"" Writer's Wanderings: Port of Call - Juneau, Alaska

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Port of Call - Juneau, Alaska

Juneau was probably the Alaskan port that had changed more than any other from what I remembered in previous trips. The port was teeming with people from five cruise ships. It was reminiscent of the Caribbean in the prevalent commercialism. Booths lined the walkway from the ships with every tour opportunity imaginable and then as we meandered into the main part of town, we weaved our way through crowded sidewalks to find jewelry store after jewelry store each touting the best deals.

Originally we had planned to take the Mt. Roberts tram up to the top and have a look around. There are several trails up there and some views of surrounding mountains as well as downtown Juneau. When we saw the packed cabins as they ascended and descended over our heads and then measured the cost ($31/adult) against how much interest we really had in it, we opted to go on in search of a good cup of coffee.

Juneau, being the capital of Alaska, was almost certain to have a McDonald's we thought. We like McDonald's coffee and it would be a pleasant change from the awful coffee our ship served. We trudged on past the jewelry stores and stood a moment to look at the information on the billboards outside the Red Dog Saloon. The line was outside the door to get in. The saloon dates back to the old mining days and now offers lunch and dinner along with some great entertainment. It certainly looked like a popular place.

Sandwiched between a couple of jewelry stores, we found a popcorn store that was pumping wonderful smells out of its door. They also claimed to have good coffee. Everything lived up to the claims. We had found heaven. Caramel corn and wonderful drip coffee. We sat and munched through a whole bag of caramel corn and drank two cups of coffee.

Feeling satisfied with our outing, we started back through the crowded streets toward the ship. Stopping once again to watch the sardine-packed tram raise and lower its passengers. The weather had been beautiful all day. The air fresh. The breeze sweet. Not at all a bad day anyway you looked at it.

If you visit Juneau and don't want to put up with the crowds, there are plenty of opportunities to get out of town. Mendenhall Glacier is a great place to visit although with so many cruise ships in, you may find it a bit crowded as well. Still it is a sight to see. There are whale watching opportunities, a salmon hatchery that is very interesting, and a chance to learn more about dog sledding. And if you are truly adventuresome and don't mind helicopters this was the port from which Bob and his mother flew to land on a glacier.

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