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Welcome back, armchair travellers! David and I have just returned to Canberra from a three week sojourn on the west coast of USA and Canada where we enjoyed happy visits with friends and family in Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Santa Monica (LA); wandered for a few days in Seattle; and spent a week aboard the small ship “Sea Lion” exploring the the coves, inlets and forests of the Inside Passage of Alaska. Now that we’ve recovered somewhat from jet lag and have downloaded our photos, we’re ready to begin sharing some of our experiences with you in yet another wonderful part of our world.

Because it’s a place that many of you may not have had the opportunity to explore for yourselves, we’ll begin our stories with our trip into some stunningly beautiful wilderness areas of Alaska.

To begin that journey, we had to fly to the small, quiet town of Juneau, home to about 32,000 people. That’s a number that swells by upwards of 10,000 a day in the tourist season from May to September. The only way in or out of this town, surrounded as it is by mountains, is by sea or air. We arrived by air a day earlier than our group so that we would have time to explore the town.

Juneau as seen from Mount Roberts

Juneau as seen from Mount Roberts

Hemmed in by mountains on all sides, Juneau has always been dependant on the sea. Nowadays, the airport is situated on the level plains beyond the town. The flight path is quite exciting as it comes down between mountains that range from 1,100m to 1,200 m in height.

The airport is a very busy one because of the constant small plane and helicopter traffic. In fact, we were told that there are more planes in and out of Juneau per year than fly in and out of LAX in busy Los Angeles. Many people in Alaska have their own planes; it’s the popular way to get around.

Map of Juneau from sign post in the town

Map of Juneau from sign post in the town

It doesn’t take long to explore this small town, even though, by area, we were told, that it’s the second largest city in USA! Juneau is, in fact, the Capital of Alaska having been given that title in 1906 after the US took ownership of the Russian base of Sitka. The city is named after gold prospector Joe Juneau, though it was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg. Joe Juneau and Richard Harris marked out 160 acres as a town site on October 18, 1880. A mining camp gradually grew on the site as more gold was discovered in the area.

The town is built on a grid pattern although there are two main roads. One runs alongside the Gastineau Channel while another heads up from the docks into town. This street is lined with souveneir shops since it is closest to the port and the coming and going of cruise liners. The main town is more interesting; it’s the place where locals shop and it’s where we spent most time. We had breakfast at the Heritage coffee shop… not Starbucks, though of course they are there. The coffee was so, so much better to our Australian taste at Heritage!

Local shopping street in Juneau ©  P1130408 by JT of jtdytravels

Local shopping street in Juneau © P1130408 by JT of jtdytravels

It doesn’t take a lot of time to explore here; we just browsed.

So why not come for a wander with us!

Art in the streets © DY  of jtdytravels P1100166

Art in the streets © DY of jtdytravels P1100166

One of the first things to catch the eye are the colourful banners.

Bold, brash, colourful and cheerful.

They are everywhere.

King Crab Banner ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100213

King Crab Banner © DY of jtdytravels; P1100213

Each individual banner is someone’s art.

This one evokes the warmth of the summer sun,

the beauty of the channel and mountains

and the taste of my favourite Alaskan food, King Crab.

Detail of King Crab ©  DY  of  jtdytravels P1100213 - Version 2

Detail of King Crab © DY of jtdytravels; P1100213 – Version 2

It’s not hard to imagine the members of the Juneau version of the “stitch and bitch” group getting together on long cold, dreary winter days to make these wonderful banners. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but I rather hope they do. Social contact and a focus on something so uplifting and cheerful would be very beneficial in a place that experiences long dark days. We were in Juneau on the longest day of their year. We would experience almost 22 hours of daylight every day of our trip. But in winter, those hours are more like 6 hours of daylight (not necessarily sunshine as it is most likely raining or snowing!) and 18 hours of black darkness. There are not many visitors to Juneau in winter. Contact with the outside world is a summer thing. Winter can be a time of increased mental stress for many and getting together to make such banners would be a fun thing to do.

Baskets of flowers line most street. ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130414

Baskets of flowers line most streets. © JT of jtdytravels; P1130414

Hanging baskets of flowers also brighten up the streetscape

after the long, cold, dreary, wet winter!

Petunias make a happy statement to all who pass by.

A delightful geranium © JT  of jtdytravels; P1130440

A bumble visits geraniums © JT of jtdytravels; P1130440

It seems that every town in the world uses

delightful geraniums to brighten up garden beds and sidewalks.

Cheerful flowers along sidewalk © DY  of jtdytravels

Cheerful Rudbeckia flowers along sidewalk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100149

There were many other flowers, like this Rudbeckia, or cone flower,

bringing the feel of sunshine to the side walks.

