So I know I said I was going to finally finish posting all of my Australia things, but I just realized in exactly four months me, my parents, and my sister K will be visiting Juneau, Alaska! My younger sister, M, decided to do a year of service in Juneau after she finished college last year. No one was more surprised than me, but I was determined to visit her while she was there. Until M moved there when I thought of Alaska two things popped into my mind, the children's book Julie of the Wolves and Sarah Palin. Now I hear all about glaciers, the Tlingit and Haida Native Alaska people, marine highways which are really just channels of water since they have no real high ways, and the permanent fund divided. The permanent fund is a huge investment of oil revenues in a variety of stocks and bonds. Around October of every year, the interest earned from the fund pays each resident anywhere between one and two thousand dollars, depending on how the market does. So yes, they actually pay people to live in Alaska! M had to explain this one to our family a few times when she was home for Christmas for us to understand it... Her pictures (including the one at the top of this post) are breathtaking and I cannot wait to see Alaska firsthand.
So where is Juneau? When I found out M was moving there the first thing I did was google it. Apparently the rest of my family did not, because a week after she left I showed them this map. I tried to explain to them that she was basically in Canada, and far away from the tundra. Juneau is on a peninsula in Southeast Alaska, bordering British Columbia. Because it is so far south on Juneau's longest day, June 21, they have 18 hours and 18 minutes of sunlight and on the shortest day in December, they have 6 hours and 21 minutes of daylight. I think everyone was envisioning about three hours of sunlight during the winter...
Juneau is 600 air miles from Anchorage and 900 miles from Seattle. M actually lives on Douglas Island, across the channel from Juneau. Juneau was founded as a gold-mining camp in 1880. It became Alaska's territorial capital in 1900, and the Alaska state capital in 1959 upon statehood. There's no highway access to rest of Alaska or to Canadian provinces. It is the home of University of Alaska Southeast (you might recognize it from the Twilight books...) Here are some of Juneau's top attractions I hope we will be able to visit:
- Mendenhall Glacier
- North America's fifth largest icefield sits in Juneau's backyard, stretching across a 1,500-square-mile area that straddles the boundary between Alaska and Canada. The Mendenhall Glacier is a tongue of ice stretching 12 miles from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. At its widest point, the glacier is more than a half mile wide, with ice 300 to 1,800 feet deep. It is one of 38 large and more than 100 smaller valley glaciers in the Juneau Icefield. The larger Taku, Eagle, and Herbert Glaciers are also nearby.
- Admiralty Island National Monument
- Embracing nearly a million acres of old growth rainforest, alpine tundra, and rugged coastline, Admiralty Island National Monument and the Kootznoowoo Wilderness offer unrivaled opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation in Southeast Alaska. It is also popular for bear viewing.
- Mt. Roberts Tram
- The Mount Roberts Tramway climbs from 27 to 2000 feet bringing you into a pristine alpine environment in just six minutes. At the top you will find trails, an observatory, nature center, restaurant, bar, theater and two gift shops.
- Zipline Tours
- Zipping over a hundred feet above the majestic, rugged beauty of Juneau's mountains, glaciers and waterways. Juneau's two tree-top zipline tours give a true bird's-eye view of the Tongass rainforest. On these eco-adventures or "canopy tours," expert guides zip with you from platform to platform amid the towering trees.
- Alaskan Brewery and Bottling Company
- Alaska has a rich history of brewing. From the explorers of the 1700s through the Gold Rush, many a thirsty Alaskan has been able to enjoy locally made beers. This brewery offers free tours and beer tasting.
- Tracy's Arm Fjord
- Tracy Arm, a classic fjord, has it all- tidewater and elevated glaciers, breathtaking mountains and sheer rock walls that reach up over a mile high with waterfalls that tumble down to the emerald green water, and Alaska's largest icebergs.
I am very excited to see my sister; it has been weird imagining her daily life in Alaska. She put up a picture of her room on Facebook the other day, and I had no idea which bed was hers. I didn't recognize any of her stuff! And of course I am excited to visit a new place (and state). Visiting new places is absolutely one of my favorite things to do!