Mendenhall Glacier

Juneau, AK

Jul 7, 2010

With the weather unusually sunny and warm outside (we were told that last year there were only 19 days without rain), we decided it was the perfect time to go to Mendenhall Glacier. We went down the cruise ship docks to find a shuttle to take us out to the glacier. We found a row of hucksters all selling tickets for the same things, and they all simultaneously began talking at us. We ended up going for the old guy with the cool mustache--he kind of looked like an unkempt Mark Twain.

We boarded the next glacier blue bus which immediately took us to a parking lot, where the driver left. A seasoned lady named Sandy boarded the bus to babysit it for him for a few minutes. She amused herself by talking to us in her salty way. Her monologue included many four letter words touching on the heat, lack of passengers, and criticism of Indiana climate.

The bus was a historic transportation museum in its own right. The sound it made shifting into second gear was enough to set your teeth on edge. The worn interior had been brightened with a tip bowl featuring a skeleton hand, a sign encouraging tips, various newspaper clippings glued to posterboard having to do with bears or the glacier, and a whiteboard that encouraged passengers who knew different languages to "help your fellow man or woman" by writing in your language the fact that the last bus leaves the glacier at 6 p.m.

The driver's remarks during the drive were probably witty and fascinating had they not been too hard to understand over the roar of the engine and his tendency to mumble. He was, however, sure to make it clear that the last bus leaves at 6.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK

When we arrived at the glacier, we proceeded to take about 6 or 7 dozen photos of it from various places in the park. Katherine also added many photos of rocks. We took a trail to the base of Nugget Falls and took some more photos of the falls (and the glacier). We also looked at a lot of rocks. We greatly enjoyed the beauty of the area.

Nugget Falls, Juneau, AK
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK

While walking on the trail, an older lady was becoming hysterical and got Katherine's attention: "Doesn't this look like gold in this rock?" Her husband added, "she thinks there's gold in that rock." Katherine, realizing that the rock was forming a wall, hesitated and said, "well, it does sparkle a lot but it looks like pyrite."

While walking up to the visitor's center, a young boy who could not have been more than four years old had gotten himself stranded on a huge rock formation. All of the adults standing around were commenting that he shouldn't be there and wondering where his parents were. The boy's mom was at the bottom of the rock just telling him to come down from there. It was evident to everyone else that if he tried to come down that he would fall and probably be badly hurt Since a stairway had been built around the rock, one couple managed to coax the boy over to where the stairs were and lifted him over. The mother didn't even take notice and Katherine saw the boy immediately scramble up onto another smaller rock.

After we made a pact not to take any more glacier photos, we decided to head back to the hotel. Instead of taking a shuttle back to downtown Juneau and then taking another shuttle to our hotel, we decided to just walk down the road for four miles because we are clearly such fitness fanatics. After over an hour of putting one foot ahead of the other, Katherine's idea of stopping by the liquor store to buy beer made total sense. What walk can't be improved by conspicuously carrying a six pack of beer along with you?

Mendenhall Loop Road, Juneau, AK

We decided to have dinner in the dining room at Grandma's. Chris had teriyaki salmon and Katherine had beer battered halibut.