The last day we were in Juneau, Kyle was giving wedding guests free zip line tours. I am over the weight limit the company imposes, so I spent the morning walking around the downtown Juneau area.
You win some, you lose some — I hadn’t gotten the chance to take my camera for a walk the day before, so I was glad of the opportunity to do so, even though the rain made photography interesting. In retrospect, I’m glad I was unable to take the zip line tour. I may be unwilling to go on dangerous urbex excursions to the top of condemned and half-fallen-apart buildings, but exploring active urban areas and standing outside the dangerous ones is entirely up my alley.
Speaking of alleys, check out this one:
That’s right, folks, it has a street sign and a mailbox. And if you look up the alley itself, all you see is a staircase going straight up the mountain side.
About halfway up on the right-hand side is the door to someone’s residence — hence the mail box and the street sign. I climbed this crazy alley staircase, and about 3/4 of the way up I came across a local standing on his porch smoking a cigarette. His house was just across a walkway intersecting the staircase to run horizontally across the mountain, providing access to a row of houses built there. When I asked him if the staircase was the only access to these houses, he laughed and told me that if I kept going up, I’d reach a road running along the other side of them. It was he who told me that there are several staircases labeled as streets in Juneau, to provide physical addresses for the occasional house stuck between streets on the mountain side.
He also told me that when I reached the street at the top, I could turn left and the street would eventually wind back around to downtown. If I went right, I’d hit a dead end at a trail leading up to an abandoned mine. The mine is cool enough for its own post; I’m officially no longer sure when I’ll run out of Juneau material. Right now, I’m inclined to say this is the second to last… but that would make it the third or fourth time in a row that I’ve said that, so I’ll just move on to pictures taken when I headed left.
Around the Corner
I believe this was spray-painted by the people living at the dead end, since there’s really no good way to turn around there. Under my feet when I took this picture was a patch of gravel suitable for turning around just fine. I wonder how many people actually heed the graffiti.
This residential area was high enough above downtown for me to take this lovely shot.
Ruins in Town
One thing I like about Juneau is the mixture of new and ruined buildings. Right next to the parking area from which I took the above picture was an abandoned building with broken windows all over and some crazy fire damage on the other side.
Farther along the street was a beautiful wall standing in ruins on the uphill side of the street.
Beautiful in its own way, Juneau is far from what most Americans consider the ideal living environment. Throughout the residential area, I saw signs of people making the best of the cramped, rainy environment in which they live. From brightly colored houses to tiny gardens, the non-tourist areas of Juneau have a cozy character that I doubt most visitors take the time to notice.
Juneau may be dreary, but its inhabitants know how to play, whether you fancy skateboard parks or playgrounds.
I saw this from the road within 15 minutes of our arrival in Juneau. I visited it with Bob and Shannon; it’s part of the playground for an elementary school. If I were a giant, I would make it my attack die!
Another playground visible from the main road is called Project Playground. The whole place is nine kinds of fun.
Lots of things to climb, structures painted with different themes, some nifty obstacle course type stuff. The ground is coated with chunks of rubber-like stuff, as if someone tore up the red floor of a multipurpose room and used the chunks on the playground. Pleasant to run on, pleasant to fall on, and visually attractive. The ground retained good traction in spite of the rain, and I was able to go barefoot on it without discomfort.
There were plaques all over the place honoring the donors that made the park possible. I got no pictures of those, but I did get pictures of the awesome signs that were posted.
As this is already too long, downtown Juneau will have to wait. I knew this wasn’t going to be second-to-last. Le sigh. More pictures of Juneau proper — including downtown Juneau — can be found in this album on Flickr.