Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Juneau, ya know?

I'm all packed for tomorrow and the house is reasonably clean. The cats were running around frantically as I took away the things they sit and sleep upon. I also left a three page instruction manual for my wonderful cat-sitter who will be here throughout. I think Pumpkin pissed him off last year by "christening some of his stuff." I have bought "cat grass" hoping that will help with her digestion. Sometimes I think she believes she's in a competition with someone -- like an Olympic event.

Can I also complain that it is wicked humid today?

Okay, back to non-humid, cool Alaska. After a half day in Ketchikan, we left port around 1:00 and headed for Juneau (which is the state capital for you geography buffs -- are all following me on the map?). Again, the next morning, I wake up to a beautiful sight:
You can see that other cruise ships have headed into town. Well, we split up for our tours (we can do more damage that way). My sister and niece went whale watching. Mom and I went on a tour of a rainforest. Surprised? Yes, it was a temperate rain forest and very beautiful.
We lucked out by going later in the day because we were a tour of four as opposed to the usual busload. Our partners for the day was a rather taciturn couple from Perth. Turns out our tour guide who took us in a golf cart up the side of a mountain was going to spend a semester in Perth, surfing. That's what I like about all the summer kids who come to Alaska to make some money. They are all a well-scrubbed, shiny-faced, let's go climb that sheer rock face lot. Makes me feel my age.

Our guide pointed out many amusing ways one can die in the wilderness which I greatly appreciated. Though my mother looks like peaches and sunshine, she has a dark streak. When we did the obligatory practice drill for if the boat hits an iceberg or something, we gathered at our meeting area with our life jackets. When told how to jump off the boat (don't jump, rather, step off), my mother commented that the water would kill you anyway so what's the point of doing all this anyway?

Back to the tour. I learned some interesting facts. Like, when bears wander into the town and get in trouble or keep coming back, they are sent to an island where all the bad bears live together (sorta like Battle Royale with the furry set). I also learned that when a bear comes out of hibernation, they eat a lot of skunk cabbage (they need something, as my guide put it, "to pull the trigger."). But don't try this at home, because it will kill you. See that weed -- it's called "Devil's Club" and it will make you wish you were dead if you get caught hiking in it.

I also learned from our lovely tourbus girl two stories. One was about a sea lion who had discovered a fish farm and gorged himself. He wandered off and took a nice snooze right in the middle of the road. Since these guys can weigh half a ton, they had to re-route traffic around him until he decided to wake up and waddle off.

I also learned why there is a statue of pelicans in front of it (and for those of you keeping score at home, there are no pelicans in Alaska). The Juneau folks had ordered the appropriate eagle statue for the capital -- and believe me you can't throw a ball without hitting a bald eagle there (and then go to jail because they are protected and a national symbol). At the same time, Florida put in their order for a statue of Pelicans from the same business. They switched them. Florida kept the eagles and Juneau had to settle for the Pelicans. Now, mind you, I did not see the state capital and the pelicans and on more than one occasion did I hear contradictory information from guides so take everything I write with a grain of salt.

And then after all this, we went shopping. Mom bought a bear.


K. A. Laity said...

And how did she get that home?!

I love the Bear Battle Royale.

Amazing sights! Wow -- that must have been breathtaking to wake up to such sights in the dangerous wilderness. I can so hear your mom saying that! Tee hee.

Here's to sea lions at the all-you-can-eat buffet ("Does this sea lion look like he's had all he could eat?"

Cranky Yankee said...

Yeah, everybody in this office is asking the same thing...how'd she get it home?

My co-worker who is a bear freak (like I'm a cat freak), loves the bear and wants it.

Wendy said...

She didn't really buy it. Twas a joke. But wouldn't it have been fun? A lot of places have giant stuffed animals in front of it to encourage people to stop and take a pic.

K. A. Laity said...

Ha ha -- I figured. SO have you arrived safely in L.A.? Do you have a tan yet? Tee hee!