Posts Tagged ‘Juneau’

Haines and “The Glacier Priest” 6/25-26/2009

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

The weather on the ferry from Juneau to Haines and our first day in Haines was damp and somewhat rainy. The view on entering Haines was spectacular. It seems the scenery keeps getting better and better. We don’t have many pictures yet due to weather and us forgetting the camera at various times.

When we got on the ferry, we took a tour of all the decks since we hadn’t been on this particular ferry before. We noticed a sign near purser’s office saying that satellite Internet wasn’t available as of 1/1/2009 since they were changing vendors. When we passed a room set up with cubicles for laptops with electric plugs, we noticed a woman sitting in one and went to ask here if she had Internet access. Then, we noticed she had a sowing machine and was making quilted squares. We started a conversation. About 15 minutes later, Fred mentioned that his uncle was a priest in Alaska and had a street ministry in Juneau. “There is no street ministry in Juneau, What was his name?”, When Fred told her his name, she exclaimed, “You have to be kidding, you are Fr. Ron Dunfey’s nephew!”. She went on the tell us that she was a good friend of Ron’s and that everyone on the Yukon knew Ron.

She went on to relate a number of stories of expereinces she had with Fr. Ron. She told us of common friends they had in Ruby. It seems she also stayed with the same friends on Douglas Island as Ron did when they were both in Juneau. She lived on Kodiak Island. She told us she understood why Ron would use the term street ministry to describe what he did.

We talked about land that Fr Ron had bought and where it might be. Fred mentioned to her that he was thinking of going to Ruby (a remote villiage on the Yukon). She told us that there were no places to stay there and we would have to stay in a tent. She told us of Ron’s friend Edna who resides in Ruby.

This woman is Kristine Harder and she designs and sells pewter. Her Website is

We exchanged email address. Kristine has plenty of photo’s on Ron which she plans to share with us.

She gave us the name of another man who knew Ron and lives in Haines, John Svenson. John Swenson has a design studio called “Extreme Dreams Gallery”.

kristine was not aware of Fr. Ron’s death 12 years ago. She also did not know that Fr. Ron was interviewed by Charles Karault on nationwide news on Mount McKinley (Denaili). I told her I had the video of that interview, parts of which were replayed on Saturday TV mornings under the title “Serenity”.

We got to Haines on the Ferry at 9:30 PM. We decided to go to Chilkat State Park about 8 miles south of town on the Chilkat Inlet.

When we got up in the morning, we located the Extreme Dreams Gallery advertisement in the Haines Vistor Guide. It turns our his studio is located at the entrance to the State Park in which we were staying.

When we showed up and introduced ourselves to John Svenson. He was shocked. He hadn’t met anyone in years who knew of Fr Ron and that past gone era.

He told us that Fr. Ron was known as “The Glacier Priest!”

It seems he was a legend. Mountain Hikers and climbing expeditions sought him out to bless them before their hikes.
All the mountain hikers knew him. He was a fixture in Telketna and other spots around Denali where hikers gathered. He often bought rounds of beer. It seems that Ron liked the company of these mountain climbers and they enjoyed his company. John told us that it was so odd for a Priest to be in such places. The subjects of religion and philosophy were often discussed with Fr. Ron always telling them what he really thought.

After meeting John, Milly just said to Fred, “Maybe Uncle Ron’s spirit is guiding us on this trip.”
According to John, we are camped in the best campground in  Haines. It  just happened to be  right next to Jim Seversons studio and we didn’t know it until we went to find him!

It seems that our Uncle Ron was the character that we knew. He was true to himself and the stories he told did reflect what he did. He was a faithful Christian servant of God. Some people loved him and some despised him.  He didn’t like authorities especially religious ones. It appears he made his mark in Alaska. He truly was an eccentric Alaskans eccentric.

We almost blew up or got asphyxiated

To reach our Chilkat State park and campground, we had to travel on a rough gravel road, down a steep winding grade. The road was a washboard. Unknown to us, our coleman grill was put away in rear storage compartment under our bed with the propane canister still attached.

When we set up, everything seemed okay. Our electric hitch was working off the trailer battery. We noticed a slight smell but assumed it was from residue grey water that had overflowed into the bathroom tub the prior day – Fred forgot to pull the grey water lever to have it empty into sewer drain and the grey water tank filled up. Then, we noticed that the lights didn’t turn on inside the trailer.

