Part of our trip to Skagway Alaska involved looking for gold. We had some very amazing prospectors show us how to swirl and dunk to find gold in a pan of sand. They had some very large gold nuggets for the presentation but assured us that they had removed all the large gold piece so we didn't have to worry about gold nuggets. Brian had tried gold panning before but this was my first time. I was very uncomfortable with the idea of dumping the sand into the water but was really good at swirling the pan. After I was show how to remove the sand and get the gold, I enjoyed the gold panning adventure. Brian and I added the gold flecks we found together and got a lovely pendent with real Alaska gold for a souvenir.
The second stop on our cruise of Alaska was a little town called Skagway. It is one of the towns that grew up during the gold mining days of Alaska. Today the town is still small and most residents live in tents and RVs while in Skagway and then winter in the lower 48 states. We had a great time riding a train along the mountain passes and seeing the trails and hearing some of the history of the gold miners. The train follows the White Pass. We saw some lovely waterfalls and snow covered mountains. We were lucky enough to see not just one but two black bears. A small cub or juvenile (who was more Cinnamon colored then black) was right next to the train tracks. I have never seen a bear that close in the wild. We weren't fast enough to get a picture of him but did get a picture of an older black bear that was a little farther up the hill from the train. The train went all the way into Canada. We didn't get off the train so didn't need any passports to reenter the states. It was the first time I have been out of the United States and the first time Brian has been in Canada. This port was our longest stay so we spent a few hours wandering the 8 city blocks and exploring the local stores for souvenirs. We had a lot of fun in Skagway.
After a two hour delay we left Salt Lake City and flew to Seattle. We had to hurry once there to catch our cruise but did get to see a few of the more important sights of Seattle as we made our way from the airport to the pier. The Space Needle, naturally,was the most prominent feature of the Seattle skyline. It wasn't long after we boarded the lovely Norwegian Pearl that we were on our way to Alaska. We had fun watching the scenery float by and exploring the ship for all the different entertainment options as we spent a whole day just sailing. We arrived at the port of Juno Alaska in the early afternoon of our second day. It was foggy, raining and cold. Apparently that's the way Juno is most of the year. We spent a couple of hours while we were in Juno admiring the blue ice of the Medenhall Glacier. I have never seen such large ice floats except in movies before. They really are big enough to do some damage to a ship. Near the glacier was a large waterfall called Nugget falls. The glacier and waterfall together made a lovely picture. After the glacier, we rode a tram up Mt Roberts. Unfortunately it was so foggy we couldn't see much even from that height. We did get to see our first live Bald Eagle named Lady Baltimore while there so it was still a neat visit. We weren't staying in port very long so we had to hurry and make a few purchases and get back to the ship. All in all, our first experience with Alaska was cold, rainy, and thrilling.