Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Day 21 – Canada/Alaska – Juneau, part 1.

Here we are, berthed in the capital of Aaska – Juneau!

Yes, I thought it was Anchorage too, but Juneau, though tiny, had a far greater advantage than the more populous Anchorage.


Though, as our guide to the sledding dogs’ camp said, “If anyone thinks they can retire up here and strike it rich – think again. The biggest nugget pulled out of here last year was only worth $12.”

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here, mentioning sledding dogs… and puppies.

First I had to fly up to a glacier and walk around!

When we hurriedly signed up for this cruise, we were each given $500 ship credits. Megan spent hers mainly on massages. I spent mine mainly on this excursion.

Actually, each shore day on this cruise, we were able to go on a ‘free’ excursion, so we’ve been busy doing at least one thing every single day. This one was an optional extra.

I’ve only been up in a chopper once before when I spent the night in Albury on my way to Sydney in 2019. I forgot how much you can see from up here! Fortunate Frogdancer was assigned the seat next to the pilot, so I could see it all laid out before me.

It almost looks like abstract art, doesn’t it?

There is different footwear for different glaciers, it seems. Here’s my neighbour’s foot encased in her glacier shoe – an overshoe with plastic spikes that we had to wear to give us a little more traction on the ice.

I wanted to show you the texture of the ice. Isn’t it incredible?

Three helicopters touched gently down on the ice and we all got out.

Here I am, subtly showing my appreciation of this scenery.

But seriously – look at the different textures and lines in the ice. It was beautiful.

A look towards the edge.

There were blue rivulets of water running all through the place.

“Here is the drinks bar,” said the tour leader, an American girl with impossibly straight teeth. Her parents must have paid a fortune for them. “You can lie down on the ice and drink glacial water.”

She demonstrated.

l, of course, jumped straight over to the other side of the stream where the ground was flatter, and gave it a go.

A kind woman offered to take my photo. I tried to do a plank because I didn’t want to get wet in this cold air…

… and I had a mouthful of pure. clear water. It went all over my face.

As you’d expect, it was cold.

Megan was friends with an Australian couple who went on the trip with me.

“She just dived straight on!” said the woman to Megan afterwards.

“Yes, Frogdancer has no fear!” said Megan.

This is my phone on extreme magnification, trying to take a picture of a mountain goat and her baby. The white dot in the centre is apparently what I was searching for.

“She gave birth a week ago,” said the teeth girl. “We’ve been watching them get out and about.”

A man with a better phone took this photo. If you make it bigger, you’ll be able to see the goat.

I need a better phone.

After 30 minutes, which seemed like 10, we had to leave.

The guides stay up there all day. There’s a little white tent where they keep their food and their … bucket… and they greet a new crop of visitors every 45 minutes or so.

Happy me. It was a good way to see a glacier. I was glad I’d chosen this excursion.

This glacier finishes in a river system, only a short distance from the sea.

In the time that we were up there, 1 million gallons (which is 3,800,000 litres) had gone from the glacier to the river. It’s being replenished from the mountains above, but not at the same rate as it’s melting, so this glacier is gradually getting smaller.

Once I was back in Juneau, I took a walk around town.

Fur-lined sandals, anyone?

There’s not really much to this town. It’s built on a very narrow strip between the harbour and the mountains, so the housing behind the shopping strip are up a LOT of steps.

I liked the pink and teal planters that someone has here.

The Red Dog Saloon is reputedly the first bar that was built here. They’ve played upon this reputation, with barmaids dressed in old-timey clothes and sawdust on the floor.

I poked my head around the door and took a look.

I went next door to where they serve their specialised drink – the Duck Fart. I asked the girl if she was cold.

“No, I have a secret heater right by my feet!” she said.

The Duck Fart is 1/3 Baileys, 1/3 Kahlua and 1/3 Canadian Whiskey – in this case it was Crown Royal.

It was just after 1 PM. I figured that it was wine o’clock somewhere in the world, so why not try it?


Quack quack.

Juneau seemed a town made up of jewellery stores, eateries and pretty much nothing else. I asked the Duck Fart girl if there was a place in town to get my ear pierced and she sent me on a wild-goose chase to the tattoo parlour.

When I got there, the tattooist said, “We can’t get a piercer to come to town. You need 1,600 hours training before you can do the job.”

A fat guy lounging by the counter said morosely, “You can be a cop easier than you can be a piercer.”

I toyed momentarily with the idea of getting a poppy tattoo instead, but I gave my kids so much hell when they got tattoos that I decided that I couldn’t do it. Even with the tattooist’s urging, “Go on… be a hypocrite!” I couldn’t do it.

I walked back into town, but there was nothing much to see, so I went back to the ship for lunch. If I was paying for the cruise and the ship was right there on the dock, why not?

After lunch, I checked my emails and realised I’d missed an email from Rae, a blog reader who actually lives here. She was going to be in a coffee shop for a little while that morning. I probably logged off from my email just as she posted the invite. I was so upset!

(So if you’re reading this Rae – I definitely would have come down on the dock earlier to meet you. The offer stands for hospitality if you’re ever in Melbourne. )

I’ll leave this post for now, but at 5:30 that day we went to the dog sledder’s camp. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow!

1 Comment

  1. Josie

    So glad you got to see the glacier up close – isn’t it marvelous! And I cannot get over the quality photos your old phone takes!

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