Yesterday, at Whole Foods, I started talking to a very nice woman, a visitor from Alaska’s State Capital. She commented on the variety of produce and the difference in prices for certain items, between New York and Juneau. Soon her husband joined us with a cart full of fresh veggies and fruits and they told me, that they are both doctors who were invited from Eastern USA to work in downtown Juneau, fell in love with the place and now are returning to the big apple to visit their parents and siblings.
We got to talking about what it felt like to go from here to Alaska, and both said the place has a magic all it’s own, with highly active lifestyle and natural beauty in abundance. The woman told me that when arrived in Juneau by boat (they were moving cross country, furniture and all), they were told the only way to Juneau is by boat, airplane or birth canal. This expression is an ongoing jocular statement which actually reflects reality. They were in amazing shape, a fact they attributed to the outdoorsy lifestyle they are living. Every free moment is taken up hiking, mountain climbing and eating fresh fish caught by them, on their salmon and halibut fishing expeditions.
There are no roads going in or out of Juneau, making it the only state capital inaccessible by cars. All around the town is surrounded by nature, sitting snugly between Mount Juneau mount Roberts and the Gastineau Channel. I thought about the blisteringly hot and humid New York July I left behind and flew to Seattle to begin my first Alaskan cruise. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was enveloped in fresh clean air, which got cooler and more pristinely refreshing as we headed deeper into the state and it’s capital, named after prospector Joe Juneau in 1880.
When we woke up the second morning, there were dozens of mountains, and from the far distance, glistening glaciers, which grew absolutely enormous as our boat edged its way closer to the harbor. My companions and I were booked on an excursion by a float trip on the spectacular glacier studded Mendenhall lake, passed the 2 1/2 mile long Mendenhall glacier, sighted some humpback whales and a number of Kodiak bear almost close enough to touch. The city itself is fascinating, built by the gold rush, with lovely old buildings from that era. There is so much to see, just walking around on foot or taking a helicopter ride to experience the stunning beauty of the town and the surrounding jewels of nature.
The Juneau Douglass museum is a cornucopia of exhibits, relating to local history, the Indian heritage with totem poles, and a chronicle of the gold rush prospectors.
Love is the most powerful way to create profoundly tangible transformation in everyone who crosses our path. Yet we must be mindful to endow the self with pure, unconditional love and acceptance, which will result in an infinite fountain of empathy and joy, readily available to give others.