The first trip my husband and I ever took together was to Alaska. We planned our trip to spend half the time in Juneau and the other half in Fairbanks. To this day it is still one of my most favorite trips we have ever taken, and we’ve had some good ones. We had been dating a few years at this point, in fact we were in Alaska on our anniversary.
Most travelers take a cruise to Juneau, Alaska, however we decided to fly. Flying was the best option for us because we prefer to be on our own schedule. We enjoy having as much freedom as possible when travelling. We want to decide where we get to go and how long we stay there. So flying it was!
We had a 7:00 am flight out of Texas on a Wednesday morning, so we arrived to the airport bright and early. We had a two hour layover in Seattle, which was long enough to disembark, find our connecting flight’s gate, use the facilities, and grab a meal before boarding again. We arrived in Juneau around 12:30 p.m.
All of our planned activities provided transportation, and downtown Juneau seemed walker friendly, so we didn’t see the need to rent a car. Our lodging scheduled a shuttle for us and we were to wait outside for the driver. That was when I discovered how drastically different mid-September Alaska weather is compared to mid-September Texas weather. There was a little confusion about our arrival time so the wait for our ride was a tad longer than anticipated. I quickly took warmer clothes out of my suitcase to layer on. I think all my husband added to his polo and shorts was a hoodie! He tolerates the cold much better than I do, well, actually than most. He was on the receiving end of several strange looks.
Our shuttle arrived and drove us through beautiful Juneau with its towering trees and mountainous views. We soon arrived at The Driftwood Hotel. While it wasn’t the fanciest of hotels, our room was affordable, clean, comfortable, and the staff was really nice. It has been several years since our trip, but I checked their website and they appear to still be open and have made some upgrades.
After checking into the hotel we decided to do some light sightseeing. The next day was our big hike to the Mendenhall Glacier. However, we wanted to take advantage of all the time we had in Juneau and get our legs moving without overdoing it. So we set out to explore the town.
We took the Goldbelt Tram ride up to Mount Roberts. Not only was the ride breathtaking, there was on-board entertainment by the tram operator. He told stories of the pair of eagles nicknamed “Elvis” and “Pricilla” that were frequently perched in the trees on Mount Roberts. He played a small hand drum and sang songs of the local natives, the Tlingits, as taught to him by his mother who is of native heritage herself.
Once we ascended the 1,800 feet, we did a little exploring and photography. Most of all we took in the beauty among us. Below us, the Gastineau Chanel, ships, and downtown Juneau. Surrounding us were mountains, rainforest, and clouds. We couldn’t help but be in awe. We took a short hike and encountered crooked trees, a distant stream, and tree carvings. We even made a visit to the Nature Center before starting our journey back to the hotel.
With Thursday being our big hike, the Mendenhall Glacier Trek, we hit the sack early-ish to ensure we would be well rested and ready for our next adventure.
To be continued…