A brief detour
Aboard the Sheltered Seas
Petersburg to Ketchikan
A Week in JuneauBack in Juneau, we spent a leisurely week in our suite hotel; it’s good to have time to regroup, do laundry and sightsee at a leisurely pace. JS’s cousin Joyce introduced us to the city; she lives on the last residential street before the Mendenhall Glacier. We were too early for her daughter Angie’s wedding but we met the happy couple between their days of work and nights building their own home. Unfortunately, we missed meeting Joyce’s husband, Jim; he was at sea auditing environmental compliance of a large cruise ship.
Juneau is a lovely city, not unlike Bergen in Norway in the way the streets and houses go up the mountains. With Joyce we rode the Mt. Roberts tram to enjoy the dramatic views. This tram has a steeper incline than we've experienced before. We lingered at the top to enjoy the views and to avoid the long line of cruise-ship passengers heading for their 6 p.m. shipboard seatings. It gave us a good chance to chat with Joyce.
We were in several towns when they were inundated by the large cruise ships and the 2,000 people per ship are overwhelming, to say nothing of the change in the landscape; you can't see across the sound in Juneau to Douglas Island with four of those behemoths in port. The passengers all seem to be in competition to see who can spend the most money. This has been detrimental to local economies in some places; Joyce reports that many locally-owned stores have given way to chains (H.Stern, Little Switzerland, and the like) and they close up when the cruise season ends, leaving empty storefronts in the downtown area. Petersburg (more later) has avoided this because only the smaller boats can moor there. Juneau and Ketchikan (and probably Sitka) suffer the most. We tried to shop at locally-owned stores but did find our way to Fred Meyer, a Pacific Coast superstore chain, on several occasions.
“Doing Juneau” is not hard; the only way out is by boat or airplane. Signs indicating “End of the Road” were ubiquitous. Joyce said it was great raising her daughters there; she knew they couldn’t ever be far from home.
We went out to Mendenhall Glacier twice and saw the local beaver and his dam that is periodically reduced in size by the Park Service to avoid flooding the roads. He’s quite industrious. The saga of the glacier is quite alarming; it used to recede about 30 feet per year; that doubled about ten years ago and last year, the Mendenhall receded 600 feet. It is true that we are at the end of the Little Ice Age and most glaciers should naturally be pulling back (some are advancing) but the increase in speed no doubt indicates global warming. A major article appearing in The New York Times Travel Section as we were en route home suggested people see Alaska before it melts. All of the other glaciers we saw had also retreated; Sue, Rob and Joyce were able to point out the extent of the melting in their 20 and 30 years’ experience.
Jean Sue and Joyce
|© Robert and Jean Sue Libkind|