Land, Sea, and Ice: Juneau, Alaska
Man, is it hard to get anything done during summertime in Alaska. My house is a graveyard of abandoned projects, because who can be productive when there are hours of daylight and miles of trails waiting?
In a flash, Juneau has gone from an unfamiliar dot on a map to the home I’ve been looking for. It’s like I’ve found a kindred spirit in its moody, endless wildness. Rain or shine (but mostly rain), I’m captivated by even its smallest moments: fog moving through tree tops in the forest behind my house, or the white flash of an eagle’s tail as it swoops a few feet from my office window. For a person who claims to never fully settle in one spot, I’ve got a dirty secret: I want to stay.
As someone who has spent a significant amount of time sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor to avoid buying furniture, I’m not much the type to put roots down. I’m the ready-to-leave-whenever type, with borrowed furniture and plastic bins, suitcases always handy. So I’ve been as bewildered as anyone to discover a strange new sensation of not looking for an escape route since arriving in Juneau. Some combination of having a job I love and finding a place that suits me has me buying furniture and hanging things on walls like there’s no tomorrow (and don’t get me started on the rate my plant collection is growing).
Juneau doesn’t compare to anywhere I’ve lived before. Like a well kept secret, the soggy, rainforest weather keeps most of the world out, aside from the multiple thousands of cruise ship visitors that flood in for the summer. But wait out the rain, and the reward is indescribable. Each day as I drive to work, the incandescent blues of the Mendenhall Glacier with its crown of peaks greets me. Rays of light fall across tree cover islands out dotting the ocean to a backdrop of distant mountain peaks. Where else in the world is it not uncommon for eagles to cut power across town by dropping scrap metal and fish on power lines?
End to end, there are less than 50 miles of road in Juneau. It might seem claustrophobic to some with no opportunities to escape by car. But where the pavement ends is where Juneau is truly is at its best. By bike, on foot, boat, or in a plane- the mountain peaks and snowfields and lakes are out there waiting. You just have to get there.
“Time can be slowed if you live deliberately. If you stop and watch sunsets. If you spend time sitting on porches listening to the woods. If you give in to the reality of the seasons.”
— Thomas Christopher Greene, I’ll Never Be Long Gone