State Flower: Forget Me Not
So in thinking for an emblem
For this Empire of the North
We will choose this azure flower
That the golden days bring forth,
For we want men to remember
That Alaska came to stay
Though she slept unknown for ages
And awakened in a day.
So although they say we’re living
In the land that God forgot,
We’ll recall Alaska to them
With our blue Forget-me-not.
Esther Birdsall Darling, 1917
State Bird: Willow Ptarmigan
Alaska! And our half way point through the capitals! During our research on how to get to Juneau, we discovered that this capital city can only be accessed by air or sea. Which meant either taking Sunnie by ferry, or leaving her behind briefly and flying just the humans. Flying the four of us in a plane ended up being the cheaper option, believe it or not. We drove into Seattle, WA and actually spent the night in the Park and Fly parking lot. The next morning, we called the office and the shuttle came to our front door to get us and take us to the airport. Not too shabby! To make it an even sweeter trip, my dad flew up from Memphis to meet us there. He can only stand to be away from his granddaughters for a so long before he has to track us down and reconnect with us on the road. He is the absolute BEST PopPop and we all adore him.
When we landed, my dad was waiting at the airport for us and we went to find a place to eat some lunch. We decided to eat at Gold Creek Salmon Bake, and then walked an easy trail along a stream that lead to a waterfall at the end. The food was pretty good, but the music and atmosphere made it even better. We spoke with a hostess there that gave us insight on where to eat with the locals in the future. It was her birthday, so naturally we erupted into song and sang happy birthday to her!
How gorgeous is this?
After our bellies were full, we headed to check into the hotel where we were staying. The Silverbow Inn was right in the heart of downtown Juneau. It was super quaint, but also a little modern. It was absolutely perfect for us.
The highlight for us all was of course, the salmon fishing! We went out with two fishing guides, Captain Troy and Captain Chris from Rum Runners Charters. He was hilarious and knowledgeable, and he knew where to catch the big ones! We ended up catching the MOST and BIGEEST fish of the captain’s entire fishing season. Guess who caught the largest of them all? Miss Harper, of course, and she reeled it in all by herself. She insisted, and she persisted. Chris helped her hold the rod, but she did all the hard work herself. Captain said because she was so patient and reeled it in so slow and steady, that the fish never knew he was on the line until he was in the net. He also told us that if he had even tried to reel it in, he was SO big, he would have easily broken free. Great job, Harper! We now quote the captain, because when we asked him just how big that fish was, his eyes got big, and he said, “He’s frickin’ HUUUUGE.” Ask any of us to impersonate him, it’s basically comedy gold.
Captain Troy took us to see some endangered steller sea lions that hang out at this favorite buoy. Thankfully there was a little break in the fog and we were able to see them very clearly.
The sky was blue and the air chilly when we left the dock aboard the Buccaneer, but then the fog started closing in on us, and we couldn’t see a thing! Here’s a before and after of the dock.
The next day was gorgeous! Everyone kept telling us that Juneau gets about 15 sunny days per year and we were catching the majority of them.
The main thing we had to see was the capitol building! We chatted it up with the Chief Justice of the Alaskan Supreme Court, Craig Stowers for a while in the lobby of our little hotel before we knew who exactly he was! He was such a fascinating man, a former Park Ranger, and had hiked Denali in his younger years. We’re then told by the front desk, that’s just how Alaska is. Everyone is open, friendly and unpretentious. My dad had never been to ANY capitol building before, so it was cool that he got to be with us for the half way point of our capitol collecting tour through the US!
Out in front of the capitol building is this statue of William Seward. It is because of this secretary of state that Alaska is part of the US. When asked what his greatest achievement was, he answered, “The purchase of Alaska, though it will take a generation to realize it.” He often went with his gut, instead of not always following along with what his peers were in favor of. People thought he was crazy for his idea, and actually referred to the purchase of Alaska as “Seward’s Folly” for many years. There are so many natural resources that make Alaska valuable, that the residents of the state get paid dividends each year.
Some of the other highlights were the halibut fish and chips at this little dive called Sandbar & Grill, simply the best ever fish and chips any of us had ever had. We walked in, and everyone knew we weren’t local. We went to another dive place Douglas Cafe’ (twice!) that had delicious clam chowder. We spotted almost 20 bald eagles- they are everywhere! We also visited Mendenhall Glacier. We met a sweet lady and her twin boys while we were at the town playground with our girls. She is a singer and we tried to go see her live later in the week, but our kids weren’t allowed to stay, so we all left. I can’t wait to go back and see more of the great state of Alaska. We made so many wonderful memories on this trip that we will speak of for many years to come. We love you, Alaska.