Journey to Juneau

by - Saturday, July 15, 2017

Happy July, even though it's half over :)

Earlier this month, I took my first trip to Alaska, "the Frontier state". It was an interesting experience, and just about everything I thought it'd be.

First of all, it was COLD and rainy (surprise), yes even in the summer. I had seen photos of others that had gone during this time in previous years, and it was clear, sunny and beautiful. I got one "clear, sunny and beautiful" day during my five day stay. Such is the northwest.

Cloudy and chilly Juneau

276 days of clouds per year

Overall the trip was pleasant, and expensive. My word, Juneau hurt my feelings with their exorbitant prices!

Full disclosure: I am not usually the outdoorsy type; this is due largely to having asthma and not being able to swim (more on this later).

Much of the available activities in Juneau are outside. I visited the beautiful Mount Roberts via tram and their hiking trails are supposed to be grand. There are also opportunities to visit the glaciers in the area. Mendenhall is the most popular and the closest, but I passed on it due to the cruise line crowds that they're known to bring in.

I went up and down Mount Roberts by tram.
Views of the port below.

Stunning views from Mt. Roberts

One of my favorite photos from the trip

I did go out to the Tracy Arm Fjord, which is two hours south, much more stunning and much more expensive, but I didn't dare put a price on this memory. It was totally worth it.

Iceberg slim ;)

Glaciers baby!
Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm fjord, quite the sight!

Stunning views along the way

Stunning waterfall; if you look to the bottom right, you'll see the humpback whale we spotted.
Video of the whale sighting on my Instagram.

Other than exploring the great outdoors and eating all the seafood you can take, there isn't much else to Juneau. Despite being the capital, it's a sleepy town of just a little over 30,000 full time residents. Juneau also sees an increase of anywhere between 6-10,000 visitors a day as a major cruise ship docking port. So much of their industry is rooted in tourism, but I was still surprised at how little there was to do.

One activity that is not to be missed is a visit to their Alaska State Museum. It has been completely renovated and updated with additional artifacts from years' past. At the time of my visit, they were running a "Decolonizing Alaska" exhibit, and it was stunning. This was the perfect rainy day activity.

Dope exhibit

Indigenous art

Some of the symbolism was so amazing.

The recounting of the erasure of the indigenous population was infuriating.

Tlingit Peoples from the 19th century

Colonialism, pfft.

Decades later, alcoholism remains a major problem in native communities.

All in all, Juneau is worth a visit. I don't think one would need to do more than a couple days here. I can't reiterate how expensive it is, though: a ride from my Airbnb in North Douglas to downtown Juneau- just 10 minutes by car- cost me $16 each way, and that's either via cab or Uber/Lyft. In contrast, a rental car would have cost over $100 per day. Sheesh! In retrospect, I would have coughed up the extra coin to base in one of the downtown hotels but experience is the best teacher.

Food was also very expensive here, although that was to be expected since they import a lot of things. Most people that visit Alaska do so by cruise. Alaskan cruises cost a pretty penny but the amount of time spent in port is just enough to do the major sites, in my opinion.

If you're visiting during the summer months, bring a sleeping mask! The sun rises at 3am and sets at 11pm. Alaska gets 19 hours of daylight in the summer.

Despite being among the most expensive, it was still a memorable trip. This is the first time I've done a cold climate in the summer. I'd still like to visit Anchorage some day. I will count my coins!

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