Catching Up

Fishing Fleet

Baranof Warm Springs

Baranof Warm Springs

View from the Bath House

Juneau – View from the Helicopter

Dilly Driving

Dog Camp

Our Rides

Dylan and Mom

Takeoff Silliness

Amalga Distillery

Chilkoot Distillery

Cap’n Mike at Poppies

Pelican – The Town on a Pier

Anchored Outside Cordova

Catch of the Day

Stairstep Falls



Dilly and the Dogs

Wow – we’ve covered a lot of ground – well technically water – since I last wrote.  We started out this leg with a few more glaciers.  First was the Chenega Glacier, which is one of the most actively calving glaciers in the area.  It did not disappoint.  Though we had witnessed it before, the thundering and explosive sounds the glacier makes, followed by huge masses of ice falling to the sea below was just as magical as the first time we heard and saw it.  There’s just something about the enormity of it all – it almost seems as if the glacier is alive.  In hopes of capturing some of this up close, I got brave and decided to fly my new drone closer to the action.  It was pretty windy that day, and I was having trouble getting it to land back on the boat.  All of a sudden, it was off and flying speedily away into the wild blue yonder. I panicked because I could no longer see it and just knew it was gone for good.  Thankfully Cap’n Mike heard my harried screams and came running to calm me down and remind me that I could look down on the screen and see what the drone was seeing.  In short order, we could see the drone and flew it safely back to the boat.  After it had been on its own little adventure, I was anxious to see what it got recorded.  And guess what?  I forgot to remove the gimbal clip, which meant all the footage was completely shaky and useless.  Ugh…  I decided I needed more practice, so at the next anchorage I flew her again.  Proud of my improved flight and landing skills, I eagerly opened the app to see my footage.  And this time….I forgot to hit record.  Seriously??? Apparently I need a preflight checklist for this little jewel.


The next, and final, glacier we visited was the Nellie Juan Glacier.  The bay was filled with icebergs, so we anchored elsewhere and took a very chilly dingy ride over to the glacier.  The glacier itself was beautiful and had the deepest blue colors we had seen yet.  But what was even more magnificent was the amazing blue icebergs in the water.  I have never seen anything like it.  There was one that went from a deep blue on one end and lightened all the way to a light aquamarine on the other.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  I could have stared at them for hours – except it was cold! We also passed by Stairstep falls on this excursion, so picturesque and peaceful.


And then…it started to rain. And it rained and rained and rained some more.  We made our way over to Cordova, but there was no room at the docks, so we anchored out and dingied back and forth from the boat to town.  So far on this trip, our cell phones had worked in all the little towns.  Not so here. So, we spent some quality time at the library to use the wifi and get caught up on what’s going on in the world. Let me just say – Alaska seems to use their tax money well.  The public docks, libraries and parks are very nice and well-maintained.   I have been extremely impressed.  Another interesting thing we’ve noticed about Alaska is that the bars all seem to look the same.  Very old, dark, with the old fashioned long wooden bar and usually a pool table or two. We went to one that we heard had good burgers.  I almost turned around and left when we walked in because it looked really run down and a little scary.  But boy am I glad we stayed.  That’s the best burger I’ve had in a long time!  I guess it’s true – you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Just hoping the kitchen had some semblance of cleanliness.


It was while we were anchored near Cordova that we encountered some very playful and friendly sea otters.  They were always fairly near the boat, popping their heads up and watching to see what we were up to.  One evening, however, they decided to come right up to the boat.  They seemed especially intrigued with Henry, as he was with them.  It was such fun watching them interact with one another.  Got a great video I think you’ll enjoy!  Later that night after Cap’n Mike and Henry were already in bed, I heard a noise outside and decided to go check it out.  As I came out the door, a sea otter jumped off our swim step back into the water.  Guess he needed a little break!  Of course I had to go wake the guys up and tell ‘em about our little visitor.


