Woke up to a wet windy morning – probably the worst weather since we left the UK. Headed into Juneau looking for breakfast, trouble is that the town is full of gift shops, jewelers, fur shops and lots of “tat” reared at the cruisers who all eat on board so cafes are few and far between. We were about to give up when we came across the Costas Diner right under our noses – what a find – a small place with only one smiling girl taking orders, cooking whatever you want, clearing away and taking the cash all by herself! The banana and walnut pancakes which I had were enormous – there were two and both overlapped the nine inch plate that they were served on! Margy won’t be worrying about me losing weight if I keep on eating like this. Didn’t manage it all – should have had young Michael White with me! If ever you find yourselves in Juneau, this is definitely the place for breakfast.
With a few hours to kill before getting on the ferry we wandered around in the rain, had a closer look at one of the Princess cruise ships and visited the McCauley Salmon Hatchery – what a place. The fish ladder there was 400 yds long and was full of salmon trying to jump to the top and spawn. Mostly sockeye but some King. The very interesting talk by our guide explained how the salmon “get to know their own place by smell” ensuring that years later they return to spawn and die. Lots of good work done here to preserve fresh Alaskan salmon. No vitamins, no hormones injected just nature taking care of things!
The "giant" cruisers............................................................ Around Juneau............................................................
A great place for breakfast......... The fish ladder....................................................................... A rest when they make it...........!
On the way to the ferry we called in at the Meldenhall Glacier – what a sight and the pretty shrine of St Theresa a small, stone built church on an island just off the coast and accessible only by a narrow causeway on foot. A peaceful pretty church in a glorious setting despite the rain.
The "calving" Meldenhall Glacier............................................ Smiling despite weather.. Shrine of St Theresa.......
Finally, we boarded the ferry for Prince Rupert and yet again met other travelers including a French couple on their motorbike and a young American couple who had driven 13,000 miles from Florida to visit Alaska. Great to talk with these people!
19 July – 23 July
As we head South on our route out of Alaska the weather is brighter along the Inside Passage. We have had a wonderful trip here in the North with its wild beauty and welcoming, friendly people and are glad that we made the choice to visit Juneau rather than take the road route back into Canada. The cabin on board was comfortable despite being inside. We counted ourselves lucky with this when we saw people queueing to get anything that may be left over or cancelled before they made their way to either the lounge or the solarium on deck to make a bed wherever they could! The majority of the passengers spent their time looking through their binoculars from the front observation lounge of the vessel and the captain would tannoy when he had spotted anything, so we dashed to starboard when he had spotted a group of Orcas in the distance! We have been lucky indeed to see both hump backs and Orcas but sadly readers they were too far away to get a good shot. In between eating, sleeping and watching for wildlife from the deck, we spent some time in the bar – not a surprise I guess!! Here we met Paul and Esther from Zurich who were celebrating their first week as a married couple and Pat, Alice and Howie from South East Florida. Robyn the bar person kept the glasses filled and Pat entertained us on the guitar singing 60s music – Beatles, Searchers and Gerry & The Pacemakers! Howie, Alice’s 80 year old father has been travelling alone to Alaska since 1955 – it is his favourite place and he did say he would have moved there if he had been blessed with a son and not four daughters.
We docked in Prince Rupert at 1:30 on 20th and immediately lost one hour when we drove off the ship. Out of Alaskan time and into Canadian time. It was a great trip on the Alaskan Marine Highway – the scenery was spectacular but if you are a veggie, like me, take your own food – the best on offer in the evening was baked squash and mashed potato! Prince Rupert interested JC with its large container base. It is obviously a feeder port for South East Alaska which has few roads. The containers move up by rail and then barges, pulled by tugs deliver to the outlying locations.
Back in British Columbia its time to “jab on” as JC would say, and get as many kilometers under our belts as we can today so that we can make it to Calgary by late tomorrow night –it’s a long way. Spotting a baby black bear crossing the road, looking lost reminds us to keep to the speed limits despite what we have to cover.
These cruisers keep following us! Looks like he's lost his mum! First sight of the Rockies again....
300kms east of the coast the contours of the land soften and we see our first farming for several weeks. There are loads of fishermen along the riversides here so obviously the salmon must be running. We even spot the Ministry stopping the cars and counting the number of fish in people’s cool boxes. We had been wondering how they controlled the “rationed” number they may catch in a season. Finally we make it to Burns Lake at around 9pm having done almost 500 kms. Definitely a small town – after we stowed our stuff at a motel we headed for the nearest restaurant only to find that everywhere closes at 9pm! Luckily we had some supplies and beers in the Toyota – he never goes anywhere without his Heineken.
Up early the nexr morning, we were on our way at 0630 am taking the Yellowhead Highway east across the Rockies and then south along the Icefield Highway to Calgary – another long day. By mid day we had already done 400kms but get slower after Jasper with the increased holiday traffic and road works along the way. It seems like months ago since we drove north this way with the rally. The views of the Rockies from this direction are even better, the temperature is 29C and the sun on the glaciers is picture perfect.
When we finally made it to Anne and Dave’s, the whole family were there to meet us. It was good to see them all again and to see Shaun and his girlfriend Melissa and Sarah’s boyfriend Danny, who had not been able to meet us earlier in Banff. Had supper outside on the deck until the mosquitos, nearly as bad as the ones in Alaska, forced us inside. A very long day of almost 1000 kms of driving but great to know we can spend a couple of days just chilling out with friends.
Our chill out time was spent, servicing the Toyota, doing the washing, stocking up on supplies for the rest of our trip and copying photos to CDs (CMC – you will get them in the post shortly for safekeeping), but mostly catching up. Anne and Dave really spoilt us – they fed us excellent food – especially the “full English” , seemed to have Heineken on tap for JC, and made sure that we had supplies of the English things we had been missing like Heinz Baked Beans and Galaxy. Thanks to all of you for looking after us so well. I know that you will keep watching our journey and hope that we can meet up again somewhere in Argentina!!
Shaun & Melissa................ A good time was had by all....................................
Big hugs for Cooper, Titan and Jack!!