Starvation Gulch 2010

UAF has many traditions, I’m sure, but the one best-known by the bulk of the student body is Starvation Gulch. Starvation Gulch occurs on a Saturday at the end of September every year, and involves a great deal of fire.

Bonfire Crowd

Six bonfires are constructed to one side of the Taku parking lot by different teams. They have to be within certain dimensions, include no spray paint, and follow a few other rules which are in place for safety reasons. The fire fighters light them on fire over the course of about 15 minutes, starting at one end, and the team whose flame burns highest gets to take the trophy home and display it proudly until next year. Continue reading

Chena Hot Springs

Ash and Patti offered to bring me and my stuff up to Fairbanks because they’d been considering a trip up to Chena Hot Springs anyway. I found the idea quite pleasing — not only is Patti’s car much younger and in much better shape than Dad’s car (he’d offered to drive me up, as well), spending the night at Chena with Ash and Patti sounded like great fun.

And it was. The road trip up was considerably less exciting than the one we took to Juneau, of course. Not only have all three of us previously traveled this road on numerous occasions, none of us are particularly fond of Fairbanks and Ash turned out not to be in the mood for a road trip anyway.

This is the first time any of us have been to Chena when grass was visible. Usually we go in winter, when the place is blanketed in snow and the only green is on the pine trees. When we decided to take our first break from the hot springs, we explored the grounds. Continue reading

Abandoned Mine

Far Left Part's Far Left Wall

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the locals in Juneau directed me to a nearby abandoned mine a short walk away from downtown. The walk was uphill, but pleasantly so, and getting there was well worth the trek. The place is sweet. Daryl and Mike told me later on the ferry ride back to Haines that when this mine was closed down, it was bombarded by fire from battleships in the harbor. To this day, there’s a lot of crumbled concrete and piles of sheet metal and other scraps laying about.

Scraps and Some Trees

I had difficulty getting crisp shots in general, and of a giant cog in the ruins in particular. You can see it in the photo below (you may have to click to view the full size version), inside the structure on the right-hand side. I really wanted a good picture of that, but I was unwilling to scrabble up the scrap — especially in the rain — to do so.

Find the Cog!

This structure was a hop and a skip up the mountain from the main path. There was a branching path leading up to it, which had an interesting plant about halfway up. I say “interesting” because I realized, once my foot was hovering in the air above it, that it was not a plant. It appeared to be cut-off steel cables sticking out of the ground.

Ferrous Flora

The only picture of this plant that came out well enough to be worth keeping is this one. Seen from the side as you go up the path, it blends in well with that grass to look like some unfamiliar, grassy plant.

Farther up the main path was a rock slide, followed by another structure of grander scale.

Rock Slide

Larger Structure

Unfortunately, there was trash by both structures. Bums had left clothing, book bags, and other crap by the first structure, while the larger structure had some pretty intensive graffiti on parts of it. In front of the larger structure, pretty much right on the trail, was what looked to be a popular spot for bonfires and beer.

Party Place


And, as is becoming common here, more pictures are up on Flickr.

Downtown Juneau

Shop Window

Downtown Juneau is tourist country. It’s as bad as Hawaii in that respect — you step off the cruise ship to face narrow streets overloaded with tiny shops catering to people with money to burn. It thins out a bit as you get away from the docks, but there’s still a tattoo parlor right around the corner from another tattoo parlor and two or three places serving gelato and coffee within five minutes of each other.


Covered Sidewalks

Don’t get me wrong; I love downtown Juneau. One of my favorite things about downtown Juneau was the coverings over the sidewalks. Color and care varied from building to building, but they all served to keep the tourists nice and dry.

A quick look up the mountain revealed clouds that looked like they were walking through the trees. They were never still.

Walking Clouds

The coolest part of downtown was the docks themselves. I didn’t go up to the rail and get any pictures of the water because there was a yellow line and a bunch of signs proclaiming that crossing it was a breach of security. Even though I was well away from the single cruise ship at port, there was someone patrolling, so I restrained myself.

The Medium-Thickness Yellow Line



I liked the effect of the moss at the bottom of the barrels. It was clinging to the fixtures attaching the barrels to the dock. It balanced out the foliage on top. I wonder how long the barrels have been there.

More pictures of downtown Juneau can be found on Flickr. This is the same album linked in the post titled Juneau Proper.

Juneau Proper

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:

Boroff Way

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. Continue reading

Hotel Halsingland

Ash, Patti, and I got into Haines near midnight. We’d spent all day driving across Canada, and since Patti had slept poorly for the previous few nights, she was tired and wanted to get a hotel room. We drove around for a bit, trying to find the best deal in town, and discovered that there was only one deal in town. We literally got the last vacant room in Haines.