At this point, it was time to transit across the Gulf of Alaska over to the Inside Passage.  It was foggy, and fairly rough seas, with on and off periods of rain.  On the last morning of that passage, I had the 0400 to 0600 watch.  Still  rough seas and fog, so I was paying close attention…thank goodness, because seemingly out of nowhere appeared a burned up boat – probably 60-80 footer – about 50 yards in front of us.  Holy cow did that wake me up.  Thankfully I was able to steer away from the hazard and all was well.  It definitely got my heart racing though!


Safely across the Gulf, our first stop was a tiny town called Pelican.  The town is actually built along a pier that stretches about a mile and a half along the coast.  We paid our moorage fee at the “city hall,” which was about the size of a one bedroom house.  We found the one nice restaurant in town, which was associated with an inn that served tourists who arrived mostly by seaplane for fishing vacations. Unfortunately, they didn’t have room for us, as they were full up with guests.  So, we went to the only other restaurant in town.  And their only option on the menu was pizza.  We had made pizza on the boat for lunch that day, but we stayed and had pizza again anyway.  All by ourselves.  Not another soul in sight.  Next we visited Rosie’s bar next door, where the local fishermen would come in and out and share their stories of the day’s catch.


The next day we made our way over to a Tlingit (prounounced Klinket) village called Hoonah.  We were looking forward to checking out the Hoonah Brewery and grabbing a bite for dinner.  Turns out that everything in town pretty much shuts down when there’s not a cruise ship in port.  So no brewery and no dinner out.  So, we just went back to the boat and had a nice leisurely dinner on board.


Next we headed all the way up to Skagway, where there were 3-4 cruise ships in port on a daily basis. The first afternoon we hiked up to lower Dewey lake, and I realized how out of shape my legs are for climbing – gotta do something about that!  It was a beautiful hike, and Henry enjoyed the exercise – I think a bit more than I did. I was starving after that, so we found a dog friendly restaurant in town and had some amazing crab and salmon nachos, washed down with a super yummy margarita.  Well you know what comes next – a big nap!  We woke up just in time to make it to the famous local show about one of its notorious outlaws.  Tiny theater and audience, but talented singers and dancers who put on a great show. We ended up staying in Skagway longer than expected due to gale force winds and generally nasty weather.  On the one nice weather day we had there, we rode our bikes out to Jewell Gardens and had a delicious lunch of Duck Salad (my first time trying duck, and I liked it!), followed by this scrumptious little lemon sorbet thing.  Yum!


Finally the wind was forecast to die down, so we got underway and headed to Haines. Thankfully that wasn’t a very long trip because the forecast wasn’t correct.  Once we got away from the protected Skagway area, the winds and seas whipped up and we had quite the uncomfortable ride for a few hours.  We also hadn’t tightened a couple of the hatches in the master cabin, and ended up with some very wet stuff.  When will we learn?  Did I mention – its still raining?   We enjoyed our time in Haines though, with my favorite place being the Chilkoot Distillery, where I discovered a tasty little gem called a Gin Gimlet.  Their creative labeling was done by a local artist, as were their t-shirts, so of course I had to have a bottle and a shirt to bring home with me.  Which also meant I needed to get rid of a shirt or two – only so much room on the boat. So we both went through our things and made a donation at the local thrift shop.


We moved on to Juneau, mooring in Auke Bay.  We made a point to get there a day before my scheduled, and long-anticipated hair appointment – can’t be running all over Alaska with my roots showing!   I had called all over town several weeks earlier looking for an appointment because there seem to be so few salons.  So we goofed around the next morning and finally showed up for my appointment at 3:30 that afternoon.  I walked in and the one lady at the salon looked at me like I was crazy when I said I had an appointment.  I showed her the confirmation email I had, and she promptly informed me that particular stylist had left town in the middle of the night and never come back.  And she couldn’t help me, nor could I have my $50 deposit back because they each run their own business.  Wah!!! I honestly was more disappointed about not getting the appointment than about the deposit (which I have subsequently taken up with my credit card).  So, Cap’n Mike did what any good husband would do and promptly took me to town for happy hour.  As the next day was Sunday, and Dylan would be arriving on Monday, I decided just to wait to try another town for the hair.  And wore a hat.


