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.
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 over the course of about 15 minutes, starting at one end. Whichever team whose flame burns highest gets to take the trophy home and display it proudly until next year.
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.
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 this mine was bombarded by fire from battleships in the harbor when they closed it. To this day, there’s a lot of crumbled concrete and piles of sheet metal and other scraps laying about.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. The first one on the list was 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.
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.
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.