Hotel Halsingland

We found it at Hotel Halsingland. In the middle of the night, it looked like the setting of a horror movie — the buildings reminded me of the houses you see in the deep south in movies set during the civil war, but they were a little worn down and the main building had a huge neon sign on it proclaiming it a hotel. It wasn’t flickering, but it was enough to give Patti a horror movie vibe. I was instantly enthralled by the place; it obviously had character, and the buildings were fascinating beneath the occasionally peeling paint. Continue reading

A Skateboard Park & The Woods

Ash, Patti, and I had some free time after breakfast and before Kyle’s wedding started. That was when we checked out RainTree Quilting. After I’d bored Ash & Patti with a lengthy visit to a quilt shop, we still had time to blow, so I suggested we go look for some Geocaches for Ash. He likes to Geocache whenever he goes to a new place, and we hadn’t gotten any done the day before.

The first Geocache we attempted to find seemed to have been purged by muggles in the few days since it had last been found. It was supposed to have been some where in or around the barrels holding up the sign for a park.

Jackie Renninger Park Sign

Before Ash narrowed the Geocache information down to the sign, we checked out the indoor skateboard park behind it, which is a city-owned and maintained facility called The Pipeline. Ha. Ha, ha. Ha. Continue reading

Changing Tides Fiber Art Shop

Changing Tides in Juneau isn’t technically a hole-in-the-wall shop, since it’s on the second floor of a building full of shops. I found it via a street-level window display.

Changing Tides Street-Level Window Display

It’s also a little bigger than what I consider hole-in-the-wall. But as it caters to cross stitching and needlepoint as well as quilting, it’s plenty cramped for one. Continue reading

RainTree Quilting

While I was in Juneau for Kyle’s wedding, I visited two quilt shops. I wanted to visit at least one, so Ash pulled up the GPS app on his iPhone and we went to the first one on the list. That was RainTree Quilting.

RainTree Quilting

RainTree Quilting is located off of Mendenhall Loop Road. A few trees separate it from the street, but the store itself has enough front windows to give the place a light, airy feel. They have a show room and a class room, with completed quilts hanging in each. The fabric selection reminds me of what Quilt Tree carries here in Anchorage, in terms of color values and the types of patterns they carry, though there were fewer oriental fabrics.

The owner was in that day, with one employee. Both were friendly and helpful; we got to chatting a bit about Anchorage quilt stores and quilt tourism in general. I may be only starting quilt store touring, but they said that people come through from all over. They were fine with me taking pictures (though many of them came out poorly). I ended up cutting both the picture taking and the chatting short, though, because Ash and Patti were demonstrating signs of boredom, eventually retreating to the car.

I’ve decided that I will get a fat quarter of some green fabric and a yard of something else nifty from each quilt store I visit in my travels. From RainTree Quilting, I took away a bright green fat quarter with a scratchy/speckly pattern and a dark blue batique with a dog sledding pattern on it. It’s possible I could have gotten that same batique from The Quilted Raven in Anchorage, but I wasn’t sure and it really appealed to me while I was there.

Fabric Purchased at RainTree Quilting

I found my visit to RainTree Quilting a pleasant experience, and recommend the place highly. More pictures can be found on Flickr.

The Shrine of St. Therese

Visitors park, then walk to the shrine itself. It's an easy walk, acceptable for the elderly and infirm.

Visitors park, then walk to the shrine itself.

I attended my friend Kyle’s wedding in Juneau, Alaska on Friday. It was held at the Shrine of St. Therese, in a simple Catholic chapel perched on one of the loveliest spots I’ve ever seen. I strongly recommend visiting it if you’re in Juneau. (Edit: Kyle’s left some more information about the shrine in the comments. You should check it out, as he answers some of my ponderments.)

The shrine is located outside of Juneau proper, about a half hour drive from the Westmark hotel in downtown. Take the main road past the ferry dock and the airport and Lake Auke and eventually you come to a labeled turn-off on the left. There’s a parking lot there, and you enter the shrine grounds on foot. It’s an easy walk, acceptable for the elderly and infirm.

Almost as soon as you leave the parking lot on the short, well-tended trail, you see buildings with log cabin exteriors. Judging by the restrooms, these buildings probably all had modern interiors.

A Log Cabin Building

Firewood Under Shelter

The path branches in three directions. To your left the path leads to some gardens (which I ended up missing out on); to the right, there is a “mystical love labyrinth” and farther along is a colombarium. The path directly in front of you is an arrow-straight walkway leading to a small, wooded island. Continue reading