Cheerful flowers brighten the sidewalks © DY  of jtdytravels

Taking a closer look!  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100148

As most of you know, both David and I are avid flower photographers.

We enjoyed these well known garden plants but

we were also hoping to find many native plants on walks in the forests.

An inviting book shop; © JT of jtdytravels P1130409

An inviting book shop; © JT of jtdytravels; P1130409

Rainy Retreat! I do like this type of inviting bookshop.

And yes it does rain, often, in Juneau.

You can’t have the famous Alaskan glaciers without precipitation.

Records show an average of 93 inches of rain over 240 days in a year.

Add to that, 70 inches of snow over 30 days in the year.

Luckily for us, June/July has a low amount of rainfall.

Eye catching book title  ©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130447

Eye catching book title © JT of jtdytravels; P1130447

What a great name for a book; it certainly catches the eye!

It’s author is cartoonist, Matthew Inman.

We wondered if we would meet any grizzly bears on our travels….

and if so, would they be wearing underpants…

or would we need clean ones!

Large mural on side of City Hall ©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130417

Large mural on side of City Hall © JT of jtdytravels; P1130417

The wildlife doesn’t look particularly friendly

as depicted in this large mural along the side of the Juneau City Hall!

An Alakan no smoking sign ©  JT  of  jtdytravels ; P1130490

An Alaskan no smoking sign © JT of jtdytravels ; P1130490

Most cafes and shops are non smoking places, thank goodness,

and most have this great sign in their windows.

We hoped to see some puffins in the wild on our journey.

An interesting souveneir! ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130491

An interesting souveneir! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130491

Indeed, it seemed to us that the people of Juneau have a great sense of humour.

We left this souveneir in the shop, but did buy a couple of tee shirts and

a small harbour seal ornament for our Christmas tree.

We always add some small momento of our travels to our tree.

A great motto  ©  JT of jtdytravels; P1130445

A great motto © JT of jtdytravels; P1130445

There may be ships, boats and small planes aplenty in Juneau,

but there are no hot air balloon rides.

This poster was inspirational; it made a very good ‘thought for the day’!

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In our next post, we’ll join our group to visit Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau.

It’s the only glacier we could visit by bus and on foot.

Jennie and David

Some of our other travel adventures are on

www.dymusings.com

and travel photos on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

AND

you can watch a youtube film of the approach and landing at Juneau airport on

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWsqKR0dxRg

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I’ve been looking back at some of my photos of the trip around Northern Ireland and have selected a few to share with you all.      J

Rowallane Garden near Downpatrick, County Down

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The kitchen garden area of Rowallane Walled Garden.

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The delicacy of a peony in a shower of rain.

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The rain may have bowed this Nepalese Poppy but it could not spoil its beauty.

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In the damp parklands at Rowallane there were plenty of fungi.

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This little robin was totally unafraid of us – a special treat.

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Mount Stewart Gardens – lake and park area with family mausoleum on hill side.

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Swans and cygnets by the lake at Mount Stewart.

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Abstract of raindrops on water and green algae at lakes edge.

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A lovely iris by the water’s edge.

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Even in a park of large trees, the delicate hand of nature can still be found.

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Formal gardens at Mount Stewart House.

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There are many small boat harbours – this one at Carnlough

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Views across green farms on our narrow country road explorations.

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Hedges of fuchsias line many small country roads.

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Coastal views of farm country from the very narrow, twisting, winding, steep hilly road to Torr Head. It was an experience!

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Views from B&Bs like this one by the sea at Glenariff.

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Bumblebees in geraniums – they were everywhere – a delight.

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Wildflowers on cliff paths by the ocean.

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Looking down on rocky cliffs along the north coast.

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Old ruins of castles like Deluce Castle.

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Small sailing craft lay at anchor in quiet bays – this one called Isobel.

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Families enjoyed the quiet places along the coast despite the weather – here at Portballintrae.

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Beautiful hedge roses grow alongside many small country roads.

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Tiny villages are tucked into safe bays along the north coast.

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Very occasionally, a sandy beach is protected by a rocky outcrop – this one at Ballintoy.

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A tiny pied wagtail chases insects at Ballintoy beach.

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Small cottage cafes abound like The Red Door on a farm at Ballintoy.W

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White Park Bay

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All rugged up against wind, rain and cold (in summer) at Giant’s Causeway.

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We watched from a safe vantage point as others cross the infamous rope bridge.

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Small fishing boats seem far too fragile to take on the seas out from these northern bays.

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Interesting skies always hailed the end of each day.

And that ends this small roundup of photos from our wonderful time in Northern Ireland.

J and A

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