July 25-29, 2022 Days 59-63: Juneau
Monday July 25 Day: 59 The kids and I had a quiet morning. When Chris was done with work we met up with Bryan and Nadine and we went to Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure. This is a botanical garden set on the edge of Tongass National Forest. Tongass National Forest is almost 17,000,000 acres and most of it is a temperate rainforest. After a landslide went through the area Steve Bowhay purchased the land in hopes of restoring a stream and the land. In the process he created numerous ponds, waterfalls, gardens, he also made a road to take tours throughout the gardens and a lookout point. Being here seeing how people and nature can work together is really awe inspiring. One of the unique parts of these gardens are the tree towers/upside down gardens. The story we were told about these tree towers was when Steve was using some machinery to move boulders something happened that caused some damage. In his frustration he used the machinery to lift up a dead fallen tree and he slammed it into the ground upside down. The trunk was in the ground and the roots were up in the air. Now he uses those upside down trees as planters for flowers and other plants, and the results are really beautiful. Something else we learned on this tour is that these trees have very shallow roots. They can’t send down deep tap roots due to the rock of the mountain. There is only a very small layer of dirt covering very solid rock. These trees link their roots together to keep them strong. Since they have a shallow root system these trees make great upside down planters.
We paid for our tour and walked around a little bit, then we were called and we loaded up on a tram and our tour officially started. The tram goes up the mountain 600 feet; on the ride up the mountain we were able to see the gardens Steve planted and cared for. He did a great job of incorporating the natural plants of the forest into the more cared for parts of his garden. We were told he doesn’t care when the deer come and eat his plants, he can always replant them. The higher we went the less human cared for gardens we saw, and more nature cared for forest we saw. Once we were at 580 feet we were able to get out and walk around. There was a beautiful overlook of the city and the mountains. We’ve had some pretty foggy/overcast days here in Juneau the last few days and today was not the exception. While the views were mystical with the fog, we had to use our imagination for the mountains and vibrant colors that Juneau has to offer.
We got back on the tram and headed down. Due to the steep grade of the road we couldn’t come down the same way we came up. I guess Steve made a deal with the US Forest Services and he was able to make a road coming down through the Tongass National Forest. We made it back safely and we all seemed to really enjoy Glacier Gardens.
We still had some daylight so we decided to head towards Mendenhall Glacier and go to Steep Creek to hopefully spot some bears. We did see two salmon in the water, but no bears yet. We did have to pay to see this area of Mendenhall Glacier, so we decided to see all the places of Mendenhall Glacier that required a fee. We went to the visitor center and watched the video on the Mendenhall Glacier, and we walked Photo Point Trail. On the way to that trail we saw a beaver on land, get into the water, swim across the pond, and get out on a different part of land. It was very exciting for the kids and I to see!
We were out later than we intended so we picked up Domino’s Pizza for dinner.
Tuesday: July 26, 2022 Day: 60 Juneau
I can’t believe we have been gone for 60 days, what a trip we have had!
Today was another quiet morning that we spent doing laundry and other chores. We didn’t meet up with the McBrides until after Chris was done with work.
After work we headed to Nugget Falls at Mendenhall Glacier. Nugget Falls is a very impressive waterfall that is a short hike from the parking lot at Mendenhall Glacier. Ellen is starting to get pretty independent and she wanted to walk a lot herself. She loved climbing on every rock she saw. She was also carried a decent amount as well.
While Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls are very very impressive, they are also very crowded. There were a lot of people on the trails and a lot of people at the falls as well. Luckily we had enough space to enjoy the falls. The kids loved playing in the sand at the base of the falls and climbing on big rocks. It really was very impressive.
After hiking we came home and had fish and chips from the halibut we caught. Chris and Bryan took the big kids to the park while Nadine and I cooked the food. It’s nice having so many extra hands to help out.
Wednesday July 27, 2022 Day: 61
Ellen had a rough night the night before so we were a bit tired/grouchy in the morning.
