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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

DOWNTOWN JUNEAU AND THEN SOME

After our helicopter ride, we walked around Juneau, Alaska’s capital since 1900. The city, now the third largest in Alaska, began as a gold mine town, and growth really began around 1882. Summer in Juneau translates to 16-18 hours of sunlight!!! That is so cool!
Juneau

We had the bus driver let us off outside the Paradise Bakery & Cafe, so we could have a cup of coffee and think about our glacial experience. Lo and behold, the d├ęcor is to Rob’s liking—Patsy Cline!!!
cafe
Juneau cafe

Juneau has a frontier town atmosphere, and we wanted to wander. We did get to see several passersby we knew weren’t there as cruise tourists!
Alaskan resident

Outside City Hall there is a mural depicting a Haida view of creation. The Haida are part of the Tlingit nation, the indigenous people.
Creation mural

Juneau has many museums, and in one we visited, there were newspaper clippings from WWII. One was of our declaration of war with Japan, and the others were of entertainers up there to perform for the troops—including Al Jolson, and in Juneau, as everywhere else in Alaska, we got to chuckle at some more Alaskan humor and fun. If Juneau seems far away now, imagine how it was in 1941. Yet these entertainers came up here for the military. Very heartening.
newspaper clipping
newspaper clipping

Folks in Juneau get around in floatplanes, and down by the docks they are parked as we park our cars.
Alaskan floatplanes

Inevitably, Rob and I found our way to the Red Dog Saloon with some friends, Bunny and Tom. Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere! In the territorial days, Gordie Kanouse would meet tour boats with his mule and wore a sign saying, “follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon.”
Red Dog Saloon
Red Dog SaloonWant to eat? Order “The Avalanche, a one-third pound beef patty served with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, cheese, bacon and topped with our famous BBQ sauce. Served on a Kaiser bun.” (no, I didn’t) But the highlight was the honky tonk piano player. He was really good, really into ragtime, and really a big talker and joker. NOTICE HIS TIP JARS
humor
Alaskan life

piano player
And the day didn’t end there. We wanted to get back to the ship to hear a presentation by Libby Riddles, the first woman, in 1985 to win the Iditarod, the famous dog sled endurance race from Anchorage to Nome. A musher since 1976, she tells a fascinating story, but two factoids will stay with me always: sled dogs are mixed breeds, not pure husky, and these dogs have two layers of fur to protect them. Makes me wonder about my insane desire to spend a winter month in Anchorage just to see what it's life. If you visit Libby's website at www.libbyriddles.com, you get an inkling of the strength of this woman. You might even buy a t-shirt emblazoned with this saying, “Alaska—where men are men and women win the Iditarod.” Ha! Ha!
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