To ensure the true "Alaska Experience" we spent a ton of time hiking while my dad and stepmom were in town. We ventured to a few tourist-oriented places but for the most part we took them off the beaten path for the real, authentic experience. We started out their first day in town by heading to Mendenhall Glacier. This is typically a tourist-type area during the summer but we managed to get a day with very few cruise ships in town. That coupled with the cloudy weather (it looked like it may rain any second but it never actually did) made for the perfect day to venture to this popular locale.
My parents were in awe of the amazing sights at the glacier. It is truly one of those places that you have to see in person to understand its scale and magnitude. I've always felt that being near the glacier made me feel somehow smaller, but more aware of the nature around me. Cody, myself, and my parents definitely walked away feeling amazing.
We took a few detours to see the glacier from different angles throughout the week. Each was breathtaking!
We even hiked to the infamous Mendenhall Ice Caves. Sadly, we couldn't find them. It was a 7-mile hike though and we got to see plenty of amazing sights that made the trip worth it.
One day we did some hiking at the end of the road. This is generally a VERY unused area because it takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to reach and the locals are the only people willing to make the drive. It is so worth it though!
We watched the salmon run start and it was amazing. Hundred (maybe thousands) of fish were flopping through the water! We also had a bear encounter while on this hike. While tromping through the woods we ran into one and scared it away. But, less than five minutes later we realized it was hiding in the bushes and watching us! Eek! We were scared but made lots of noise and made sure to NOT look like food (ha ha).
Other hiking excursions for the week were equally as beautiful. I would venture to say that we walked/hike close to 20miles in the week that they were in town. My legs got quite the workout! The views made it totally worth it for all of us though.
Eventually, the trip had to come to an end. I was incredibly sad to see my family leave Juneau. They had an amazing trip though and by the time they left they were already planning next years trip! I hope that they inspire other friends and family to make the trek up to Alaska. It is a once in a lifetime experience. Not to mention, Cody and I are fantastic tour guides :)