We awoke to much smoother seas. We were done with open ocean for a bit, and were navigating within the islands of northern Canada/Southern Alaska. The weather was good so we had great views of the islands on our way in to dock in Juneau. As we entered the harbor we could see the beach across from the Marina, which had a bright yellow color in the sand. This was all apparently a man-made beach, crushed rock pulled out of the Gold mines that honeycomb the hills here. The excess rock was dumped, making a sandy beach that wasn’t there before.
Once we docked we had a good 3 hours before our main tour, so we left the ship and walked around the town. It was a really funky old town. With surprisingly little development despite having a population of 30,000 and 20,000 tourists visiting on a busy day. There was one shopping street, and my mission was to find a couple of simple windbreakers for Yulia and Sasha. They had enough warm fleece with them, but nothing that I thought was good enough if it started to rain.
We found the Alaska Brewery shop, which I was excited to see. I don’t drink that much beer anymore, but I love Alaskan Amber. Yulia hates beer, but even she likes their beer. We looked about and I figured that I would hold off and get something from them online later.
All the shops were cool, and prices were touristy, but not unreasonable. Eventually we found a place that had some nice jackets and I managed to convince Yulia and Sasha to pick one out. I also got myself a oilskin rain hat, just in case.
We found a Russian shop a ways down the street. Half the place was filled with the traditional Dolls, Boxes, crystal and crap. The other half was Post-Soviet junk, KGB shirts, CCCP caps, etc. It was all the crap you usually bought in Moscow, but cheaper.
Sasha looked across the street and saw the Gondola Ride that took you to the top of the mountain. It was a cheap ticket, and we still had two hours, so we figured that it would be fun to take some photos from the top of the mountain. It was a quick ride up to the top, and the view was fantastic.
They had a Bald Eagle up top that was in permanent care after being shot by some hunter. She looked pretty worse for wear, but it was nice to see folks taking care of her. Hopefully the hunter gets some creeping jock itch or other karmic punishment. Fucker.
Inside the mountain center we ran into a local selling a healing balm made from local plants. He was in the middle of tables of typical necklaces, hats, and touristic crap. He was motioning everyone over to try some. I read the ingredients and saw that the active plant was a local arctic Wormwood. This was cool since Wormwood is the active herb in Absinthe, which was originally part of WW1 medkits. Yulia tried it, and it was smelly but helped her sore back. I got two jars for fun.
We sat down at the restaurant for lunch. They had great crab, and fish and a chips. I got the special that included Alaskan Amber beer. While we waited, I checked out my phone and found an open wifi network. I joined and opened Facetime on the phone to see who was on. We ended up calling Roger and Anya and talked with them with video, and even got to see Oscar.
We looked about for a bit, then headed back down to our ship to catch the ride to our gold panning tour. It was raining now, not too heavy, but enough to make the jackets and hat pretty valuable. Our tour bus drove us through town and to the river on the far side of the mountain. This was a historical district and in addition to the tourists, several locals were panning there as well.
We were shown how to pan, washing the lighter dirt away and leaving the heavy gold (and iron) in the bottom. We were able to get the gold out of our starter pans, and Yulia was good enough to scoop dirt straight from the river and find a few more flakes. It was fun, but cold and rainy. We were getting pretty chilled by the time we were done. We all packed up and the bus drove us out to the Salmon Bake.
The food at the salmon bake was excellent. But we were getting cold. We stayed for a short while, took some photos, and got back on the bus. We were tired, and wet. Once we got back to the boat, we were beat.