Friday, May 27, 2011

Alaska Trip: Day 8

A sad day as it is our last day on board the Quest  I really wish we didn’t have to leave! When I woke up for breakfast, I joined my mom, Sean, and Denee on the bridge briefly before breakfast. I was surprised to see Sean without a hat for the first time the entire trip (which was weird because I had just had a thought before making my way to the bridge that I hadn’t seen him without a hat on the entire trip!) When I looked out to see where we were, I couldn’t believe we were already approaching Juneau!

By breakfast, we were already at the dock and soon it was time to disembark. The crew waited for us on the dock and I took a few quick photos (one shown below). We hugged everyone as we made our way back up and across to the Goldbelt Hotel with Karl. Our bags took a little longer, so Mom and I checked into our room (we stayed 2 extra days in Juneau to explore) and waited.

We didn’t have a firm plan for our 2 days in Juneau, but I noticed a sign about a Juneau Jeep Tour the next afternoon when we went down to pick up our bags. As we took the bags back to the room and made plans to walk around downtown and ride the tram to the top of Mount Roberts there in Juneau, I convinced Mom into looking into the Jeep Tour. We ended up signing up both for the Jeep Tour on Saturday and a Flight & Feast excursion via seaplane to the Taku Glacier Lodge later Friday afternoon.

Since we had a few hours before our flight to Taku left, we decided to ride up the tram, eat lunch at the top and enjoy the view. After lunch, we briefly visited Lady Baltimore (a bald eagle who lives in captivity due to her injuries) and explored a bit. I walked out along the start of one trail to take some photos, but Mom didn’t want to get her shoes muddy (there was still quite a bit of snow on the trails and some of it was melting). After buying a couple souvenirs & presents for people back home, we headed back down the mountain to drop off our purchases before our afternoon flight. We passed Sean on the street as we were headed to check in and waved (since he was on the other side)!

The whole flight & feast trip was quite an adventure. I’ve always loved flying (odd as I’m a bit afraid of heights) and even thought about taking flying lessons, but I’d never been in such a small airplane before. Since I survived the helicopter to Catalina with Summer, I figured I would be okay in the seaplane. I got a bit jumpy a couple of times, but the view and photo ops from the plane were enough to distract me! It was challenging taking photos out the window. Between the wing in the way and things going by so fast, I’m glad I got the shots I did.

Once we got to the lodge, we had a whole other adventure! Soon after making our way up to the lodge, one of our fellow passengers called out that 2 bears had been spotted in the woods just behind the lodge. Of course we all went to investigate (though Mom and I kept our bear training info from Karl in mind as we approached). It was amazing to see the two black bears so close to the lodge! When one started coming towards us, Mom and I decided to slowly back away and head inside. We chose our seats for the feast near the window overlooking the BBQ area and headed back outside when another bear was spotted approaching from the front of the lodge this time!

Soon it was time for the feast and as we began to eat, we saw the bears approach the BBQ area. All salmon was long gone, but the bears evidently couldn’t pass up salmon-flavored sand. It was amazing to watch them lick up the sand and interact. I think most of us spent more time taking photos of the bears through the window than actually eating! All too soon it was time to head back to Juneau in the seaplane. Mom and I were exhausted when we made it back, but I ended up dragging her back up the tram because of a missed photo op earlier in the day that had been nagging me  After that, we headed back to the hotel to crash and rest up for the jeep tour the next day!

Photos below and as always click to enlarge!

The Safari Quest Crew
From left to right: Alexandra, Bob, Karl, Brittany, Angela, Sarah, Denee, Dirk, Sean

Mount Roberts Tram

 Interesting No Smoking sign

View from top of Mt. Roberts

Mt. Roberts Info (the math is slightly off for # of hours of sunlight, but it's close!)

"Butt Quack" Boxers at a shop in downtown Juneau

Take off in the seaplane

Various scenery from the flight to Taku Glacier Lodge

Taku Glacier Lodge as we arrived

Bear warning sign!

Black bear near the lodge!

Another black bear in front of the lodge

Black bears investigating BBQ and licking salmon-flavored sand

Leaving Taku Glacier Lodge

Inside seaplane on trip back to Juneau

Scenery on way back to Juneau from seaplane

View of dock & wharf right after landing

Taku Flight & Feast Office in Juneau

Our seaplane at the dock

Mural at Juneau City Hall

Stud Puffin Boxers! 
The photo (below) I dragged Mom back up the Mt. Roberts tram to get...I wished I had taken the photo throughout the whole afternoon, and since we had a free ride back to the top any time that day, I figured what the heck, right?  I even ended up buying the boxers!

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