North! To A-las-ka! Part 3: Do Juneau The Way To Taku Bay?

So after spending several hours toodling around in Disenchantment Bay in front of the glacier it was time to say “aw reservoir” and start the trip to Juneau, where we were scheduled to dock at 6 am or so.
So my Bride and I sat on our balcony and enjoyed the lovely mountainous scenery as it went by

(Toto, we ain’t in Jersey anymore)
when we suddenly noticed a pod of killer whales right in front of us

How insanely cool was that? And how insanely crappy is that photo? All we could see were these fins slicing and Ginsuing through the water, I rush and take 5 or 7 photos and I don’t capture squat in any of them.
Now I know how all those crazy old coots at Loch Ness feel: “Really! It was there! Look at the ripples, man…the ripples!
Anyhoo, it was a formal night on the ship, and I looked positively mahvelous in my tux. After a delicious dinner and perhaps a tad too much wine I hit the sack and conked out, only to be awoken by some rather odd noises outside of the cabin the next morning…

Where the hell did that come from? Juneau! Capital of Alaska, squaged right up against a 3000′ foot ‘hill’

One of the cool things about Juneau is that, as the old saying goes, “you can’t get there from here,” for you see there are no roads to Juneau. The only way in is by boat or plane or both

Those seaplanes are zipping about constantly in all of these cities; I assume in the city harbors there’s some sort of air traffic control but the number of planes taking off seemingly at random times and in random directions in these harbors reminds one more of folks just running out of a bar and hopping on their horse and galloping off in whatever way appeals at any given moment.
Juneau’s not a booming megalopolis by any stretch of the imagination; all of the buildings are both pretty low

(yes, that’s our ship the Celebrity Infinity towering over the port area)
and pretty low-key as well. For example, look at this High School building from the 50s

In fact that building is the State Capitol. No tarted up, gilded domed beastie building with naked blind Greek chicks wielding swords and scales adorning the front for Alaska, my friends, no sirree!
One other thing here in insane amounts are jewelry stores. I guess it is to be expected when cruise ships disgorge up to a million passengers over the course of the summer season (and this in a city that only has 30,000 residents) but my gosh the peddling of crap is incessant

First you get assaulted with all this advice on “where to shop” by employees on the ship and then when you get off the hustlers are everywhere. It’s really really annoying. I mean, obviously, I took a cruise to Juneau solely to buy charm bracelets and t-shirts.
In point of fact, I came to Juneau to do this

A helicopter ride, gleefully sucking av-gas like a ravenously growing grizzly and spewing out carbon-based waste like, er, well, a ravenously growing grizzly cub, surging higher and higher over the pristine wilderness

searching for the place to land our two helicopters so we can gallivant about. There! The Taku!

Yes, this is the one!

The Taku laughs at Gerbil Warmening and is advancing at a blistering 50 feet per year, pummeling trees in its path

and calving gorgeous blue…river bergs

and upon her we shall soon stand.
But not here

as some of those crevasses fall to a depth of 1000′. That would suck.
A lot.
Luckily, our partner in carbon effrontery has found a perfect spot

and we soon land nearby…wind down the rotors…undo our various belts and safety gizmos…and step out

My eyes tear up at the deliciously tasty irony of taking a helicopter to visit a glacier. If only the Goreacle could see me…he’d be so proud of me following in his carbon footprints

“I hereby claim this land for Pope Prius the Offset”
Parked nearby is the air cavalry

Standing on the glacier it almost seems as if it is alive. It groans. It cracks. It creaks. Fluids run out of one part into another. It releases gas. It’s very still and very quiet yet moving, in both the figurative and literal senses. Another one of those amazing places that words fail to describe until you step out on that puppy yourself.
After which words will still fail to describe but you will at least understand what I mean.
Still having lots of refined ANWR Water in our tanks we decided to saddle up once again and see more glaciery goodness

This one is called the “Hole In The Wall” glacier because it spills through that gap in the mountains up top

and tumbles down the steep slope in a crackling splintery cascade of aquamarine chaos

and surrealistic flows

rising higher, back over the Taku, you can see that there is indeed some beautiful orderly pattern as the sections split and bend and get shoved through the valley they are gouging out

as we climb even higher more glaciers come into view

and I swear I hear my Bride start humming “Kashmir”
(even I have to admit the “da-da-DUH, da-da-DUH” beat fits rather well with the sound of the rotors)
whilst below us another glacier tumbles off a cliff

and suddenly there! Nestled between two glaciers and glinting like the spires of Xanadu in the bright August sun lies that playground of the stars, Stalag Camp 17

Sadly our busy social calendar didn’t allow us to stop and sample its many charms.
Perhaps next time.
As we head back to Juneau the mountains drop off steeply and the glacial runoff falls in torrents down the hillside

feeding the lakes and streams that are home to the many bear and other such critters that make all these trails

The Juneau Ice Field is really only a few miles from the city and within seconds we’re back over the channel with the city in view

We soon land and return to the ship for our mid-afternoon departure and overnight cruise to Ketchikan.
An hour or so later we see a glacier that wouldn’t be out of place in Mordor

and a short time after that we pass 15 or so humpback whales going in the opposite direction and my Pulitzer Prize Worthy photojournalism skills once again are displayed to their fullest advantage

Oh poo.

4 Responses to “North! To A-las-ka! Part 3: Do Juneau The Way To Taku Bay?”

  1. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Nice photos! But why didn’t you go swimming? ;-p

  2. nightfly says:

    As long as you’re not going for wildlife, your shots are fine, Bings. Better than fine, actually – some of these are completely awesome.

  3. Ave says:

    Pics of purported synchronized swimmers notwithstanding your pics of the glaciers are truly, gorgeously stunning. Thanks.

  4. RebeccaH says:

    I’m a little late, Bingley, those pics were absolutely gorgeous! I’ve wanted to take that trip for a long, long time.

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