Juneau, Shopping Capitol of Alaska

September 4, 2014

We arrived in Juneau with the intention of wandering around and visiting the State Museum. It was cloudy but without rain. That qualifies as a nice day in Juneau. We did not feel compelled to visit the Mendenhall Glacier and thought about going up the tram but paying to go into the fog didn’t seem profitable. We decided to wander and take it easy. It turned out just fine.

We visited a number of Alaskan craft shops and found a number of objects we needed including a stuffed puffin doll. Peggy even found puffin socks. The only item missing from the puffin ensemble is a gaudy puffin t-shirt. We spent a fair amount of time looking at photographs. The problem is that we are running out of wall space. There were,some wonderful wild life photos.

We spent a good hour in an old shop filled with Native crafts and artifacts. The young Tlingit and I exchanged notes on Native food including stinky heads (fish heads buried until they of a pungent cheesy texture). We shared similar feelings about beaver tail, seal and walrus meat. It is fun to recount our Alaskan adventures. The young man was planning on leaving for Hawaii as soon as he and his girl friend graduate from college. He told us that it would be tough to leave his family since he grew up in one of the small villages. The carvings were excellent. I am covetous of the soft, clear Yellow Cedar that they use.

We wandered towards the state museum but it was closed. It was a disappointment but the visit to the craft shops compensated to some degree. It was especially fun to just talk to the locals. We returned to our conveniently docked ship for lunch before heading out again. We managed to not buy anymore saffron as Jennifer is running out of shelf space. We were not sure Alaskan saffron would be all that good.

Juneau enjoys the tourists brought by the cruise ships. It is significant part of their economy. But the city of 30,000 has plenty of state and federal employees along with those in the fishing and logging industries. There are plenty of bars and more than a few too many locals who spent too much time with a glass in their hand. They had a humane “recovery van” picking up some the guys who needed some help mid-day. This unseemly part of the local scene seemed somewhat truly Alaskan in a reality TV sort of way.

We pretty much bypassed the diamond and jewelry stores that are partially owned by the cruise lines and stayed in the local shops. Since it is the end of the season, we found great deals on t-shirts and other essentials. Dave and I dodged the bullet in the high end alpaca and woolen shops as Peggy and Leslie couldn’t find the right colors. We also stayed out of the smoke filled tourist bars but were briefly tempted at the King Crab cookers.

It was an easy day but a fun one to just relax. Tomorrow is totem poles and salmon in Ketchikan.

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