Still. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I woke up early that next morning. Totally and completely still. Excitedly I threw back the covers and ran out onto our balcony. I felt like I was on sensory overload when I saw what was waiting for me behind the closed curtains. The ship was gliding slowly and silently through a narrow passage and the breathtakingly scenic shore almost looked close enough to reach out and touch. The early morning sunlight was glowing a beautiful gold off the water that was as smooth and reflective as a mirror. But what struck me most was the silence. With the exception of the water quietly lapping on the side of the ship, it was totally silent outside.
In about four hours we were due to pull into Juneau, our very first port city. After lunch at Red Dog Saloon, we planned to catch the bus to Mendenhall Glacier and then stroll around town. After we perused the shops for a bit, we planned to find a nice local fish restaurant for dinner. It was salmon season, and by golly I was bound and determined to get me some fresh salmon!
After another yummy breakfast and lots of scenery watching on deck, we decided to walk to the very front of the ship and watch our approach into Juneau. As it came into view, it appeared to me that the town was literally dropped in the middle of nowhere. Juneau is surrounded by water on one entire side and towering mountains on the other. Two other ships were already there ahead of us as we glided into our enormous “parking spot.” I would be lying if I didn’t feel just a little smug that “my” ship was bigger than “their” ships. Looking back at her after disembarking, it was an almost humbling moment to think to myself, “Wow…I’m living there for the next five days.”
After a fun lunch at Red Dog Saloon where a fabulous piano player was entertaining a fully packed restaurant, we caught a quick, and cheap!, bus ride out to Mendenhall Valley. Once there we finally got our first glimpse of a glacier! The bright blue colors of the ice that were threaded in with the black streaks of the minerals were stunningly beautiful. We hiked the easy and flat path to the five-story-tall Nugget Falls and then spent a good two hours wandering around and taking what seemed like eleventy billion pictures. Pictures that I knew simply could not capture the jaw dropping beauty of our surroundings. Brilliant yellow and orange wildflowers were blooming in the surrounding vegetation, the sky was crystal clear and cloudless, and the sun had warmed the afternoon air up to the high 70’s. Perfect almost seemed an understatement.
We almost reluctantly returned back to town and did the traditional tourist shopping for a little while up and down the picturesque streets of Juneau. Literally following our noses like two starving dogs, we happened upon a great restaurant called Twisted Fish Company. The restaurant was right on the water and had a chalkboard sign out front that advertised in hot pink chalk and girly, loopy cursive, “Fresh King Salmon - NOW!” Knowing we had found just the right place for our dinner, we immediately made our way into the restaurant and unbelievably snagged a table for two right away, even though the place was packed to the walls. I had my very first cedar plank salmon at Twisted Fish Co., and after a lingering and amazing dinner, we decided to make our way back to the ship.
Pulling out of Juneau in the 10:00 sunset, the retreating city glittered and shimmered in the reflection of the nearly still water. The air was quickly turning chilly so we decided to head back inside and catch some live music before going to bed. We had a very early morning ahead of us in Skagway. But honestly, I thought to myself, how could Skagway top Juneau? How do you trump such a perfect day? Well…I guess I only had eight short hours to find out...
To be cont'd...