After the cruise, Kevin and Elise returned straight away to Anchorage to get back to work, leaving Jasper and Zoë in our care for a few days.
I figured there are some great education opportunities for kids in Juneau. You could learn about Native American Tlingit culture at the Sealaska Heritage Institute. The highlight is a beautiful, hand-carved full-size clan house completely inside the museum building. Here’s the front of the clan house — you’d typically expect to find this outside:
and check out this amber pillar in front of a stunning backlit glass and metal screen:
You could learn about the Russian period in Alaska while visiting the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church:
The kids could also learn a bit about civics and visit their state capitol building. Inside the capitol is a great photography exhibit (permanent, I think) with high quality shots of Alaskan natives (mostly Tlingit, I think) taken over 100 years ago. Additionally, outside the lieutenant governor’s office (Byron Mallott (D)) was an exhibit about climate change and its impact on Alaska — subsidence due to melting permafrost, bushes and trees creeping northward and upward, and less snow and ice. I’m sure that’s not a permanent exhibit.
However, none of this excited the kids too much. Their favorite stop seemed to be the Devil’s Club Brewery where we tasted their “hazy pale ale”, Belgian Amber, Belgian Tripel, and Imperial Stout.
On another day we equipped the kids with some powerful bear spray and went out to enjoy Alaska’s fine weather. The wilderness really does start right on the edge of Juneau, and the mountains climb steeply from downtown. We walked up the popular Mt. Roberts Trail and only managed to find one bear.
For more disturbing climate change evidence one can visit the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau. The visitor center used to be right next to the glacier. Now the glacier is barely visible from the visitor center. The lake (of which only a small portion can be seen here) and the waterfall in this photo were under many meters of ice not so long ago. The highlight in the visitor center is a dramatic photographic time lapse clearly demonstrating the increasing rate of change (of ice loss) in the last decade.
On a brighter note check out this dramatic statue on the new boardwalk in Juneau:
I must say I was a bit relieved at the airport that we were able to get Jasper and Zoë on the flight from Juneau to Anchorage without their parents and without any documentation indicating that we had their parents’ permission to travel with them. Jasper made it home safely and in time for his birthday party:
Ferda and I borrowed a couple bicycles and found our first moose of the trip at Point Woronzof, not far from Kevin and Elise’s house:
Continuing around from the point one arrives at Kincaid Park, a large park right inside Anchorage, popular with cyclists, joggers, hikers, and skiers. Sage took us for a walk there one day:
The best hike we did during our one month in Alaska was a jaunt up Bird Ridge with Peter. The views of Turnagain Arm and nearby mountains are superb.
Now it’s time to go look for some bears…