Category Archives: Alaska

#ElCafeDe2013: The Coffee of Inside Passage Alaska.

While on an Alaskan Cruise this summer we made three stops within the Inside Passage of Alaska. Of course there was going to be some coffee shop exploration at each. Our first stop was in Ketchikan and the coffee shop of choice was Good Coffee Company.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Ketchikan

After a pre-dawn start watching our ship come into port and then exploring the town and having some cruise excursion fun, the basic latte I ordered definitely hit the spot. Note: Good Coffee is cash only.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Ketchikan

I scoped out the cream and sugar stand. Notice the Deadman’s Reach sticker? Foreshadowing for the coffee I’d be trying out later. 🙂

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Ketchikan

The outdoor terrace behind the building was the place to enjoy the coffee. It was fun being in an establishment with a quiet and local feel versus the countless cruise ship owned jewelry and tourist shops that lined the streets.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Ketchikan

It’s a recommended spot being a short walk from the cruise ship docks.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Ketchikan

Further up the Inside Passage and the next day we were in the capital city of Juneau. The first place (shop) we went into off the cruise ship was Heritage Coffee Roasting Company.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Juneau, Heritage Coffee

We were at their downtown location, as they have six locations in and around Juneau. It was a mix of locals and their laptops and tourists charging their phones. All were enjoying freshly roasted coffee from Heritage’s vintage roaster.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Juneau, Heritage Coffee

I enjoyed checking out their logo everywhere and chatting with the friendly baristas.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Juneau, Heritage Coffee

Went more specialty coffee here getting the recommended Almond Joy Latte. I normally would go for a coffee mug, but the paper cup was distinctive with the logo on it. Note: Get the paper cup, it also makes for a great souvenir.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Juneau, Heritage Coffee

At the top of the Inside Passage and another day later we were in the gold rush town of Skagway. We checked out a couple of coffee hot spots, the first being Glacial Smoothies and Espresso in the heart of town, but off to the side from the tourist shops.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

A warm inside atmosphere awaited us as well as…

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

…locally brewed coffee. They serve the aforementioned Raven’s Brew Coffee. Raven’s Brew was originally based in Ketchikan, Alaska.

I went with their Deadman’s Reach coffee. The dark roast hit the spot while watching fellow cruise ship patrons and locals come and go. You’ll find a large offering of smoothies naturally as well as sandwiches, muffins, bagels and more. Note: If you’re looking for wi-fi, the only place to reliability find it in this town is the library.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

While walking along the cruise ship docks in Skagway heading towards the ship, we stopped in at The Caboose On the Dock for another caffeine pick me up.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

Within the small, train car shaped building I ordered their White Pass Gold coffee. More Alaskan brew, more caffeine, more deliciousness.

Alaska, Inside Passage, coffee, Skagway

Checking out the coffee shop and local brew scene within the Inside Passage of Alaska was fun, delicious and helped to keep the motor running in order to enjoy everything Alaska has to offer.

Alaska: Rafting the Taiya River.

During our stop in Skagway, Alaska on an Alaskan Cruise, we went on a rafting excursion through Skagway Float Tours. They picked us up in a van at the cruise ship dock…

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

…and we went on a forty-five minute ride along Nahku Bay and the Dyea Valley, a lot of the time on a narrow dirt road. We went through what was once the Klondike Gold Rush town of Dyea.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Along the way there was one eagle sighting after another.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

We crossed over the Taiya River, our rafting destination.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Once along the shoreline we put on waterproof boots and life preservers and we’re told the proper procedures to get in and out of the raft, as to not fall into the icy cold glacier water.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

It was then time to get out on the open Taiya River. Our tour guide did the paddling as we mingled with him and the six others sharing this adventure. He shared lots of tidbits about Alaska and the area, seeing greenery, the open river, snow-capped mountains, glaciers and more along the way. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 🙂

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

About an hour later and a few miles downstream we reached the end point. We took a few minutes to stare at all the Alaskan beauty around us, while enjoying the snacks and Alaskan salmon they provided us.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

The park bench and…

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

…raft were hanging out and soaking in the Alaskan beauty too!

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

It was time to head back out onto the open dirt Dyea Road and to Skagway.

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Skagway, Alaska, rafting, Taiya River, Inside Passage

Along the route was when I realized how far north we really were. It was only a short drive to the Yukon and Canada. On the way there we stopped for scenic and panoramic views of Skagway and the surrounding area. More on that in a future post. 🙂

It was a fun, memorable time hanging out on the Taiya River. Our tour guide was nice, giving us ideas on things to do back in Skagway. I would recommend checking out Skagway Float Tours and their Scenic River Float trip when looking for an excursion in the area.

What memorable excursions have you done when on a cruise? Any Alaskan adventures?

Photo(s) of the Week: All Signs Point to the Yukon.

While in Skagway, Alaska you’ll notice lots of signage that includes Whitehorse. Whitehorse is the capital and largest town in the Yukon in Canada. It’s a relatively short drive north. Twenty miles to customs!

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

Alaska highway signage

In fact you’ll see travel signage pointing you to several Yukon destinations.

Yukon travel signage in Skagway, Alaska

A Canadian road trip to the far north anyone?

Alaska: A Visit to Mendenhall Glacier.

A short drive north from downtown Juneau within the Mendenhall Valley is the glacier of the same name. People from all over the world, a lot of times via an excursion off of a cruise ship, head to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to checkout the glacier along with the mountains, wildlife, greenery and more.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

My fiance and I visited via an excursion in the early evening and immediately walked towards one of the vista points.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

The Mendenhall Glacier is currently twelve miles long carving it’s way through the Mendenhall Valley ending where you are viewing it from in the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is part of the largest forest in the United States, the Tongass National Forest.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

We were lucky enough to be there in during an unusually warm and sunny day. That led to some glacier reflection shots off Mendenhall Lake and time up close…

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

…with it’s cold glacier water.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

As you can see on the map above you’ll find plenty of walking trails to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness and different vantage points. It was a combination of tourists and locals walking their dogs and running.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Due to the warmer temperatures on average the Mendenhall Glacier has been receding faster from the front than it’s forming in the back. They say it might not be that many years before it will be hidden from view from the Visitor Center.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Off to the right of the glacier when viewing from the vista points is Nugget Falls, whose water falls into the lake, originating from the Nugget Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

All around the lake your bound to see mini floating icebergs broken off from the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Walk less than a mile on the Nugget Falls Trail from the Visitor Center to see the falls up close.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

Be on the lookout for bears when in the park. No food is allowed within.

Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, Juneau, Alaska, Nugget Falls trail

It was a beautiful evening and time at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

We got to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center by signing up for a tour/excursion through ShoreTrips and it was run locally by Orca Eco Tours. Our host and tour guide were very informative giving us lots of information about both the glacier and Juneau. Checkout other Juneau excursion options from ShoreTrips.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

Some additional tidbits:

  • Checkout the history of the glacier in the Visitor Center. There is a $3 fee to enter. It sits up-top a small cliff.
  • It’s free to walk the trails, use the restrooms and visit the souvenir shop.
  • There are other trails going away from the waterfall and glacier where you’ll probably spot a bear and see lots of salmon swimming in the water.
  • The park is opened year around but just on the weekend with shorter hours during the winter and colder months.
  • Leave at least a few hours to explore all the trails and stare at all the scenery.

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, alaskan cruise

What glaciers have you visited in your travels?

Photo of the Week: The Alaskan Capital Skyline.

The Juneau, Alaska port of call provided this skyline view of the capital city. Notice behind Juneau how quickly the greenery and mountains go straight up!

Juneau, Alaska skyline, Alaskan cruise