Juneau

After Sitka, we sailed on to Juneau. Like Sitka, it’s inaccessible by road, even though it’s on the mainland. There is a serious mountain range just inshore, and the city is strung out along the narrow strip between the mountains and the water. Why in the world would they put the state capital here? Its only other claim to fame is the Red Dog Saloon.

Once upon a time the Red Dog was a real saloon, like the one in Robert Service’s The Shooting of Dan McGrew, but now it’s all touristy. They still have sawdust on the floor, but I’ll bet it has to be EPA-approved sawdust.

Like Sitka, all the streets within walking distance of the harbor are lined with tourist shops. By the way, early to mid-September is a great time to shop in Alaska for sweaters, winter coats and similar stuff. All the retailers are having end-of-season sales with really big markdowns (50-70%).

Our final stop on the way to Vancouver was Ketchikan. The river in the photo is one up which the salmon go to spawn. The whitish building on the right is a former brothel. The local saying was "Where men and fish go for the same reason."

This place, also on an island, gets 13 feet of rain a year. Is that ridiculous or what? Officially, this area is a temperate rain forest. The city has another unusual distinction. You have to go from the city to the airport by ferry boat. That’s right. There isn’t enough flat space for an airport, or even a landing strip, on the side where the city is, so they put the airport across an inlet. No, they couldn’t build a road around the edge of the inlet. Too mountainous.

Our string of fabulously clear and sunny days ran out in the afternoon of our Ketchikan visit, but by the time the rain started, we’d finished our walk-about and were back aboard. We sailed that afternoon, spent the next day and night sailing through rainy weather (but we didn’t care) and got into Vancouver the next morning.

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