June 24, Saturday
Our first day in Juneau we wanted to get the lay of the land, so we headed into downtown Juneau. Our campground is about 11 miles outside of town, with a straight-shot drive to get to the shopping district. Downtown Juneau, much like Sitka and Kitchican, is dedicated to servicing cruise ships with store after store of souvenirs, Alaskan-made crafts, and jewelry stores. A cruise ship had already disembarked passengers when we arrived downtown, and we arrived just in time for the sidewalk shuffle!
There were some nice shops – a quilt store and a wonderful beer paraphernalia store. In it saw a little stainless, growler/keg that was just adorable, with copper fittings . . . and a hefty price. On a whim, we bought sweatshirts from the Red Dog Saloon (kind of like if you go to Sloppy Joe's in Key West!) We walked down one long street, and back down the other side, and then decided to save the rest for another trip.
We headed back to the Silvermine for lunch, and then planned an expedition to the famous Mendenhall Glacier and Visitor Center. The Glacier is one of the most visited Glaciers – they did everything but park it right downtown! It is a real “urban” glacier – practically a “drive-up” glacier! There are lots of hiking trails around the Glacier to various viewing points, and we enjoyed the Nugget Creek Trail to the waterfalls that flows beside the glacier into Mendenhall Lake at the base of the glacier. It was a paved, level walkway of only 2 miles and a relaxing hike. A small portion of it took place in a light rain.
This was our first hike and view of Mendenhall Glacier, but I am sure there will be more to come. On the way back to our campsite, we stopped for grocery supplies, and chose a rib-eye for the grill tonight. This will be the first time in Alaska we have had a nice setting for grilling. There are signs and reports of bears in the campground, and we’re hoping to get the steak on and off before they come calling! We'll eat inside!
Tom & Ella Brown