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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Juneau, Alaska‏

June 1st, 2011 · 5 Comments

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Returning Friday to Juneau for the third time was a further extension of my trip to Alaska this year. A fabulous cruise through the Inside Passage was the main event, followed by an optional extension by train from Juneau to Skagway and on to Carcross, Yukon Territory. Most of my fellow tourists made that extension, but only my friend Parkie and I stayed for an extra two days in Juneau.

That stay gave me the opportunity to see a lot more of Alaska’s capital city. Here is a typical street:

Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

Click on the picture above to enlarge

But Juneau isn’t a typical city. Besides being the state’s capital, this small town of 31,000 residents nestled between the Inside Passage and glaciers on the Canadian border, is a tourist mecca. Unlike the small group of 31 of us, they come en masse on huge cruise ships. The local newspaper carries the names and number of passengers in port each day, and one day I read that four ships carrying more than 10,000 people were visiting. The people on those ships overwhelm the city, and the ships dominate its skyline. Here is one example:

A Holland-America Liner on the Right and Juneau's Parking Garage/Library on the Left

A Holland-America Liner on the Right and Juneau's Parking Garage/Library on the Left

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Juneau’s biggest attraction for most people seems to be its well-known Red Dog Saloon. While I am not much of a drinker, I made the obligatory visit.

The Red Dog Saloon was Always Packed When a Cruise Ship was in Town

The Red Dog Saloon was Always Packed When a Cruise Ship was in Town

Click on the picture above to enlarge

But the two experiences I wanted most in Juneau were both a little out of town. Each experience gave me the chance to take yet another mode of transportation.

I took a city bus for the first time since I lived and worked in Washington, D.C., in the 1960s and 70s. Juneau is a long, thin city, lending itself well to bus transportation, and they have an excellent system that is a real Alaska bargain, just $1.50 to ride anywhere. I took the express route from the city toward the airport to visit an art gallery that my friend John had written me about.

“If you have a chance to go to the Rie Muñoz gallery, it is worth a visit,” he told me. “She is one of Alaska’s most important painters, and to see her originals could be a treat.”

Probably Alaska’s most famous artist, she is Dutch-American raised in California, but has lived in Alaska since 1951, as her website says:

In 1951 Muñoz was planning a vacation. Looking at a map, she randomly drew a line from her home in California to the farthest point she could visit on her limited budget. She opted to go to Alaska, traveling up the Inside Passage by steamship, and fell in love with Juneau. She gave herself one day — until the boat was scheduled to depart — to find a job and a place to live. She landed a newspaper job, and Alaska has been home to Muñoz ever since.

She is now 89 and still living and working in Alaska. I expect the state will have a big celebration party for her within a year.

On my Island Spirit cruise I read two books about her and studied her paintings. But as John told me, to see the real thing was special. She works in several media, but her characteristic subjects are often little Eskimo girls, as in this stained glass:

A Girl and a Bird

A Girl and a Bird

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I carefully looked through all of her prints that the gallery offers. One of them meant so much to be that I bought it:

Peaceable Alaska, the Print I Purchased

Peaceable Alaska, the Print I Purchased

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Rie Muñoz wrote this on her website about this painting:

I created this image after Edward Hicks, an early American Quaker minister and painter. He painted a large number of paintings of the same subject, which he called the “Peaceable Kingdom,” inspired by the lines from Isaiah, 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid…and a little child shall lead them.” I thought it would be fun to do a “Peaceable Alaska.”

Visiting the Rie Muñoz gallery was the highlight of my penultimate full day in Alaska. The literal highlight of the trip came the next day.

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Posted in: Alaska, Photography

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bob Guetzlaff // Jun 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Dave, all these pictures and not a one of your “ship”!

  • 2 David Mendosa // Jun 20, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Dear Bob,

    An excellent point. I will have to add one!

    David

  • 3 David Mendosa // Jun 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Dear Bob,

    I just checked, and I do have a photo of our ship the “Island Spirit.” It’s in an earlier photo essay, “Fun in the Fjord” at http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/?p=7749

    David

  • 4 Gwen // Jul 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Bob -
    I live in Sitka, AK and have never heard of a train that goes from Juneau to Skagway, only a slow boat ride or short flight is the normal connection.

    Gwen

  • 5 David Mendosa // Jul 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Dear Gwen,

    You are right. I should have written this:

    Returning Friday to Juneau for the third time was a further extension of my trip to Alaska this year. A fabulous cruise through the Inside Passage was the main event, followed by an optional extension by speedboat from Juneau to Skagway and by train on to Carcross, Yukon Territory.

    Will fix. I appreciate your catching this!

    David

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