Juneau, Alaska

The capital of Juneau was the biggest stop on the cruise. But even though it’s a large city for Alaska standards, the nature never stops being everywhere. We decided to do some whale watching and it was well worth it. We got a good deal by buying on the shore instead of through the cruise line. We saw a bunch of eagles up pretty up close.

Saw a couple eagles while whale watching
Saw a couple eagles while whale watching

And we saw a bunch of whales. It’s pretty magical heading out on a small little boat in search of creatures that are many times larger than your vessel. Getting to see and hear these creatures this close is amazing.

Pfshewww!
Pfshewww!

Our tour guides were awesome. They were very knowledgeable and respectful of the whales and the water. They found a pod and got us close.

Humpback
Humpback

It’s pretty typical of Alaska to be in the midst of a pod of whales set amongst a stunning backdrop while an eagle swoops down and catches a salmon.

Eagle hunting for salmon while whale watching
Eagle hunting for salmon while whale watching

I’m not exactly sure which of the wildlife pictures that I took eventually won me the bet of who could take a better wildlife picture but there were a lot of great shots that came from this trip.

Gotta be happy getting this shot
Gotta be happy getting this shot

After whale watching we got a chance to see Mendenhall Glacier, which was included in the tour. It was pretty cool, but its beauty may be diminished due the number of glaciers you see everywhere in Alaska. That is currently changing though. Although Mendenhall Glacier is 12 miles long, it is retreating due to global warming.

Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier

A wild bear decided to show up. We followed him for some time and got some good shots. The park ranger who was escorting us said that the older bears have predictable routes that they follow every day and aren’t really a threat. It’s the younger bears who haven’t established their daily routine that are more dangerous. It’s interesting to see this behavior that is so common in humans repeat itself in bears. We both search out the repetitive daily grind and then grind it away until the end of our days. We probably would do best to be like the young bear, exploring the world and experiencing new things than to do the exact same thing every day of our lives like the old bear.

Wild black bear crossing a beaver dam
Wild black bear crossing a beaver dam

I trusted the park ranger and so we walked along and got pretty close. At one point the bear was only a couple feet away.

Wildlife in Alaska is hard to beat
Wildlife in Alaska is hard to beat

But I wasn’t worried because, like the joke goes, you don’t have to outrun a bear to survive. You just have to outrun the people you are with. I was sure my girlfriend and I could outrun the seniors who were also following the bear, trying to get a better look.

After a long day of taking in some great nature and wildlife, we had to stop in at Tracy’s King Crab Shack (as seen on Top Chef!). This is the place to go for king crab in Alaska. There was a line but it moved pretty quickly.

The line at Tracy's is worth the wait
The line at Tracy’s is worth the wait

The king crab legs here are huge and delicious. They also sell Dungeness crab which is honestly a waste of money in comparison. You just can’t beat king crab in Alaska. Fresh and delicious.

Some of the legs weigh in over a pound
Some of the legs weigh in over a pound

Our stop in Juneau was another great stop. We hopped back onto the ship and checked out some music and did some dancing.

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