Fred checked for a blown fuse inside the trailer.All fuses looked okay. He went to the outside storage compartment to check the battery fuse. When he opened the door, you could hear noises like something was running. Fred realized the noise was propone gas coming from the grill. He pulled the grill out and turned off the gas. The grill had been jostled coming down to the campground and the gas was turned on.

After we oppned the windows for a while, the lights went on and we noticed the carbon monoxide/Propane alarm was blinking. The alarm must have shut the electricity off.

Close calls and learning experiences. We are still having them. Lesson: Don’t do stupid things!

 On inside passage,  if you want fresh vegetables, know when the barge comes in. In Haines,  the “Food barge from Seattle arrives each Tuesday”.

Here are pictures taken in our campground in Haines when the weather wasn’t very good.


Spruce Meadows RV Park, Juneau 6/25/2009

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

The Mother and Daughter who run the campground are real Alaskans. If you need anything, they will help.

Their campground facilities are exceptionally clean and well cared for. The campsites are well spaced out and many are nestled in the woods. Tent campers may find a canopy over their tents or other shelters made available to them during the rain.

Coffee is available in Laudry/TV area. In the morning, first camper up hits the coffee start button. In the office, there is a DVD library where campers can borrow movies.

Whatever you need to know, ask and they will get the answers for you.

Their rates are reasonable (Full hookups $32 – we paid $30 since they will give you $2 off if you donate to food panty)

The owners are happy, cheerful people who actually care about their customers.

Our last day in Juneau was a little on the chilly side, so we cancelled our planned kayak paddle among the icebergs at Mendenhall Lake. We dropped Kim off for her return to San Francisco via Seattle where she will be visiting a few friends. He left on 4:40 PM Ferry to Haines. Fred had to back into his spot on car deck once again. At Haines, he will be able to pull forward around whole car deck before exiting the ferry.

Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier & Tram 6/24/2009

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

On our last full day in Juneau, it was a sunny day! We decided to revisit the Mendenhall Glacier to hike the East Glacier Trail. We were rewarded. The 3.5 mile loop trail took us up about 500 feet above the Glacier where there was a scenic outlook

After lunch, we took the Tram from the Juneau docks area up to Mt. Roberts. This gives you spectacular views of Juneau and Douglas Island.

We all went out for a farewell dinner at the Canton House, a recommnded restaurant. Tomorrow afternnon, Kim flies back to San Francisco while Milly and Fred take a Ferry to Haines.

Juneau – Fr. Ron & Museums 6/23/2009

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Almost all day on the 23rd it rained. This meant we headed for museums and other attractions rather than hiking or kayaking.

We started downtown Juneau to Evergreen Cemetery to find the burial site of Fr. Ron Dunfey, Fred’s Uncle, who spent about 40 years of his life in Alaska. The man at the cemetery was very helpful in locating the grave for us.

We visited the Capital Building and took the elevator up the Governor Sarah Palin’s office. She wasn’t in.

Next stop for us was the State Museum. It was excellent but we have just about seen enough native culture stuff. We headed for the Last Chance Mine Museum.   This gave us a perspective on the start of the Alaska Gold mining in Juneau. The museum had a lot or artifacts and was located in one of the main mining sites that closed in 1940’s.

Tracey’s Arm Juneau 6/22/2009

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

We left for our trip to Tracey’s Arm and the Sawyer Glaciers at 7:30 am. We got back about 6 pm.

It was a fabulous trip!

We will let the pictures tell the story, (Seals, Icebergs, Glaciers, Fjords)

Juneau – Mendenhall Glacier 6/21/2009

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

After Sunday Mass, we went into Juneau to book a trip to Tracey’s Arm and then headed back to see Mendenhall Glacier.

Fred had visited this glacier in April of 1996. This time he noticed there were many more icebergs in the lake below the glacier. The time of year must make a difference.

We were tired after our overnight ferry trip so our visit to Mendenhall Glacier this day was short and sweet.  The park ranger showed where we could put our kayaks into Mendenhall Lake to float with the icebergs. We may try to do this if the weather gets better. It’s pretty rainy.