Oh, Juneau. Magical, magical Juneau. This is the day our desire to be Alaskans one day, was cemented. If we could have grabbed our bags and sent for our things without drama, we absolutely would have. It started when we woke up to this view.
We pulled into port around 6am. We were up (can’t say before the sun) well before then and watched us pull in from our balcony. The day was foggy and damp, as we’ve learned is pretty typical for Juneau.
There’s really no silence quite like the silence of pulling into one of these ports. The ship’s motors are quiet, the docks aren’t bustling with activity, and the air is so still and clear and free of noise pollution, it’s almost deafening.
Years ago, when I was working on a site called Band Back Together, I became friends with a girl named Tracy. Since then, around 2012 maybe, we’ve watched each other’s families, as well as ourselves, grow and change. I had forgotten she lived in Juneau, but one day she posted something that reminded me and I reached out.
We made plans to meet up — I would be her first “internet friend” meeting. Our kids were excited to meet a “real Alaskan” and have a private tour of Juneau.
As soon as we could disembark the Carnival Legend, we did. The streets of Juneau were absolutely charming.
We found Heritage Coffee Roasting Co and let them get on WiFi for about 45 minutes before meeting Tracy. This was the first time the kids were able to use their phones, and I’ll tell you a secret: they had been moaning about getting on them for days and then when they could, they spent about 15 minutes goofing off and then were like, “can we go now?” It was quite amazing!
Tracy and her two beautiful children picked us up downtown so we could head to Mendenhall Glacier. When looking at the excursions available through Carnival, there were so many activities that looked exciting. Tracy and I went back and forth about what we should do, and in the end, she really thought seeing Mendenhall Glacier would be the best — mainly because she noted that it was about ⅓ of the size that it was when she was a child. This article and video show the amazing and heartbreaking ice melt over the last decade or so.
It was a nice drive out there. Seeing Juneau from a car and not a tour bus was really nice. Tracy was able to tell us real-life things, like how much more expensive things are and how often grocery stores get deliveries. Logistics in Alaska is the biggest problem. Especially Juneau. The only ways in and out are by boat or plane. And now I understand the “except in Alaska and Hawaii” part of shipping disclaimers even more.
We arrived at Mendenhall and took the short walk from the parking area to Nugget Falls and the glacier. It was a GORGEOUS walk. Everything there is so green and natural, seemingly untouched by pesticides and herbicides and fungicides.
We got to Nugget Falls and it did not disappoint. From the photo above, it looks like “just a little waterfall” but this was amazing. The power of water is really quite unbelievable.
The video below shows how forceful it really was. And yes, we were this close.
We spent a good while playing on the small land area, just letting the kids run around and climb rocks and skip rocks. It was cool but really nice out.
After we’d seen all the glacier beauty we could handle, we headed back into town. After a quick stop at Tracy’s house (a real Alaskan neighborhood!), we went to grab lunch.
I failed at getting photos of our lunch stop (except the Alaskan Brewing Co beer) because I was so excited about chatting with Tracy and enjoying the fish tacos we had from Deckhand Dave’s. Where we went was a small courtyard area downtown with some food trucks and a beer tent. There was seating and it was fantastic.
The kids were getting along great. The baby wasn’t having anything to do with me, which made me really sad, but I get it. I’m a stranger with a weird twangy accent.
This is where Tracy and the kids left us. It was such a fun morning with them and I really can’t explain how happy it always makes me to meet internet friends. Who are really just simply “friends.”
As we moseyed back to the boat, we stopped in for another beer at the Red Dog Saloon. This place was pretty cool. There was writing all over the walls and so of course, we added to it.
The stop in Juneau was fairly short. We had to be back on board around 2pm, so we headed back to the boat and say goodbye (for now) to Juneau.
Once on board, we headed to Guess That Song: Classic Rock and Trivia. Brian, Brianna, and I all basically sat there and let Henry answer them all. It was funny to watch. Ultimately, someone else got one more point than we did, but we had a blast.
We all were so tired that night, that we all ended up really giddy and laughing our behinds off. The kids decided to go get ice cream and they brought it back and had ice cream in the beds! This made us laugh even more… who eats ice cream in bed? Well…
The day in Juneau was spectacular. It reiterated our desire to live here one day. As far as visiting, I cannot wait to get back! Hopefully next year!
Our day in Ketchikan is up next.