Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Port in Juneau

After leaving Ketchikan, our next stop was Juneau. Because all the ports are at sea level (obviously) they are in what is called a temperate rainforest, which means that even though we were far north, there is very little snow during the winter but they can get lots of rain. Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places on earth with over 160" of rain per year. Juneau gets quite a bit but not that much. The day we were there it rained, not 'misted' which was again unusual but it wasn't as cold as the day before. We were able to take a tour of Glacier Gardens, a privately owned property that had been developed a few years ago from land that had had a huge landslide and took down a lot of tall Fir and Cedar trees. The man was trying to reclaim the land and restore it and got the idea to take all the dead, uprooted trees and put them in the ground up-side-down with the roots on top. You can see the results. He uses them as hanging gardens with all kinds of exotic plants such as fuscias and begonias as well as petunias, ferns, etc. He has created by hand by himself about 50 acres of beautiful gardens, built ponds, planted each bush and plant that's in the ground as well. He certainly took a lemon and made lemonade. He has 3 huge greenhouses where he overwinters plants for the local people plus grows any kind of plant you'd want for sale. This garden tour was really the highlight of my trip. I think I could live there! We were taken by a 20 passenger golf cart 600 feet to the top, to an awesome view of Juneau.

We also went to the Mendenhall Glacier which is the only one that you can drive to by car. It was really awesome. The ice has been under pressure for years and years of snow piling on and as it comes to the bottom, it is crystal clear ice and very blue and melts about 1/4 as fast as regular ice. The parts of the iceberg in the water you can see are only about 1/10 of its actual size. We were told that the glacier is actually receding at a rate of about 60 feet per year although last year it receded 200 feet!