Monday finally arrived and I got to pick up my sweet babygirl Dylan from the Airport!  Yes, she’s 23, but she’s still my babygirl. We went for pizza in town and then visited the Amalga distillery where we tried their specialty, the Sea Donkey (gin and ginger beer – not bad).  The next day Dylan and I went on a helicopter tour, which took us to the North Glacier where we landed and went on a dog sled ride and got to play with the dogs afterwards. So much fun.  And cold.   The dog camp is only there for the summer, and the mushers stay out there in tents with wooden floors for seven days at a time.  They’re tougher than me!  Our musher had 25 of her older sister’s dogs out there, some of which will be doing the legendary Iditarod race next year.  After we flew back into Juneau, we rode up the Mount Roberts Tram and had a lovely lunch followed by the most delectable whiskey bread pudding I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Gonna need to get a little more exercise action going soon!


Our next stop with Dylan in tow was Baranof Warm Springs.  We hiked the half mile up to the natural warm springs – which are actually very hot.  The pool of hot springs was situated right at the top of a spectacular waterfall – I swear folks, I couldn’t make this stuff up.  Just beautiful.  Later that afternoon we enjoyed a nice warm bath at the local bathhouse, which was a simple wooden building  on stilts, with 3 small rooms, each of which had a large soaking tub and an open air window with an amazing view of the waterfall.  Pure heaven…with a touch of sulfer smell.  Unfortunately, Dylan was starting to feel pretty rotten with a sore throat.  I was hoping the hot springs might help her sweat it out, but no such luck.  We arrived in Sitka the following day, and went directly to the urgent care.  Diagnosis: strep throat.  Poor babygirl.  We walked to the local pharmacy and picked up her meds, then got her back to the boat to get some rest.  She was a trooper for the next couple of days, trying to enjoy our time together, but I could tell she just didn’t feel good.  I’m sad she was sick for a big part of this trip, but even so, I was so grateful just to get to spend some time with her.  Mike and I are both looking forward to getting back to mainland USA so that we’ll be closer to all of our kids and not an 8-hour plane ride away. Thankfully, we did get to see some amazing wildlife while Dylan was aboard.  Lots of whales, including a very slap-happy humpback you’ll want to check out in the video below, eagles, seals, and sea otters.


We stayed in Sitka a couple more days, as I had scheduled myself for that much anticipated hair appointment.  I arrived a little earlier, and, you guessed it, they had failed to get the booking in the system.  I must have looked like I was about to cry, because the owner of the shop (again, the sole person there) moved some appointments around and fit me in.  I think it helped that I had the confirmation text to show her.  She ended up being a wonderful stylist and a joy to visit with.  And just like that, the grays were gone and I was happy as a lark! Our last night in Sitka, Mike treated me to an early birthday dinner at a charming little Bistro called Ludwigs, preceded by a champagne toast in the wine bar upstairs.  It was a lovely evening.


Next stop was Petersburg, a cute little town with a Norwegian heritage.  We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and found our way to the Harbor Bar – another typical Alaskan dive – where we enjoyed a tasty little snack from the little grill next door – they deliver to the bar for free! It’s good that we liked their food, because that was the only place we could find open on Sunday for breakfast or lunch.  These little towns are very charming, but do not have the same conveniences of the big cities many of us are used to.  The drug stores are still like the small family-owned ones I remember from my childhood, and carry everything from Tylenol to the shiny new bike in the store window.   No CVS or Long’s Drugs here.  That morning, we went for a nice bike ride around the town while there was a brief sun break.  Raining again, we spent Sunday afternoon watching the Godfather on DVD, which I’m a little embarrassed to admit I had never seen before.


So I think we are all caught up at this point.  We are still having fun and enjoying this journey.  And we still have lots to see over the next month or so before we get to Washington state.  I hope you all have had a wonderful summer.  Until next time…live the adventure!