58-61: Haines and Juneau

58: It was glorious to sleep in a real bed and get to sleep in as long as I wanted. I did all the touristy things in Haines – visited the Sheldon Museum, watched the afternoon feeding at the American Bald Eagle Foundation, wandered around the historic Fort Seward, spoke with local artist Tresham Gregg and watched totem pole carvers at work, and had an exceptional time at the Hammer Museum chatting with their summer intern. I ate marvelous fish’n’chips by the harbor and munched pastries from the Rusty Compass Coffeehouse while hoping the clouds would clear enough to see the mountains, but alas. I also missed out on seeing a brown/grizzly bear all trip… So I will just have to come back here some day (hopefully sooner than later).

I boarded the evening ferry to Juneau and missed out on all the scenery in the rain. What would have been a peaceful and relaxing ride turned into a social adventure when I was inadvertently befriended by Marc, an eccentric motorcyclist/math teacher from Austin who talked me in to playing dice with his other new friends. After the last of my Canadian currency (and, with much laughter, a bear-shaped shower token for Denali NP I had been given weeks ago) was gambled away, I went to the snack bar – the only place on the boat with enough light to read. Marc found me in the snack bar and told me all kinds of crazy stories about biking, like the time he accidentally went to Burning Man after running out of gas in the middle of the desert. We ate PB&Js and then the boat docked and I got off to meet Chuck and Rebecca who were so kindly waiting for me at the port to take me to their house.

59: I slept like a rock, and then slept in until my bladder would let me sleep no more, ate breakfast, and went back to bed. After second breakfast, laundry and a trip to pick up a bike box, we set off for the Mendenhall Glacier and went for a beautiful six-mile hike through temperate rainforest with views of the glacier and Nugget Falls. I was very grateful to Rebecca for lending me her old hiking boots (only having brought flats for off-the-bike) which kept my feet warm and dry while hiking up a trail that resembled wading up a Colorado creek.

On the way back from our hike, we stopped at the mouth of Salmon Creek, where the chums were beginning to run. The fish were so abundant that Chuck waded right in and picked one up with his hands – but I learned you don’t eat the old salmon who are running and ready to die – they are mushy and taste fishy. Birds were swarming, plucking out the eyes, and dead fish littered the banks. It was actually kind of gross. Next we stopped at the hatchery and watched the salmon trying to get up the fish ladders. Turns out the ones in the holding tank at the top get turned in to cat food after their sperm and eggs have been collected.

Rebecca made lasagna, and since we had such a great Harry Potter geek-out on the trail, we watched the first movie.

60: It turns out my friend Bev from a Girl Scout trip 10 years ago now lives in Juneau, so we met up downtown and had a great time confusing the shopkeepers and tour salesmen in our quality raingear and Bev in her XtraTufs(local footwear of choice) acting touristy but standing out from the cruise-ship customers like sore thumbs. We wandered around, ate by the docks, and had a genuinely fun time. Bev had to return home, and I rounded out my day at the city museum, before returning to Chuck and Rebecca’s to play a frustrating and dirty game of bike-box Tetris.

61: Slept in, finished packing, went to airport. The end!