Last week started out with a huge bucket list item getting checked off my list: I went to Juneau! I’ve wanted to go to Alaska’s capital city ever since I moved here, but it’s not exactly easy to get to. You either have to take an expensive flight, or you can drive to another coastal town and take the ferry down (which takes days from the closest port to Anchorage). There’s no way to drive to Juneau! We’ve been busy exploring Alaska by car since we moved here, and I’m such a mess when it comes to boat trips, so we haven’t been able to take a vacation down there. But last week I got the chance to go there for work and I was so excited!
We flew down late Sunday night, worked all day on Monday, and spent Tuesday lobbying at the capital, but I was able to take a lunch break each day and spent that time exploring the town. Juneau was in rare form with sunny skies (it’s in a rainforest so it’s almost always raining there), and I also loved the warmer-than-Anchorage temperatures and the fact that there was no snow or ice on the ground. There’s a myth that Alaska is a cold and snowy place all winter long, but that’s not true for Juneau. It has a similar (but colder) climate to Seattle.
My short lunch breaks were spent running down to the coffee shop located a few blocks from the capital building and drinking my coffee in a park by the docks. On Monday I got to watch two seals chase tiny fish around in Gastineau Channel!
I really liked the town’s quiet vibe and the gorgeous historical buildings. I have a soft spot for mountainous coastal towns, but I really loved both the scenery and the architecture in Juneau. The downtown area is built into the side of the mountain, and everything is crazy hilly. The capital building was at the top of the hill and my inner history nerd was geeking out so bad over everything in the capital building. There’s no big rotunda on top like the capital buildings in many other states, but it was still really impressive! Each floor had a different decoration theme – one floor was old pictures of legislators, one had old newspaper articles, one had Alaska native art, etc. Plus I felt so lucky to be walking around in those important hallways and helping my students meet with their state senators and representatives.
My trip was over way too soon, and I was sad that I wasn’t able to spend any time hiking, kayaking, or glacier viewing. My husband took one look at my pictures and decided that we need to book a weekend trip down there ASAP. I think once I’m all the way down there I’ll want to visit all the other coastal towns as well. When it comes to southeastern Alaska, I’ve only been to Skagway (because that’s where the Klondike Road Relay AKA the Alaska/Canada version of Ragnar starts) but I’m dying to visit Sitka and Haines too, and maybe take a boat trip into Glacier Bay. I guess I better get over my seasickness soon!
Have you ever been to your state capital? What’s the coolest place you ever got to visit for a work trip?