Visiting Juneau, AK

The most important thing you can do when planning a trip to SE Alaska is planning around the weather. You don’t want it to be miserably raining sideways the entire time you are up there. I have gone twice in the late spring which was great timing, but summer is pretty fantastic also. I’m crossing my fingers for great weather this third time! Here’s a little info on the trips I have taken to Juneau that will hopefully inspire one of your own!

Alaska Folk Fest (beginning of April)

My first trip up was during the Alaska Folk fest, the flight set the stage with most everyone flying with a stringed instrument in tow

The festival is a community event, where anyone can get their 15 min of fame up on stage at Centennial Hall. While primarily is a music fest, I did take a fun clogging class. The festival pour out into every hotel and house with jam sessions of fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins and any other folksy instrument. People primarily come from all over Alaska & the Pacific Northwest. There’s a headlining band that the festival flies in, but what I think is truly special is the community participation.

 

Here’s a jam session that happened at the beach while I was there with Lindsay’s friends. This video perfectly captures that weekend.

Its just the best, every bar is filled with live and amazing folk music. I was so happy I brought my violin to play in the fun.

jamjam sesh

 

Herring Season=Whales! (end of April/beginning of May)

SE Alaska is on a lot of whale’s migratory path, I planned my next trip around when the herring fish were hatched and running. The whales, sea otters and eagles were all out and about to munch of all the schools of fish. It was the must amazing nature experience. Lindsay and I went out kayaking at Echo Cove while sea otters swam around us, eagles swooped down to catch lunch and humpback whales bubble fed in the distance.

The next day we hiked out to a dry forest service cabin at Camping Cove and a whale just hung out with us the entire time we were there. Swimming back and florth every couple minutes you could hear it blow while it circled the cove. The ladies we went with are from Juneau and had never had such an incredible whale experience, it was incredible to watch this guy feed for hours. I was amazingly lucky to have experienced that.

whale

Lindsay is a great photographer and you can check out all her incredible adventures in AK and around the rest of the world here.

Other Juneau things

The summer is apparently magical time to go on a charted boat tour, fishing trip or helicopter ride and I’ve heard al of these are just the best.

The Mendenhall Glacier is pretty awe inspiring and a big tourist attraction in town.

Flight details, if you are flying into Alaska, you will want to be on the right side of the plane on your way up and the left side on your way down. Its the prettiest plan ride to get to the the British Columbian coast, snow topped mountains and small Alaskan and Canadian islands dotting the ocean

I may have more to update after this trip, but I’ve been so lucky to have so many great trips up there and such a great local guide!

 

North, to Alaska!

Today, I am flying up to my favorite city in the world, Juneau, Alaska to embark on a Mountainous adventure.  After living in Juneau for 8 years, Lindsay is moving to Colorado and I’m helping her move by road tripping through the ALCAN Highway in the Canadian Rockies. I’m super excited. For the full effect, play this song while reading this.

Today’s post is dedicated to Juneau, Alaska and things I have learned about the funny town through Lindsay’s eye and my exaggeration. These are loose facts. Tomorrow’s will be my trip suggestions if you ever make it up to Juneau.

  • Juneau is really far south, go look at a map and compare how far Juneau is from Seattle and then from Anchorage. Anchorage is even not as far north as you would expect.
  • Juneau isn’t as cold as you would think. The past couple winters, they have had hardly enough snow to keep their entire ski hill (Eaglecrest) open.
  • Southeast Alaska has mandatory footwear. Or at least that would you would think if you went there. Everyone is wearing yellow & brown Xtratuf rubber boots. Seriously, people wear them on their wedding day, out hiking, to work. Everywhere. The last trip I went up, I bought some Xtratufs as a sort of practical souvenir and have been stopped in the lower 48 by real Alaskans asking me where I am from. These are my adventure staple now, rubber boots come in handy way more than I would have expected, they make you feel invincible and amazing.
xtratufsThis is what the entryway of a party in SE AK looks like. This is from my first trip. xtratuf adventureMy Xtratuf’s first adventure! xtratufMy boots were super helpful at a bachelorette party in Utah last summer even!
  • Bears are a real thing in Juneau, the last time I was up there, I was sleeping soundly, but Lindsay heard garbage cans being kicked around, got up to check it out and shortly after saw an older guy walking down the street (downtown Juneau) with a shotgun.
  • Speaking of bears, here’s my favorite news story Lindsay has shared with me. (A bear crashed into a kids birthday party (nobody was hurt)
  • It is gorgeous. The town is set right on the water surrounded by mountains. All the houses are set up on the hill and have a great view of the water as they are nestled in the mountains. Its just perfect. Also, I am the luckiest traveler and its sunshine, rainbows, Northern Lights and cresting whales when I go up there.
  • Northern Lights- they don’t come out in Juneau often. Its either cloudy or not far enough north to see them. Lindsay had lived in Juneau for almost 2 years and suffered through two winters of sideways rain and saw them the first time when I visited. It was really neat!
  • Juneau has a strange seasonal population. I’m sure you have all heard about Alaskan cruises, well, a third of the downtown is full of shops for cruise goers full of ‘Alaskan Fur’, ‘Alaskan Diamonds’ and other funny shops. Those exact same shops exist in every other town that the cruises stop in and are not open during the rest of the year. There’s a bunch of people that show up to work in the town during the cruise season.
  • Juneau is the capitol of Alaska and a lot of the jobs in the town depend on the fact that its the capitol. Legislators who largely live in Anchorage live in Juneau seasonally and rent prices in town swing to match with whatever living stipend the politicians are.
  • Juneau is politically very liberal town while the rest of AK is generally conservative. When Sarah Palin was governor, she didn’t live in the governors mansion in Juneau which was a political snub to Juneau. The locals were largely happy that she stayed in Anchorage.
  • The sense of community in Juneau is like none other. There’s no road out and you really depend on your neighbors, reusing goods and reallocating through second hand shops because there’s no real other option.
  • Alaskans call the rest of the US the ‘lower 48′. Hawaiians call it the ‘mainland’.
  • Here’s another classic SE Alaskan Folk song: Lady of the Chilkoot.

I think that’s all my anecdotes for today!