Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Alaska Marine Highway

Our travels on Alaska’s marine highway started at Skagway and ended at Prince Rupert . Total of 565 mile ( 934km )
Over half of  Alaska’s coastline cities are unreachable by road so the Government   started the Marine Highway system to connect these communities. There are nine ships that travel to 33 ports and we were doing 5 of these ports.The first part of our travels was on the  Malispina to Juneau, the capital of Alaska where we spent  two nights. We had to be at the dock by 5.45 am to load the vehicles in readiness for our 7am departure.
The pretty town of Juneau, is nestled in the base of the mountains stretching its way along the coast line for miles. This area has frequent rain and as we had a sunny afternoon when we arrived we booked into the RV park, jumped into Troopy and headed firstly to Glacier Gardens.  
What an amazing array of flowers, delightfully displayed out of tree trunks and indoors from hanging pots. These plants are dug up before winter, potted and stored until summer and are then replanted once the soil temperature is suitable. We were then taken by golf cart through the Tongass National Forest, rising to 600 ft where we went for a walk out onto the boardwalk for great views of Juneau.
It was then to Mendenhall Glacier where icebergs from the glacier lay in the lake. We walked around the lake to Gold nugget falls and also along the boardwalk of the Salmon trail where we viewed salmon swimming below us. We also visited the information centre which overlooked the glacier and lake.
Juneau did put on its usual weather, the following day was raining so it was a lazy morning then downtown for lunch to the fabulous red dog saloon where we ended up spending a few hours listening to the antics, and enjoying the entertainment of the Great Baldini on the piano. We continued our walk down town before returning back to the warmth of our RV.
The following day we did not have to be at the dock until 2pm so we packed up, fuelled and drove the RV leaving it at the ferry terminal and again jumping in Troopy to explore the otherside of the bay.  We went for a beautiful walk along a trail with Mendenhall river one side of us and a paddock full of wildflowers on the other but being short on time we could not complete the walk that ended up at the Glacier but it did not matter as we had already seen it up close.   
With our vehicles loaded, ourselves settled into a cabin we departed Juneau at 4.30pm on the MVTaku. This ship is 352 ft long, 74 ft wide and has a gross tonnage of 262. The ferry runs at a speed of 16.5 knots. There are four decks, the bottom one for vehicles, the next has cabins  42 in total,  the third has dining,  lounge , observation deck, computer room, theatre, cocktail lounge  and gift store and the top deck has a solarium  with undercover outdoor area or open space and deck chairs.  Sadly we did not get to enjoy this area as it was too cold . 
Our two and a half days of travelling the calm waters of the inside passage was a wonderful experience seeing whales, seals and porpoises, being surrounded by snow capped mountains, glaciers, green forest  islands, two nights of beautiful sunsets  and although we did not have the comforts of a cruise ship  or the chance to stop over for very long at any ports it was an enjoyable change to travel in the RV. We also met some wonderful people, shared our travel experiences  and there were even some Aussies who live not too far from us on the North Coast.
Arriving in Prince Rupert we were back in Canada. Sadly that is our goodbye to Beautiful Alaska for this trip at least..... .

Snow capped mountains from Boat


Cruising the calm waters
Downtown Juneau
Mendenhall Glacier
Glacier Gardens
Pot display at glacier Gardens
Glacier Gardens
Glacier Gardens Entrance
Gold Nuggett Falls
Hellar Glacier viewed from Ferry
Heart of Flowers
Aboard our Glacier Gardens Tour
Icebergs of Mendenhall Glacier
Leaving Skagway on the Ferry
Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall River
Watching the moon come up over the mountain
Moons on its way up
Taku - our ferry
Overlooking Juneau
Petersburgh - one of the ports
Purple Christams Tree at Glacier Gardens
Whale alongside boat
Beautiful sunset from boat
Sunset near Kaka port
Sun trying to peek through cloud
Sign in Red Dog Saloon
Seals enjoying the sun

Wildflowers along walking trail

Red Dog Saloon

Red Dog Saloon

Bar on board

Birds found on our walk

Gardens grown from tree trunks

At Mendenhall glacier

Overlooking Juneau


Got our tickets ready to board

Movie Theatre

Tongass Forest


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