Sunday, May 31, 2009

Alaska Cruise - Day 5, Tuesday May 26

When we woke we were docked in Juneau. The weather was overcast and the cloud cover was low. We left on the best of Juneau tour that took us on a whale watching expedition, a tour of Mendenhall Glacier and to a Salmon bake. The whale watch took over three hours on a catamaran that took us all over the bay area. We saw several hump back whales, some sea lions; about 50-60 Eagles that were swooping low over the water catching fish, and a pod of killer whales.

We first saw several hump back whales. The first one was sleeping, which is a rare sight. Whales only sleep a couple of hours a day. It is the most dangerous time for them because they are easily hit by boats that don’t see them. They still must breathe so their brains do not shut down completely. We watched the sleeping one for a few minutes and it finally woke up and started moving around. We then came across a cow and her young calf. We watched those two play around for a while and then left to seek out other whales. On the way we came across about 60 bald eagles. Some of them were over the water catching fish. There were about 30 eagles in the trees and another 20 or so on the ground by a tree. They were some distance and so we were not able to get good pictures, but they were there. The captain then took us to another location where he heard there was another cow and calf. We found them and started the watch and soon the captain fired up the engines and took off at top speed. He told us he had gotten a report that there was a pod of killer whales in the area. We soon found them and spent about 20 minutes watching them surface, jump around and really showing off. The captain told us that this sighting was so rare that we were now in the top 2% club. Only 2% of those who come out whale watching see what we have seen today. We also saw several beach seals and more bald eagles on Skull Island. It was fun to watch all of these wonderful creatures.

After the whale watch we headed to Mendenhall Glacier. I remember going to see the Mendenhall Glacier when I came through Juneau as a missionary. The glacier supposedly is shrinking back at a rate of 250 feet/year. It is still spectacular and a wonderful sight to see. While we were there is started to rain. It was the first rain we had on the trip and for an area that gets 90 inches a rain a year, that is saying something. Juneau has rain 300 days a year, so we have been blessed with magnificent weather. Then we went on to the salmon bake. The food was fantastic and there was a lady there (Becky) playing her guitar and singing. I bout one of the CD’s so I could use it as a back drop to my Alaska video. After the salmon bake we headed back to the bus.

Our bus drivers on all of the trips so far have been very good. They mix a lot of history about the area as well as a lot of humor. The lady that took us to the Mendenhall Glacier has lived in Alaska since 1961, so she had a lot of stories to tell. The fellow that drove us back to the cruise ship was a native Alaskan and was full of American Indian history and fun.

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