Friday, July 29, 2016

Juneau what? I dunno, Alaska.

We haven't seen our good friends John and Jenny for a while -- John since January 2015, Jenny since August 2015. So we decided to take advantage of a fare sale at Alaska Airlines ($49 each way? Seriously?) and book a 3-day weekend getaway to Juneau to meet them and their gang of Alaska Marathon Cruisers. We arrived early on Saturday morning, drove past HUNDREDS of bald eagles, dropped off our bags at the Alaskan Hotel, and went out in search of adventure. 

After a few missteps -- we were desperate for breakfast but didn't want to wait an hour to be seated in a cafe, we discovered that the restaurant at the top of Mount Roberts didn't open until 11, and we managed to walk along perhaps the only streets in Juneau that didn't have any cafes open at 9am -- but we fortified ourselves with an energy bar and some string cheese and decided that we could hold out till 11. 

And then, as we headed for the tram station... we noticed that the Red Dog Saloon was open. Well hello there...

As we walked in our eyes took a minute to adjust from the bright white cloudy sky outside to the dimly lit interior. And we, along with everyone else, took three steps, paused, looked down, and saw this:

Who doesn't love a sawdust floor? As we sat at the bar it was funny to watch every single person who walked in do exactly the same thing. Step, step, st---what the ???? Oh, sawdust.

Later in the day the bar would fill to bursting with cruisers, but for a few minutes at least we had the place essentially to ourselves. Nice big bar, lots of little tables.

A fine collection of police patches on the walls. (I don't really know why bars do this, but I like seeing all the different patch designs!)

Requisite taxidermy, of course.

Right next door to the saloon is the obligatory gift shop ... where, for $1.99 and a coupon from one of those "cruiser coupon books", Wil picked up one of these. 

we don't need no stinkin' hoods!
Okay, two of these.

ready for the rain!
Then we headed over to the Mount Roberts tramway for our short, steep ride up to the top. 

Did I mention that it was very, very rainy?

Very, very rainy...

Yep. Very rainy.  But I bet on a clear day the view is amazing... Anyway, we looked around at the exhibits, and Wil measured himself against the local wildlife...

And we visited an injured bald eagle, Lady Baltimore, in the tiny "rehabilitation center". She looked bored to tears, poor dear.

Lady Baltimore
We watched their fine movie about Juneau, and then headed in to the restaurant where we snagged a nice table by the window (again, on a clear day the view would have been magnificent!) and some really delicious nachos. This was the "small" order. 

Timberline Restaurant nachos
Fully stuffed, we headed out into the wind and rain to do a tiny "nature walk"... seeing twisty tree trunks and lush greenery, but the weather was just so miserable that we hustled around the half-mile loop and retreated back inside. Too darn blustery. 

So blustery that Wil stowed the umbrella hats and went back to wearing his hood. 

Eventually we headed back down to Juneau, where we whiled away the day poking around the gift shops, sampling local beers in a couple of different pubs, and walking around Juneau's neighborhoods. Much of our meandering was influenced by a very cool map we had picked up, created by the Alaska Robotics store.

Map by Alaska Robotics
Alaska Robotics is a great little store that carries graphic novels, plus prints and shirts and such created by local artists. We walked in and the woman behind the counter said, "Would you like a map?" and I held up the one I had picked up and said, "We already have one! It's gorgeous!" 

Another great find, thanks to Alaska Robotics, was the exquisite Kindred Post; a post office plus store plus hangout. Of course, I may regret the discovery that there are LIMITED EDITION Blackwing pencils...

We had our usual little "what would it be like if we lived here?" fantasy. We had a nap. And we had a great, low-key dinner at the Alaska Fish & Chips Company where we sat outside, protected from the rain by a clear roof and from the cold by some outdoor heaters. 

photo by Alaska Fish & Chips Company
One of the highlights was a really interesting beer from Alaskan Brewing Company -- a cranberry-spruce beer. And it was lovely. Sadly, two days later we thought we'd swing through again for another pint and the keg had just blown. Turns out it was a limited-edition beer as part of their "rough draft" series. 

And, um, yes, we did have fish and chips. Because, well, ALASKA!!!!

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