This past June, my husband and I went on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We didn’t know much about Alaska except that it was very cold, and the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm in the summer! We were not prepared to see God’s creation in its raw beauty.
Alaska’s nickname, “The Last Frontier”, truly befits the state. It is the 49th state of the Union. It’s capital is Juneau.
We had such a great time on the cruise and our visit to Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. If you are in a position to visit this state, don’t wait. Here’s why you should:
You see glaciers up close. Glaciers are slowly moving masses or rivers of ice that are formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles. We saw 4 glaciers during the cruise, the Sawyer Glacier at the end of Tracy Arm Fjord, Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and smaller glaciers (sorry, forgot their names) while we were on a whale watching tour. According to alaska.org, there over 10,000 glaciers in varying sizes all over Alaska. The massive sizes of the two that we saw were captivating. On the way to Sawyer Glacier, we saw chunks of ice that had broken off from the glacier and were being brought out by the receding tide.
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau
Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord
Newly broken off ice from Sawyer Glacier. It is floating out with the tide.
As the naturalist on the ship stated as we entered Tracy Arm Fjord, we were breathing in one of the cleanest air there is in North America. The weather was glorious. It was a bit too cold for me for June but I welcomed the change of temperature from humid and hot Florida.
Below is a basin that used to carry a glacier that has now melted and new growth of plants has appeared. Primary succession in action. The water fall is originates from the melting glacier in the distance.
Below is another water fall on the Yukon Pass. Yes, it was clean in enough to drink!
Living in Florida makes us appreciate the mountains more. I have seen mountains in other parts of the country such in California and North Carolina. However, these mountains seemed different. They just appeared much more majestic. Of the 20 highest mountain peaks in the US, 17 of them are found in Alaska! We saw one of them, the Tongas National Forest. Denali is the highest peak. I still have this on my bucket list.
Wildlife in Alaska is diverse. Some of them even co-exist with the locals. We didn’t see bears nor wild goats on the sides of mountains but we saw whales! As a Marine Biologist, it was so cool to see them in their natural habitat. The ship we were on had an in-house naturalist and had a viewing deck at the bow of the ship. After dinner, we would converge with binoculars on hand to whale watch until the sun sets.
Ketchikan is the Salmon Capital of the World. We were a bit early for salmon spawning season. Creek Street below has a creek that salmon swims upstream to spawn.
Bald eagles. This beauty was lazily perched on top of a lamp post by the dock. As we drove to the Mendenhall Glacier, there was a flock of eagles. It was awesome to see them just flying around as we commonly see cardinals here in Florida