She gets off the train and swiftly tucks her gloveless hands in her coat pockets; jamming her right thumb into the clumped up earphone cords connected to her phone that is, also, jammed in her pocket. She walks briskly to the traffic light and waits with head bowed for the light to favour her crossing. Five minutes after she has crossed the slushy mess of a road, she is letting herself into a warm lobby with a fob that is part of the tangled mess of that same right coat pocket. She briefly debates checking her mailbox but doesn’t do it. She, more pressingly, needs to pee. She takes the elevator up to her floor and walks – trots- to her door. She pauses for the briefest of beats outside her door and swings her tote off her shoulder. She lets it hang at her side as she opens the door – it will discourage the cat from dashing outside when she opens the door wide enough to walk in. He is sitting by the door as expected, he is shooed back by the bag he has not yet come to expect after six months of the same… Cats are not known to be exceptionally bright. She closes the door and does a pee-jig by it as she hangs up her coat. It has become more like a pee-shimmy by the time she kicks off her boots and walks sideways to the bathroom. She pees – relief. The cat winds his way around her legs. She wishes that he wouldn’t. He rubs himself on her tights. She tells him to go away. He seems to listen and settles just outside the door. She needs a shower and some dinner – in that order. The shower is warm and necessary. The cat sits just behind the shower curtain and jumps back when she is done and moves the curtains out of the way. She puts some music on and sashays as she lotions. She throws on something comfy then passes through a body spray mist she has created on her way out the bathroom door. She decides a quick stir fry will do and gets out a chopping board. The cat trails her to the kitchen, meowing now in hopes of a cat treat. She picks out a knife to chop some onions, the cat lays it’s upright tail lazily on her legs. She squats, plants her vegetable knife deep in the thorax of the cat in one swift motion, then walks back to the bathroom for another shower.
I’m going to try pretending I didn’t go to Juneau last weekend. That I, in fact, am currently there and dutifully blogging at the end of each day like I said to myself that I would. But, of course, I’ve never been excellent at pretending… or not procrastinating so, I will own up to my one week of tardiness and hope my memory can still do the right kind of justice to what was definitely an experience. I will try and break up this post into two so neither are too long. I would prefer the pictures to speak for themselves, barring a few anecdotes. That being said, this is still going to be a really long post. So, I’m sorry and good luck.
Before I jump in, let’s note that I spend a great deal of my life doing a few uncomfortable comfortable things. We all do them, I’m sure most people like me are bugged by them, but we STILL do them. You know, like when we laugh at something we didn’t hear someone say in conversation but we can’t ask them to repeat for whatever reason? Or when we leave someone to have the wrong assumption about something we said or did because it’s not worth the correction and we just hope the point will never come up again? I call those things uncomfortable comfortable things. Because typically, we just can’t be too bothered.
In my case though, I do other things like always offer my own experiences when someone tells me theirs (if there’s a similarity, or the complete opposite). Not to belittle the significance or insignificance of what I’m being told (which it is often mistaken for), but to show that there is empathy or understanding; that there is solidarity in the sharing of the experience. But if you are like me, you do that enough and you begin to feel like you need to take a step back, remember what it feels like to not identify with someone or an experience. Sometimes, I forget that I want to walk into a situation like I don’t know a damned thing.
Because, if not, I get so accustomed to trying to identify/compare anecdotes or experiences to ones in my archives, that I stop creating new ones. I no longer have the blank slate necessary for completely new experiences and perspectives that are not like ones I already have. In other words, and to paraphrase my mother, I need to stop acting like I have all the damn answers.
And that’s why trips like Juneau are always necessary for people like me – Trips to unpopular* destinations taken alone with adventure and discovery being the main motives. Words like adventure and discovery always insinuate novelty anyway and novelty is required to learn. So, I needed this journey to Alaska. And, as soon as my plane started taxiing for take-off, I realised that I needed it more than I thought.
In honour of how many things I didn’t know before embarking on this trip, here are some fun (not so fun) facts about Juneau, Alaska that I learned along the way courtesy of my formal and informal guides:
– Juneau is the capital of Alaska. (You thought it was Anchorage, didn’t you? Didn’t you? Don’t lie)
– About 33 000 people are actual residents of Juneau, making it the second largest city in Alaska.
– Juneau is home to about 600 bald eagles. They’re literally everywhere like pigeons are to Chicago or NY. Okay, I exaggerate a little but they’re seriously everywhere.
– We plebeians, that do not make Alaska our permanent abodes, live in the ‘lower 48’.
– Admiralty island, 6 miles from Juneau, has the highest population of brown bears in Northern America.
– That doesn’t mean they are lacking in any other species of bear over there. I was reminded often that I was in ‘bear country’.
– There are 17 million acres of forest around Juneau
– It rains too much in Juneau. Like I could tell you they had 100 inches of precipitation each year but that doesn’t mean much to you, does it? So translation – it’s a freaking lot. But it did not rain ONCE in my three days there. Can you say miracle?
Last, but certainly the highlight of my facts:
– There is a block in downtown Juneau that has an elementary school with a middle school right beside it. Beside that is the high school. Across from the high school is a polytechnic where you learn boat maintenance and repair. Beside that polytechnic is a boat wharf where boats with issues are fixed. Behind the elementary school on the other side of the block is the retirement home, and down the street from that is the cemetery. They call that beautiful arrangement in Juneau the circle of life.
Okay, it’s over. I’m going to jump into pictures now! And as you look at these pictures, think on this – One of my tour drivers asked (in pretty standard fashion) if anyone going rafting had ever been to Alaska before. Only a couple people had so he asked why they kept coming back and a lady pipes up from the back of the school bus saying, ” Because this is God’s country.” She was probably referring to the beauty and how nature still leaves so beautifully with humanity. And it’s the truest thing I heard my entire trip. So enjoy God’s country 🙂
-The view from my hotel window – Downtown Juneau
– The view of Mount Roberts from Downtown Juneau
– Downtown Juneau looking down towards the coast and Mount Roberts tramway
– A bald eagle chilling on a street light post
– The Mendenhall glacier from lake Mendenhall
– Hi! It’s me!
– And again
– “Crazee the clown”
– Just a cool picture. And clouds. OMG clouds.
– No phones, no cameras, no children, no drunks. LOL
– Because mountains and clouds everywhere. Seriously, clouds
– Mandatory selfie with a pinch of a view 🙂
– Some cool graffitti
– The best restaurant in downtown Juneau – Tracy’s King Crab Shack
– My shrimp sauce ( seriously the best and freshest shrimp), king crab bisque, ginger ale and light reading
– The view of Juneau from the Mount Roberts tram
– And again
– And yet again
– Lady Baltimore – a half-crippled, half-blind bald eagle close to Mount Robert’s summit
– So many cautionary signs
– I did say I was in Bear Country
– At the summit of Mount Roberts
– The trail from the summit of Mount Roberts
* – Places to which people in my regular circles do not visit and do not plan to visit for a plethora of reasons.