Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The North Douglas Road

AdventureMan spotted this along the North Douglas Road as we explored all the routes that do not lead out of Juneau. Juneau can only be accessed by air or sea; there are no roads in or out of Juneau that connect to anywhere else. There is talk of “A ROAD” and people will ask you whether you are for it or against it. What do you think?

It is possible that Juneau has maintained much of its character and values by being somewhat isolated. On the other hand, perhaps this isolation has restrained Juneau from achieving its full potential.

Once the tourist season is over, there are to big things. Skiing and the Crimson Bear basketball games. Who would think that high school basketball would be so engrossing, but in a small town, the Crimson Bears are king.

We loved this gateway, made of old skis:

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August 24, 2013 Posted by | Alaska, Public Art, Travel, Values | 2 Comments

Here be Bears!

While our first day had been exciting, it was also full of drenching cold rains and while AdventureMan NEVER complained, I could see he was . . . hmmmm . . . . supportive but underwhelmed. Fortunately, our next day dawned with high clouds and not a drop of rain in sight. We went immediately to the Mendenhall Glacier, something everyone sees when they are in Juneau, and, thanks be to God, it was not fogged in nor covered with rain clouds, but there, in all it’s icy blue glory:

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There were iceburgs floating away, looking cool and serene:

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The glacier is always awe inspiring, but there is also something else. The municipality knows that all these tour boats coming in need things to do and see, so in addition to the glacier, they have built a state-of-the-art walkway along a stream flowing from the glacier, a stream full of salmon. And when there are salmon spawning – as they are in August – and bear who are trying to store up fat for the winter, there is a wonderful confluence of needs. The salmon need to spawn, the bear need to eat and the tourists need to see something exciting. Bear chasing and eating salmon fits the bill.

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This was a very very good day 🙂

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Beauty, Birds, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | 3 Comments

No Internet??? No Wi-Fi??? No Phone Service???

No, I have not abandoned you.

When my son asked about communicating with us from Alaska, I confidently assured him “oh, Alaska will be like Africa! Land lines are so expensive to install, there will be cell towers everywhere, and besides, my iPhone is covered everywhere! I can use the internet.”

Oh Pride, Intlxpatr, Pride. You speak whereof you do not know!

Our time in Juneau was a lot of fun. From the moment we arrived, it was just so smooth. The airport is small, like Africa. You can be in and out of the airport in minutes. We picked up our car; it was so easy, the reservation was waiting, and the car is out in the small lot. It is a car a lot like our own and we really like it. Not five minutes later, we are in our room at a nearby hotel, and it is a nice room, and of course it has Wi-Fi, that’s how I sent the earlier entries.

I called an old friend of my Mother’s, a friend I remember well from my childhood, she and my mother would laugh a lot together, and our families travelled together, out on a big old Coast Guard cutter fishing in Alaska, or out to islands where we would pick berries, or out, just out, because it was a beautiful weekend and when the weather is good, Alaskans go outside.

We planned to meet up for coffee, and when we did, she was just like the old days, only older. I laughed and told her I am now older than when I knew her before. She laughed at AdventureMan’s jokes, and she had a beautiful living place near where my family used to live, with a view to die for. It reminded me of Kuwait. I could lose hours looking out her window, if I lived there. Eagles flying by, cruise ships coming in and out, the weather changing on the mountain across the way – it was a magnificent location, and it was all made even better by good coffee, good conversation and a great deal of love based on old relationships.

But we needed to go! We had things we needed to see!

This is the view from our friend’s house in West Juneau:

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My old school:

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Alaskan Indian art, painted over a garage door:

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The beach we used to go to, called Sandy Beach. Occasionally a dead walrus would wash up there, causing no end of excitement to us young people.

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AdventureMan found a piece of the sea glass I love:

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I thought this school above was a lot bigger than this . . . . I remember it being a lot bigger . . . LOL!

This is our old house, many many years ago. It used to have a much bigger front yard, before they widened the road. It also seemed farther from the little grocery store near the bridge that my Mom would send me to, but it’s gotten shorter!

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This is the Baranof Hotel, where my parents met. It used to be a very grand hotel, but it is now a Westmark hotel, and while it pretends to still be grand, it is shopworn and tired, and needs a major overhaul to be back in the game. We ate lunch there – to honor my parents meeting – and it was also a very mediocre meal. The very chipper waitress, Holly, tried to make it nice, but the Capitol restaurant needs better lighting and brighter colors. It was very, very dark.

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Some public art. Later as we passed the same location we heard guys call out “The police are coming!” and saw them approach three men who looked like maybe they were drinking or drugging.

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AdventureMan is so patient with me. When I spotted a quilt shop, he said he was going down the street and to call him when I was finished. 🙂

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The best part of the day was picking up our friend for dinner, and hearing her stories. We loved hearing about Juneau in the old days, and hearing her laugh.

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Alaska, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Travel | 4 Comments