Finding Alaska.

by tatjannam

Way back in 2000 we were invited to join my husbands college pal at his wedding, in Juneau Alaska. Having never been to Alaska, I had images of a solid frozen place with Eskimos tramping around in big furry boots. I really should have known better, after all, when I arrived in Montana I thought there wasn’t electricity (I was 11). None the less, my husband (then boyfriend) jumped in his Buick, drove the 663 miles to Seattle and jumped a plane with our friend Rob to Juneau. First you should know that if you’ve never flown into Juneau, it is a very unexpected landing that can be described like this. Trees? trees, trees, trees, trees, closer trees, really close trees, fog, runway! So be prepared if you’re a wary traveler to have a friend or seat mate clasp his hand over your mouth when you almost yell “we are all going to die!” , though some insight up until 2 years ago the slowest of roller coasters frightened me. In the meantime I have become a very good flier and can endure most turbulence with the grace of a side seat driving house wife! 🙂

After leaving the airport and entering the “Land of the midnight sun” I was surprised and mystified at once. First, I was incredibly surprised to find instead of igloos and ice, a gorgeous rain forest type environment with  glaciers encroaching upon nearby hills and mountains, the town of Juneau is very much a fishing village environment, with fishing boats and tour vessels.
There are no roads leading to the mainland of Alaska from Juneau so you can only fly or boat in. Our hosts family was really great to us and on the first day took us south “out the road” as they phrased it, to a little Salmon Bake called Thanes Ore house. Being from landlocked area, I have to say, fresh seafood is the bomb! 🙂 The food was great and the diner quaint! YUM! The next day the bride and groom took us on a tour of Mendenhall Glacier and then a cruise of Tracy Arm Fjord. The images in this blog are from that tour and cruise.

(All these images were taken on a disposable camera and were just located and scanned, I’m not so great with my scanner yet.)

I was quite surprised at the amount of gigantic cruise ships making their way through the complicated turns and narrow passages of  Tracy arm Fjord, such a sad thing for such a delicate environment, we were aboard a very small local vessel.  We did get to witness the calving of a glacier which is frightening and beautiful at the same time, the sound is like thunder and great waves can be felt for minutes after the event.

We also viewed seals and bears and I picked up a wee bit of giardia unbeknownst to me at the time!
(Sawyer Glacier)

The next day we took a drive North “out the road” to the shrine of ST. Therese, which is a stunning church and memorial situated on a little island and observed a simply stunning wedding ceremony!
It was actually quite sad to leave such an amazing  place, but even though 12 years has passed (as evidence from the extremely outdated images) Juneau remains another place on my travel list, I would love to go back!

A grizzly bear (brown spot in the middle of shoreline) in Tracy Arm Fjord.

A lush field with a distant view of Mendenhall Glacier in the background.

When I arrived back to Montana, I fancied myself a poet of a sort, and I wrote this on my thoughts of such a lovely place.
Somewhere in the west beyond
glaciers glimmering white,
Beyond cities of modern
suffocation and delerium,
settled upon rocky beaches
that kiss only the waves
and the forgotten creatures
that wash upon it’s hearth.

This is where you’ll find
“the Road” as the locals
may call her, Winding
desperatly to find her
ending, somwhere between
a seashore and an eternal
green forest.

Her shoulders covered in the
emerald moss that claims the
trees and the earth surrounding.
Though “the Road” may go nowhere
she is well versed and well traveled.
She listens quietly as the youth,
entwine unskilled fingers in
tangled hair

And on those bright summer days
that never actually become summer
she is trampled by visitors who
laugh shunnigly at her length.
But still it watches as the
winter sun never rises and
in the spring weddings march
down to her chapel.

Late at night when Juneau
rests peacefully in her mirth
“The Road” laughs for she
is the heart to the beauty of
this place. She will show you
The foaming green glacial waters,
And Dolphins at play, She will
embrace you in angelic forests
where Devils paw lay.
In her brief stretch she can show
you the world, If you’ll only let
her lead.