Guest Author - Dawn Engler
Juneau, Alaska is named for Joe Juneau. He and Dick Harris discovered gold in this area in 1880. After one year of being named Harrisburg, it was changed to Juneau when it was realized that it was not to be a fly by night town. Seems the lower 48 already had too many Harrisburg’s!
The capital of the State of Alaska can only be reached by air or water. There are roads within Juneau to get around, but they all just kind of come to an end. If you come in by cruise ship, there is a nice escort by the US Coast Guard! Very interesting to watch when a boat comes anywhere close to the ship. The guy in the front manning the machine gun made a few folks a little nervous. We live in a post 9-11 world even in tourist locations.
Juneau is a very rich city. Lots of money comes in May to September with the tourists. Monday is the crazy day with four cruise ships arriving in the day. It takes a lot of organization to move all those people through on their way to respective excursions and shopping. If you venture outside the first two blocks of shopping and are looking for a nice cup of coffee…try going to the Rookery Café at 111 Seward St. Grab a nice light sandwich there as well, if you’re hungry!
If you’re looking for a great excursion while in town, give a try to Gastineau Guiding. The Photo Safari by Land and Sea was great! Awesome tips on setting your camera to get the best shots possible. The tour guides you around the hot spots for whales and sea lions and then once back on land, takes a hike around Mendenhall Glacier for land photo ops. This is great information and a great all around tour of Juneau area.
From January to May legislators, lobbyists, and anyone who gives a hoot about what is going on in session, shows up keeping the town booming with business. In the off season of fall into early winter is when the locals get their town to themselves. They must thoroughly enjoy the parks and beaches when not stuffed full of tourists! There are many to enjoy. Hiking trails abound in the Mendenhall Glacier area where there are 11 or so trails with varying degrees of difficulty. If you have a full day available, there are a few climbs to mountain tops or ridges that are average seven or eight hours round trip. The views are incredible, just beware the bears!
Juneau would be a great place to vacation “stand alone”. Not necessarily only when stopping through on a cruise. Definitely enough to keep you busy for a week, but beware, many “locals” mention that they only came for vacation and never left!