Last week I wrote about our lovely accommodations aboard our cruise ship and how Bruce and I went zip-lining in Ketchikan. The next day we docked in Juneau and took a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier.
Our bus driver, Steve, was a tall, lean Scot with hippie hair and clothing but a wealth of local and state history. His Scottish brogue made his stories even more entertaining. Along the way, Steve pointed out eagles, spawning salmon and a bear up a tree. At the glacier, we didn’t have time to hike all the way up close. But even down river the glacier is beautiful but intimidating: a blue-iced monster with craggy crocodile-like dorsal spikes and crevasses so deep you don’t want to imagine what it would be like to fall into one of them.
One of Steve’s interesting tidbits about Alaska was how the U.S. ended up buying the Alaska territory from the Russians. It seems that the Russians were realizing that it was expensive and challenging to take care of this huge property. Indeed, in the time it would take for Russia to be apprised of a foreign invader and to respond with troups—well—it just was too darned hard to keep tabs on her. Besides, the fur trade was about the only thing she was good for. So in 1867, William Seward, then Secretary of State, arranged the sale, for 7.2 million. (About 125 million in today’s market) Most Americans considered this sale “Seward’s folly” until gold turned up not long afterward.
Here’s a spectacular view from the tram looking down on Juneau, the capital.
In Skagway, we had arranged for a morning’s brisk hike—and I do mean brisk— followed by a raft trip down the Skagway River. Here’s our wonderful and incredibly in-shape guide, John, who hails from New Jersey, but you’d never know it by his accent.
The Skagway River, surprisingly, is silver colored because of all the glacial silt.
I wish I’d been able to take more photos of our raft trip, but we were all hanging on for dear life. John acted blasé, but at one point where he tried to avoid getting our raft caught on a snarl of dead trees in the river, he almost blew his cool, huffing and straining at his oars.
This land is magnificent. I’m so glad that God, in His sovereignty, made it a part of our nation. We are enriched and blessed by the wonders of Alaska.
Next week I’ll tell you about the drama of a real-life rescue at sea.
Have a great week and, if you haven’t already done so, consider a cruise to Alaska!