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Alaskan Dall Sheep

Alaskan Dall Sheep

Better Animal Encounters at the Alaska Raptor Center

Great Grey Owl

Great Grey Owl

It is entirely possible that we’re just suckers for clever branding. After all, we can’t say for certain whether there’s any real difference between the places we visit that bill themselves as “animal hospitals” or “rescue centers” and ordinary zoos. But that difference in stated mission – for rescuing animals on the one hand, and mostly just displaying them on the other – has come to matter to us.

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Alaskan Cruising without the Cruise Ship

Alaska Marine Highway

An Alaska Marine Highway ferry

No roads lead to Juneau.

Flanked by mountains peaks and the Gastineau Channel, Alaska’s capital is one of numerous cities and towns in the state that can be reached only by air or water. We flew in from Anchorage and departed by boat, the first leg of our trip along a portion of the Inside Passage, a waterway extending from Alaska to Puget Sound.

Our ride wasn’t one of the fancy, massive cruise ships docked in downtown Juneau’s harbor. Instead we made like locals and hopped aboard a more modest mode of transport to cruise the remote waters. A public ferry system operates along what is known as the Alaska Marine Highway, the only marine route in the U.S. to be dubbed a “National Scenic Byway” and “All American Road.”

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Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska

Seward may have a “drive up glacier,” but I’m wagering Juneau is one of the few places on earth with a glacier served by public transportation. And that was great news for us, having just returned our rental car in Anchorage.

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Kayaking Blackstone Bay: Glaciers and Waterfalls

Blackstone Bay Glacier Kayak

There were two big things we wanted to do while in Alaska. The first was a glacier trek. Check. The second was to do some glacier kayaking. For that, we made our way down to Whittier, Alaska, where we hooked up with the Prince William Sound Kayak Center for gear, guide, and transportation.

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