I lived in Juneau for a school year when I was studying marine biology, at the University of Alaska Southeast. I also worked there, as a CA (what every other University calls an RA), so I got to know the people I lived on campus with well (maybe too well…).
So it was fun to go back and see the changes in nearly a decade, like a great little walking path by the lake on campus.
I lived on campus and walked through the rain forest, with a view of Mendenhall Glacier half way there, and frequent views of Black Bears, to campus on a beautiful lake. Can’t get much better than that!
Above is a pic of Auke Lake on campus. It’s actually funny how I ended up here… I decided overnight I wanted to work with marine mammals and looked up marine biology programs. I was a history major (after changing from an anthropology major), Sophomore year, and had gotten a job as an RA on the Anchorage campus. I also had a job as a caregiver in an adult family home that was full time during the summer (though switching my days and nights while doing three day shifts and two night shifts every week, while also picking up babysitting hours and Alaskan tourism hours slepping luggage at all hours at the airport, may have contributed to my decision making).
Basically overnight I transferred Universities and RA jobs (for that I basically just told them I got hired in Anchorage and they hired me there) and put in my notice at the adult family home. If memory serves it was a month ish later I was driving from Anchorage, through Canada, to Skagway, to take the ferry to Juneau with my car full of stuff.
It wasn’t until we landed and I drove off the ferry that I realized I had no idea where to go.
There was a sign that said “end of the road” pointing left and “Juneau” to the right so I turned right and soon saw a UAS bookstore. I asked them for directions and got to campus just fine and at that point realized not only should I have looked up where I was moving to but also actually spoken with someone on the phone to confirm my employment and living space (since those are tied together). Thankfully when I checked in at the Lodge they seemed to know why I was there, and that began a very eventful year (both good and bad) in Southeast Alaska.
After walking campus and visiting a friend who still lives here (who was one of my freshman and now runs the freshman program, woot woot, now in a fancy freshman building on campus, instead of in a rain forest a long walk away) another friend picked us up (a fellow marine bio major who didn’t go into marine bio either) to stay at his house.
That evening we went to Mendenhall Glacier and hiked to Nugget Falls (a flat hike, but that was just fine for this trip).
The next day we went out on Allen Major Marine Whale Watching. I’d done this during orientation and ever since then wanted to go back. I’ve never been somewhere more naturally beautiful and we saw tons of whales and seals and sea lions then and now.
We saw lots of whale flukes (the tails). I specify the whale part because, fun fact, someone thought it would be a great idea (hint: it’s not) for UAS students to be called Flukes. First, that doesn’t make for a great mascot if we ever got a basketball team and Second, who wants to be called a fluke?!
I’ll pretend that’s why I went back to being a Seawolf (though really, what’s that? Mascot is a Husky. Actually, now it’s known to be real, google it!) my Senior Year though honestly it’s just because I could sign up for the classes I needed to graduate on time with a biology degree (I was always at 17-19 credits every semester since I love learning AND changed majors every year but you can only sign up for what’s offered, and they didn’t offer what classes I needed to graduate on time no matter how hard I was willing to work).
That evening I got to see my (mostly marine bio, all nerds in a good way) friends who still live in Juneau and catch up over dinner and apple pie.
The next day we went downtown (which I rarely did when I lived there because most of its boarded outside summer when the cruise ship tourists are gone) and got chocolate and walked around downtown aimlessly by the water
And went to see the new giant whale statue, and flew home.
On the way back our beautiful clear skies turned into the Smokey haze as we got closer to Seattle.
That’s actually the culprit in the pic below, the fire in Canada, with the white puffs above the large fire and the gray smoke going to the right.
There was a haze over the beautiful mountains then…
Quickly you couldn’t see anything at all.
So much smoke! I wish I’d packed some of the Juneau skies with me on the way home.