) but I haven't seen it happen yet!

I'll leave you with a shot of one of the islands in the Inside Passage. I saw a whale near here last week (but sadly without my camera). Next time I'll show you some of the ports in Alaska.

Above: An island in the Inside Passage