|Juneau is the capital of Alaska, accessible only by plane or boat; you don't drive to Juneau. Even so, Juneau boasts two full-size RV parks. How do you get your RV there? By ferry from Washington, British Columbia, or Skagway. Juneau, located on the rugged shores of Gastineau Channel, is a beautiful town, full of flowers in the summer and intermittent snow in the winter.
We arrived on July 22 by bus from Whitehorse to Skagway, and by Fjord Express tour boat from Skagway to Juneau. Unfortunately, our departure from and return to Skagway coincided with the lowest tides of the year, and we had to negotiate an extremely long and steep ramp from the parking lot to the dock. With cheers and good wishes from the rest of the caravan group, Suzy managed to make it, but it was tough on her. We don't have pictures of this, because we were more concerned with safety than we were with the camera.
One of the biggest (literally!) attractions of the Juneau area is the Mendenall Glacier, only minutes from town, but the boat trip from and back to Skagway offered a lot of breathtaking scenery as well. Mountains, glaciers, lighthouses, whales, otters and eagles attracted and kept our attention.
Once in Juneau, we took a bus to Mendenhall Glacier for a much-too-brief visit to this 12-mile long tongue of ice. The glacier reaches 1-1/2 miles across the Mendenhall Valley, with ice 400 to 800 feet deep. Naturalist John Muir originally named it the "Auk Glacier" after a local Tlingit Indian village when he visited the area in 1879. In 1892 the name was changed to honor Thomas Mendenhall, superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard and Geodetic Survey. Sometimes we should leave well enough alone. "Auk Glacier" was fine; the name paid tribute to the native people who had been there long before we discovered gold.
Like most glaciers, Mendenhall is blue. Glacial ice has a unique crystalline structure that absorbs and reflects light. As snow accumulates, its weight compacts snow layers from previous years into a dense ice that absorbs all colors of the rainbow but transmits only blue.
Juneau has shopping for nearly every desire. We bought excellent fudge, which of course was gone almost immediately. We also purchased some high-quality dress sweatshirts that we have not worn yet, since the weather everywhere has been pretty warm. We'll certainly use them this winter for church and other occasions.
So, where are we today? We're still in Wilsonville, Oregon, still getting medical and dental visits taken care of, getting vehicle maintenance and repairs done (we broke a fog lamp on the car and lost a headlight on the motorhome as well as getting a lot of windshield rock chips during our trip). We attended Suzy's big family reunion and my grade school reunion. We are catching up on paperwork, sorting and renaming the 2783 photos we came back with, taking a large bag of soda can pull tabs to the Ronald McDonald House (they sell them to augment their tight budget), and trying to find a place to donate the walker Suzy used after her surgery. We also got Suzy's mobility scooter repaired (we think). So we've been busy.
In a couple of weeks we'll pull out of here headed toward Minden, NV, for Granddaughter Renee's wedding, then to visit some friends in California's Gold Country. As we go, we'll take pictures and write more entries for this website, to continue keeping you up-to-date on ... Our Life on Wheels.