This trip had me exploring a place that never in my wildest dreams (okay fine, maybe in my wildest, most fervent dreams) did I think I’d ever visit. Alaska always seemed so remote, and yes, so amazing, that setting foot there just didn’t seem possible. That changed because of a semi-serious joke that an Alaskan cruise would be the perfect venue for a family reunion. Because why the heck not?
Our cruise started out in Seattle, then went on to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, then Victoria in Canada. Each place stole my heart in its own way.
Juneau is the state capital of Alaska and is one of only two state capitals that aren’t accessible by land (the other one is Honolulu, Hawaii). Because of the rugged terrain surrounding it, there are no roads leading to Juneau. The city is only accessible by sea and air (cars are loaded on a ferry). Our tour guide told us that Juneau International Airport qualifies as “international” because of the one flight a week to Canada via Alaskan Airlines but alas, I have yet to find that route (yes, I actually checked Alaska’s website).
Juneau’s modern history, as with most Alaskan towns, started because of the gold rush. The city is named after prospector Joe Juneau. It used to be called Harrisburg, after Juneau’s co-founder Richard Harris, but the local Tlingit ended up not liking him very much and shifted their allegiance to Juneau. Tlingit Chief Kowee guided Harris and Juneau to the mouth of Gold Creek in 1880, where the two struck gold.
So what’s there to see in Juneau?