Thursday, October 25, 2012

A day in Juneau

They say any day it's not raining in Juneau, it's a beautiful day.  We happened to wake in the state capital on a very beautiful day.  Our campsite was still damp, but as we left the rainforest area, it was gorgeous!

We had only planned to spend two nights in Juneau, so there were lots to see and do in Juneau.  The first stop was the Mendenhall Glacier, located in the Tongass National Forest.

The glacier had been receding for years, breaking off with ice floes in the water.  It was the closets we had gotten to a glacier yet.  We headed up to the Visitor Center to learn the history of the glacier and the area.  It was quite busy as it was a Saturday.

They had a movie playing in their theater explaining the history of it's recession.  It was pretty amazing how much the past and present photos were different.  They also had a big chunk of glacier ice which had broken off recently in the far corner of the center.  Even away from it's parent, it still had a shimmer of blue to it.  Everyone is allowed to touch the cold dense ice.  I'm sure it would make a mean martini!

We had traveled far to get to Juneau, the capital of Alaska, so with the dogs in tow, we headed to the capital building next.

I had done my research on our destinations and I knew that the state capital building was not one to get excited about.  There was no large rotunda.  There were no long wings jutting out to the East or West.  It is similar to any other office building one would find in Paduka, KY or Lawrence, MA.

Juneau is pretty compact.  We left the Mendenhall Glacier and we were in downtown Juneau within minutes.  We followed the signs, found the capital and parked the car.  We were fortunate that the capital was building was open.  I went inside and took a few pictures.

Across the street was a small plaza where there was a statue of a bear going after salmon.  A few pictures of the dogs and the statue and we continued our walk.

To the left of the capital building was a large totem pole.  It would be the first of many that we would see in Juneau.  The city is rich in it's aboriginal history.  They also support their fishing industry as seen by the Fisherman's building in blue.

We continued to walk around the area of the capital, following signs to the Governor's Mansion.  Along the route, we began to realize how vertical the town really is.  There were steep staircases heading to the street below and to the street above.  Steep!  We arrived at the mansion, trying to forget that Sarah Palin once slept here.  Another Totem Pole and a welcoming "Welcome to Alaska" plaque.

We turned around and headed back towards the car.  As we passed the capital building again, we saw a replica of the Liberty Bell to the right of the main entry of the capital building.  Tom had noticed it first and we discovered that these replicas were at every capital building in the US.  We tried to take a picture of the bell with the dogs, but the shadows and their moods prevented it form happening.  (at least in any good form)

Tom had wanted to see another Russian Orthodox Church, which we saw up the street with it's crooked cross on it's roof.  We stopped first to play some ball with the dogs at a local park.  They love their balls and they love their grass.  A twofer!

Dog play done and walk complete, it was time to explore the city on our own.  We put the dogs in the car, drove to a shaded area and parked again.  It was a truly gorgeous day in Juneau, warm and sunny.  Almost too sunny and warm for the dogs to stay in the car.  The shade will help.

We were very close to running out of coffee at the campsite and I wanted to check out the Heritage Coffee Company.  We picked up a pound of freshly ground coffee while Tom took pictures of everything he could, comparing this store to his Peet's at CalPoly.  I also grabbed a cup to go as we headed down the street towards another store I heard about while doing my research.

Silverbow Inn was a short walk away.  They are a bed and breakfast, cinema, art gallery and bagel store.  Very hip and freshly boiled and baked bagels along with a large menu board offering salads and sandwiches made this a great spot to get some nourishment.  Tom decided not to eat, but I had a great soup and salad combo which came with a bagel on the side.  We sat outside and enjoyed the morning sun and paper.  One quick shot of Tom in the plywood cutout chef made the morning complete.

We walked back to the car to check on the dogs.  We snuck up and saw the dogs still sleeping from their walk and ball play.  Perfect!  Time to go check out the downtown area we had passed through a few times while driving to our first destinations.

The cruise ships stop in Juneau on their way to and fro.  I have not seen many cruise ships in my life and I was surprised by the enormity of them.  I was also surprised of the long (did I say long?) long lines of people waiting to get back onto their ship.  It sort of squashed my romantic ideas of taking a cruise anytime soon.

Downtown Juneau has everything one may want for a souvenir.  Store after store selling Ulus and sweatshirts.  Spoons and caps.  Jewelry and dolls.  We did partake of some of the specials and picked up some gifts for the people at home.  We also picked up some smoked salmon for Tom.

Finally a Musk Ox!

After a few hours downtown, we headed back to the car and headed out of town towards the Alaskan Brewing Company for a tasting of their beers.  Along the way, we saw one of the roadside attractions which I wanted to see.  The Wizard of Oz characters on a former metal fabrication store.  They were all there...Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy, even Toto on a Yellow Brick Road.

We headed back towards town after sampling some beers.  It was a nice break from the hustle of downtown.  Along the way, we passed an area which was filled with birds and eagles.  They were all just hanging on the flats.  I wished I had a zoom on my camera as there were more than a dozen eagles waiting for something, I assume fish, amid the seagulls.

Our last stop for the day, prior to heading back to camp was the Hangar on the Wharf.  It was located on the waterfront and extremely busy.  We found a few seats at the bar and Tom got to have his fish and chips again.  It's not the best place for fresh fish, but it filled our holds!

Back to the campground and to our tent, along the way stopping at the coast one last time for some ball play with the pups.  Had to get them in the water and tired.  There would be another ferry ride out of Juneau first thing in the morning and, yes, another border crossing with a broken Indian Card!