We met up with the McBrides at 10:00 AM this morning. The Kids and I went with them to ride Mt. Roberts Goldbelt Tram. This tram is a sky tram and is similar to a gondola, but it holds a lot of people, mostly just standing room only. The cool thing about the tram is that the ticket is good for all day, we could ride it as much as we wanted. We got our tickets and we did have to wait in line for a bit. We were told it would be close to an hour wait, but I think it was closer to a half hour wait. The tram we took was very crowded. We got to the top and walked around the gift shop, and watched the movie about the Tlingt People, and we walked around outside. Bryan and Nadine took the big kids on a hike while I stayed with Ellen as she played in the roots of a tree. It was hard with Ellen as she wanted up and down and up and down. Plus I don’t do well with crowds. I did miss having Chris around to help carry Ellen, but I was grateful that the McBrides were there to help with my big kids.
After we made it off the mountain we headed back home. I needed Ellen to take a nap and I needed to feed the kids and me lunch. The McBrides dropped us off and they went and did their own thing.
At 3:00PM they came and picked us up, Chris included this time. We had a reservation for the AJ Mine/Gastineau Goldmine Tour. After finding parking we made it to where our tour started. We hopped on a bus that took us to the mine. The bus dropped us off at the mine entrance and our tour guide took us in the mine and showed us and explained things to us. Ellen was a little busy and didn’t love wearing her hard hat the whole time. Chris and I took turns keeping her quiet and occupied. The big kids seemed to really enjoy the tour, especially Ryan. The guide did a good job of including the big kids in the tour.
After we were in the mine we hopped on the bus again and it took us down the mountain a bit. We had another presentation explaining what the mine was like in 1914/1915. We then went over to see how the mine used stomp machines back in the day. Finally we were able to pan for gold. Everyone in our group found some and it was a highlight for all three of the kids.
Since the mine tour ended downtown right by where the trams were, we decided to have Chris join us this time and ride the tram up the mountain. This time Lillian had more time in the giftshop and she picked out a really pretty sterling silver and blue opal ring.
It was late when we were getting home so we got the kids McDonalds and the grown ups got Chinese food at Asiana Gardens.
Thursday July 28, 2022 Day 62: Today the McBrides did a boat tour to Tracy Arm. We loved our time touring Tracy Arm and felt like the McBrides would enjoy it too. Tracy Arm has Sawyer Glacier, which is a calving tidal glacier, and a ton of icebergs, it’s also a narrow fjord. It’s a very beautiful place. It did rain most of the day, but I think they enjoyed their trip. They got back around dinner time, they ate, then we all went to Cerealsly Milky, an ice cream shop here in Juneau that uses liquid nitrogen to make their ice cream.
Friday July 29, 2022 Day 63: This weekend the McBrides are taking a plane to Skagway, then the fast ferry back to Juneau. We were hoping to boat there in our boat so we could play with the McBrides in Skagway. Unfortunately the water had other plans. The waters were a little more rough than we had wanted to go for a long time so we will stay here this weekend. The McBrides had to be at the airport at 6:30 AM. Chris woke up to drop them off so we could use their car this weekend, since we couldn’t go with them. Dropping them off went off without a hitch, and Chris made it back. About 8:30 AM the McBrides let us know their flight was canceled due to fog. Luckily they were able to get another flight that afternoon at 3:00 PM, as long as the fog lifted. Chris picked them up and they came here for a bit. They invited the kids and I out to explore with them, but it was getting close to lunch and naptime and I didn’t want to slow them down too much, so they went out without us. They came back in time to pick me up so I could drop them off at the airport. Luckily this time they were able to get on their flight and they made it to Skagway! Since I was thinking we’d be in Skagway Friday night for dinner, I didn’t have anything planned for dinner. Chris went and picked up pizza at Juneau Pizza. We all really liked it!
Ryan’s Thoughts: We got gold at the mine and rode the tram!
Lillian’s Thoughts: We went on a hike to Nugget Falls. Then we went on a tram and a gold mine.