July 12, 2012
Today we shelled out $72.50 for two adults and a child to ride the Mount Roberts Tramway up the side of Mount Roberts. We are definitely back in the “Alaska Tourist Zone” again with all the high-priced gift shops, jewelry stores and spendy attractions that surround the cruise ship docks. Our time in Wrangell and Petersburg was a pleasant respite from all this nonsense.
But the tram was a good ride and, given that we are having the first sunny day of our trip, the views were pretty darn spectacular. A short hike from the upper tramway station found us in a subalpine zone, even with a few lingering snow patches to glissade on. We could see most of the mountains surrounding Juneau, up and down Gastineau Channel, and out across Auke Bay and northern Stephens Passage to the Chilkat Range.
The tram station also hosts a great movie on Tlingit history and culture of the area. A Tlingit native introduces the film and teaches a few phrases in the native language. The award-winning film describes the birth of the Tlingit people, how Raven brought the sun to them, the arrival of Russians, the departure of Russians and then the arrival of Americans who worked towards eliminating the native way of life. In the end, the film speaks of today Tlingit as a people with the opportunity to combine the best of their native cultural heritage as well as what modern jobs and way of life have to offer.
I wished we had time for more hiking on Mount Roberts, but the next leg of our trip takes us to Glacier Bay via a 4:15pm Alaska Airlines flight to Gustavus. So it was back down the tram, a stop at a grocery store to stock up on a few lunch things, and off to the airport. We will be spending more time in Juneau after our side trip to Glacier Bay.
The flight from Juneau to Gustavus was a whopping 13 minutes in the air. 40 more frequent flier miles. Glacier Bay Lodge provides a bus to haul in visitors from the airport. Within 10 minutes on the bus, we spotted a mother black bear crossing the road in front of us with three new cubs. I managed to squeeze off one shot between people’s heads and out through the front window.
We checked into the Glacier Bay Lodge in Glacier Bay National Park and had a tasty (and expensive) lodge dinner, Sheila noting that the salmon was exceptionally fresh and cooked to perfection. Chateau St. Michelle Riesling seems to be available in all the Southeast Alaska restaurants we have visited, which is great since it is one of my favorites.
While Sheila put Linnea to bed, I walked the one mile Forest Loop Trail. Being by myself, having just seen the bears, and after hearing that a mother moose with her calf was in the area, I scuffed my feet on the trail a more than usual as I walked to stir up a little noise and avoid any “big animal” surprises.