Alaska Cruise – Day 6

We started the day with a balcony breakfast as we sailed in to Tracy Arm fjord. We were a little concerned about this part of the trip because the cruise immediately before us wasn’t able to get very far in due to ice and weather. Thankfully that wasn’t an issue for us, and we enjoyed some amazing views while we ate some delicious salmon and crab. There were quite a few glacier blue icebergs floating in the water, but we were able to avoid all of them and get all the way in so that we could see the Sawyer glacier. We spent a little time there before turning back and heading out. On the way out we were treated to some glass smooth seas and got to see a solitary humpback whale from our balconies.

From Tracy Arm, we sailed to up to Juneau to spend the rest of the day on land. Our first stop was the AJ Mine Gastineau Mill tour. We got to go in to what was once a working gold mine, learned about hard rock mining, and got to do a little panning for gold. Reese spent a good bit of time panning and ended up with some decent flakes and a few garnets.

We headed back in to town after that tour and split off. I went down to the Alaskan Brewery‘s store to sign up for the tour and tasting while the rest of the group walked around and shopped. I missed the shuttle by about five minutes, so after signing up for the next one, I wandered around and did a little shopping. Once we were ready to leave, we got in the van and drove out to the brewery. We went past the governor’s mansion and down to the industrial area where the brewery actually is. You’ll have to use ground transportation to get there because it’s about 6 miles outside town.

The tour was pretty quick because the tasting room, which was the original brewery, is smack in the middle of the brewery. We could see everything from the three sides of the room while we sampled some of their great beers. We got to drink the Amber, White, Icy Bay IPA, and Smoked Porter. All of them were great, but I really loved the smoked porter. They smoke the malt in-house with alder, using a salmon smoker they bought a few years ago. After we finished the tasting, we went out to the store and got to try a few more beers they had on tap. I tried the Gold Creek Ale and Taku River Red Ale, both of which were good, but I liked the red more. It’s a pretty hoppy red ale and I really hope it goes in to national distribution. I picked up a bottle of their barley wine and a bottle of their raspberry wheat to bring home (hopefully they’ll survive the luggage gorillas) and then headed back in to town.

When I got back, I pinged Heather and headed for the Mt. Roberts Tramway. I missed the rest of the group, actually watching their car pull away and go up the mountain, so I caught the next one and met them at the top. We wandered around, doing a little shopping, before watching a film about the Tlingit people. The tramway and everything at the top is run by a native-owned corporation, so we made sure to spend some money there. After that, we went back down and headed back to the ship to grab a really late dinner.