We still haven’t cracked the sleeping thing, so are up at 4.00am. There are allegedly a large number of hump-backed whales round the ship but all I glimpse is a few spurts of foam. We are heading north toward Juneau and the scenery is impressive. Unfortunately, so is the wind, which gusts at 55 knots. We make the mistake of ascending to the top deck and can barely stand up. Today was supposed to be the day of our extra special, incredibly expensive, float plane experience to see brown bears but the plane cannot take off so, disappointingly, the trip is cancelled. In addition, the wind meant that the ship couldn’t dock in Juneau until two hours later than scheduled. Whilst we were waiting, we spent a very pleasant time in the Windjammer restaurant on deck 11, sunning ourselves and chatting with friends.
Finally, we are able to dock and the sun is shining on the righteous and on us too. Juneau was a gold rush town, founded in 1880 and is now the state capital. We are invited to join a mad genealogists’ excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in a hired mini-bus. The first challenge is to cram all twelve of us inside. This involves trying to avoid being garrotted by the seat belt that is strung across the doorway. It is a short drive to the glacier near Nugget Falls. Despite the name, virtually no gold was taken from here and in the early part of the twentieth century, money was made from hydro-electric power, before the area turned to tourism. We learn a little of the local Tlingit people. It is very peaceful here, despite it being a tourist honey pot. Sadly, climate change is taking its toll and the glacier is retreating at an alarming rate. We see some bald-headed eagles on our journey but not in a spot suitable for photographing.
We have been encouraged to visit the Red Dog Saloon and this is something else. The atmosphere is dark and crowded and there is live country music being played. The floor is covered in four inches of sawdust and the ceiling in the flags of various ships. In between, the walls are decked in hunting trophies and graffiti. Chris has trouble finding any kind of beverage that the basque-clad waitress recognises. We settle for Sprite. Then it is back to the ship.
I succumb to the international dishes of the day and consume sweet and sour chicken. Afterwards, Michelle and Maurice entertain us with more on DNA.