Posted in North America, Travels, United States

Travel Archives: Juneau, AK

So I found an old SD card that is literally a treasure trove of images from past travels, holidays, and numerous drunken nights in college that I thought were just part of some horrible, beer-and-vodka-filled dream.

Anyways, I found some beautiful pictures of my trip to Alaska a few years ago, and I thought I’d share some of them here, along with a rundown of my trip. Juneau is really beautiful — keep reading for my stories.

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View from the dock

I took this trip with my family as part of a cruise with Royal Caribbean. I will just first say that I have cruised twice with them, and both times were fantastic. It also helps that my family is huge and we pretty much take over an entire section of the ship.

Now, as someone who resides in (sometimes) sunny California, I always thought Alaska would be cold and overrun with moose and bears. I don’t know why — I guess I watched too many inaccurate cartoons as a child. Alaska does have a summer. I went in July and it was absolutely beautiful. Yes, bring warm clothing, but I also did get away with wearing shorts in some areas because I started to overheat running around the little towns.

Now back to Juneau — I remember the tour guide telling me that the only way to get in or out of Juneau was by plane or by boat, since there are no roads leading out of Juneau (BTW feel free to correct me if you know if any of this is wrong). No lie, we totally judged the guide when we first met her. So we all line up at the stop right outside the ship and our tour bus is already parked. There’s a tiny young lady standing right outside of the door checking people off on her list as they board. She’s seriously like 5’4″ and I’d be surprised if she weighed over 130 lbs. Plus, if she had told me that she just turned 18, I would have believed her. Anyways, we’re all on the bus ready for the tour and she gets on, gives a little speech, and sits behind the wheel of the bus and starts the engine. She hears us all murmur behind her, and she goes (with her adorable Southern drawl), “I know what ya’ll are thinkin’. Ya’ll think I’m too small to drive this big ol’ thing. Well, ya’ll watched me park and I didn’t hit anything.”

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Against the sun

She was hilarious. I loved this lady. She took us out to the Mendenhall Glacier. Great tourist destination — be sure to walk all the way out to the little waterfall and out to the edge to see the glacier a little bit closer. The Mother was a tad disappointed after I convinced her to walk out with me out to the edge of the water — she was able to see that some of the ice on the glacier was dirty, which upset her for some reason.

TOUR GUIDE TIP: Make sure you’re on time for your tour bus. Apparently, this isn’t common sense for everyone. Our guide told us a story about once when she was preparing to leave the visitor’s center at the glacier and she noticed her count was off by one person. She asked everyone on the bus if they were missing anyone or knew of anyone that was missing. When the response was a negative, she decided that she had counted wrong the first time and decided to leave. About 10 minutes after she left, she got a call on the radio from the visitor’s center about someone she had left behind. She turned back around and was greeted with a lady who was furious. Of course, the guide was apologetic, and then asked the lady if she was with anyone.

“Yeah, my husband.”

The husband was the only one on the bus sitting alone and said nothing as the wife sat down next to him, still upset. At the end of the tour, the guide said the husband tipped her with a $50 and told her, “I always tell my wife to be on time or she’s going to be left behind. You taught her a good lesson. This is the best tour I’ve ever been on.”

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This is either a picture of the Mendenhall Glacier, or some random snowy mountainside

Anyways, I had time to wander around the town afterwards. It’s easy walking distance from where my ship docked. There’s a lot of local souvenir shops (but they honestly sell pretty much the same things). Jewelry is apparently really big out in Alaska. Our ship gave us a charm bracelet, and we could collect (free!) charms from specific jewelry stores at each port (they gave us a list). I ended up being suckered into a set of (teal!) earrings that convert from studs to drops. They’re now my favorite pair. Another big souvenir is an ulu knife (Google it), which you can find in various sizes. If you decide to buy one while you’re out there (especially if you’re there with a cruise ship), know the rules of whatever company you’re traveling with. For Royal Caribbean, you either had to ship the knives home (which the store was happy to do for us for a fee) or you had to check them in with the cruise staff and pick it up after disembarking at the end of the cruise. I think the last option takes FOREVER. Just ship it home. The knife made it to my house before I did.

Juneau was my first stop in Alaska, and seriously, if you ever have the chance to go, do it. It can get cold, but it’s SO beautiful. My potato pictures don’t give it justice.

As always, questions? Comments? Inaccuracies? Let me know below!

Two other stops on this cruise! Stay tuned for more!

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