June 27, 2013

Alaska Cruise: Juneau -- Warm, Sunny, a Bit Boring

On our day in Juneau, the temperature hit 83 degrees -- a new record high for that day.

We arrived at 1pm Saturday and weren't scheduled to depart until 11pm -- our longest port stop. A lifelong city dweller who loves living in our nation's capital, I was looking forward to a full day in Alaska's capital city. I also thought it would be fun to go to a local restaurant, a break from the meals on the ship.

Here's downtown Juneau at 8 o'clock on Saturday night:


Most shops were closed. The streets were pretty deserted. The only sounds of life were coming from the Red Dog Saloon. I asked the nice lady at a tourist information booth for a restaurant recommendation -- someplace simple, casual, popular with locals. She recommended Tracy's King Crab Shack -- another of the town's few lively spots -- hidden behind a parking lot near the public library.

I like crab legs . . . when someone else has done the work of extricating the meat. But the guys here were doing just fine:


The crab bisque may have been the best I've ever tasted. I'd never had coconut crabcakes before, and they were fine. But the accompanying sauce was too sweet.


Juneau in Brief
Juneau is our only state capital you can't be reach by road. The city is on the Alaskan mainland, but it's cut off from the rest of the state by the Juneau ice field to the east and by wilderness to the north and south.

Government -- local, state, federal -- is the town's biggest industry, employing half of all workers. The tourist trade is the next biggest employer.

My Juneau Tours
For the second day in a row, my tour choice was sightseeing by floatplane. This time, we'd see the five massive glaciers that make up the Juneau ice field. Here's one of those glaciers, upper right:


We got lots of nice closeup views of the mountains, too.  Sometimes they seemed a little too close up:


As much as the pricey flight, I enjoyed the much less costly  ride up Mount Roberts. From the top, there's a sensational view of Juneau and its position on the Gastineau Channel:


Operated by a Tlingit corporation, the tram carries visitors up to a restaurant, museum, and gift shop. There's also a theater, where I watched an interesting film about Tlingit history and culture.

Trails lead away from the center and into the forested mountainside. I had one of those "wish I could" moments, as I watched others head out for a hike into the lovely pine woods.

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