Monthly Archives: December 2007

28 hours in Juneau. (part two: Juneau airport and glacier)

We arrived in Juneau after a long flight on the milk run, stopping in Wrangell and Petersburg on the way to deliver supplies and mail to these smaller outposts. The flights lasted 15-20 minutes each, but the wait at each airport was much longer. I asked if I could get off and take some photos on the tarmac (it was beautiful) and they told me “sure. If you want to be arrested.” So I have some nice pictures of the airplane wing.

Our plan for Juneau was Mendenhall Glacier, Alaskan Brewing Co., hotel, no plan. Since we were making it up as we went, we went and got a cab. While others waited for the cab, Jay and I went to look at maps and see what was up with the Alaskan Brewery, and if we could tour it. Overhearing our mention of tours, the dude maintaining the airport phones hastily bit down on his allen wrench and commented ominously, “There are no tours here.” He sounded oddly like a Scooby Doo villain. Clarifying that we just wanted to checkout the brewery, not to catch a helicopter, he helped us out with directions. Actually, he helped us out a lot, helping us to avoid construction and to find landmarks and better routes as he gnawed on his allen wrench, occasionally waving it it around..

Daylight burning, we eventually got our rental car and headed out in search of food. Lowballing, we’d gotten directions from the lady at the rental agency, which paled in comparison to those received from allen wrench-guy. We ended up eating a sandwich as the enormous Fred Meyer outside of Juneau, which actually was pretty satisfying. Then we went to the Mendenhall Glacier.

The Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most awe-inspiring sites I’ve ever seen. An immense ice flow running down the mountain, feeding Lake Mendenhall, skirted by a waterfall and frozen features, it glowed the most amazing blue.

We hiked out by the lake and got fairly close to the glacier, clowning around and having fun. In the lake there were a number of icebergs, which were pieces of the glacier that had calved fairly recently. There were not many others out there, and nearly everyone was local. At the visitor center, we watched a movie about the glacier and how it is satisfying to the eyes (interesting but odd movie), and talked to the rangers, who seemed very happy to have human contact during the off-season.

We started hiking out around 3pm, as it was beginning to be dusk.

28 hours in Juneau. (part one: Ketchikan)

“Hey dude, what’re you doing next weekend?” Jay asked me.
“Uh, just getting ready to move. Why?”
“We were wondering if y’all wanted to go to Alaska or Denver.”
“Totally. Which one?”
“We’re taking a vote.”
“Alaska”

No doubt. So we got hooked-up with buddy passes to Alaska. Standby flights, no carry-ons. A lot of airport time. Portland to Seattle to Ketchikan, overnight in Ketchikan, to Wrangell to Petersburg to Juneau. Twenty-eight hours in Juneau, twenty-eight to get there. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything, we had a blast.

Ketchikan

Our small band of travelers waited happily in the small airport bar waiting for the next flight north to come in. A few pitchers of beer and a lot of laughs later, it arrived. Despite having ample open seats, we were not permitted to board the flight to Juneau. Inclement weather had forced the plane to take on extra fuel and they were concerned about weight and balance. So we were left to our devices in Ketchikan.

Ketchikan is Alaska’s fourth-largest city (behind Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau). When you arrive in Ketchikan, you’re on the wrong side of a body of water, crossable by ferry (3 bucks each way, 5 same-day round trip). If you arrive at night as we did, I’d recommend not missing it. Just a tip. We weren’t expecting to stay in Ketchikan, but we were ready for anything, so we got on the horn with an inexpensive hotel (the Narrows Inn a bit outside of downtown. And they were great. They shuttled us to the hotel from the ferry, and they shuttled us to downtown. They kept the restaurant and bar open late for us (we wanted to go downtown, so asked that they close it).

Downtown Ketchikan is pretty nice. We settled on Annabelle’s for dinner and decompression. The food was pretty good, but what was most striking was how they server the (halibut) fish and chips. Instead of vinegar, Scott (out gold bow-tie clad waiter) brought a bowl of Frank’s. And it was amazing…tangy and spicy.

Researching local bars, as I’ve been known to do, I’d received raving recommendations for The Sourdough. Conveniently, it’s located right across the street from Annabelle’s (Causation of correlation?). The Sourdough appeared dead. Friday night. Not a car in front or in the lot. With the liquor store ‘facade’ being closed, the place hardly looked open. Road-weary, we persevered, and walked the short hall to the bar. Turning into the place, its popularity had already been broadcast audibly. The Sourdough was packed. A friendly drunk fella leaning against the wall high-fived each of us as we squeezed our way in. I found my way to the bar and picked up a round for my exhausted friends…commendably, the bartender found me almost immediately, and provided very quickly. Libations in hand, we worked our way to the main room and found a place to huddle near the ancient Golden Tee machine. Lively does not begin to describe The Sourdough. This place buzzed and boomed. It was loud, with reunions and laughter, arguments (nearly going to fights), games, it was a different scene then our more sedate Portland bars provide.

We were ready after one drink, and caught a taxi-van back to our hotel. It appears that the entire city travels by cab, as there were very few cars on the road other than service vehicles. And there were several taxis parked on the curb waiting for us. The next morning we woke up early to catch the ferry back to the airport, and got our names back on the standby list. The weather had subsided, so we were allowed onto the plane.

The Big Freeze

Me and some fellas hit up some cold-weather camping the other weekend up near Bagby. It wasn’t quite as cold as we’d hoped, but we had a massive fire anyway!

On the way up, we saw a bald eagle.

We drank some beer, with predictable outcomes.

Augie got really sick and wanted to stay in my tent. I ended up taking the poor guy to Dove Lewis. He seems to be okay now.

We did some nature stuff too. Jeff found some weird mushroom thing.