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Fresh Air

It is raining. It is wonderful.

Some of my nicest weather days in Charleston has been where it’s rained a little – not a massive thunderstorm, but a pleasant warm rain that cools the air down, removes the humidity and allows you to breath again without this feeling that a sackful of pollen was clogging up your lungs somewhere.

Stepping out of my cheap (but clean, and functional) motel this morning, a bizarre smell hits my nose. It’s air – clean air! Clean, crisp, fresh and rainy air that is wonderful to consume. So I stop, happy to get wet for a moment and breath it all in. Sunshine is seriously overrated sometimes, y’know?

I head downtown. I’m having a lazy day of just checking out the local facilities and don’t feel like doing any 10 mile treks today. I’ve even scaled back on my geocache hunt. I just want to see what it would be like to be an arriving tourist on a cruise ship in town.

Juneau thrives on its tourists. Between April and October, the cruise ships all stop off here dumping off several hundred people sometimes just for a few hours, sometimes overnight, and the local businesses thrive because of it. There are three ocean liners docked today – but what the hell do they do during the winter months when nobody stops by?

The small 31,000 population must get a little claustrophobic. Juneau is road-locked. You can only get here by sea or air. I’ve already driven as far west as you can go and as far east as you can go. It took about ninety minutes from one end to another.

People apparently drop out of school early here. People want to get out and escape to the rest of the world. The city built a new high school recently, except they’ve now got no students to fill it with.

Commercialisation has crept in – slowly. Walmart only arrived here a year ago. The two McDonald’s are a recent addition too. Unlike other liberal minded people, there was apparently a sense of relief to get a McDonalds because it made them feel ‘more like’ the rest of the USA, and on opening day there was a queue of people to get in. Woah! That sounds more like the USSR then the USS of A.

I pop into McD’s to use a bit of of their Wi-Fi (trouble with the ‘net connection in my hotel). Lots of SUV’s pull up, choking gas at almost five bucks a gallon (AK has the highest gas prices in the land, along with Hawaii), and bearded blokes with hats and raincoats come in and order two Big Macs at a time.

A few minutes later, four big-bearded-fishermen types across the table from me start to pray. They’re saying Grace – in a McDonalds. It’s a little surreal.

I step back outside into the moist cool fresh air, and head off for the historic downtown district. I pass plenty of gift shops. A T-Shirt in a window catches my eye – “A quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem”. If you’re not employed in local government matters here, you either work in a restaurant or you’re a fisherman.

I loop round the whole downtown – it doesn’t take long, and find myself back where the boats come in. There are seaplanes here too – taking off and landing on a fairly regular basis. And the low cloud & mist rolls in making for a spectacular backdrop.

This is a nice – but different – kinda town.

8 responses to “Fresh Air”

  1. geofftech says:

    [1] I am well aware that the USSR ceased to be in the early 1990’s. Artistic license for my blog, so hands off.

    [2] There is no Starbucks here. Yet.

  2. Geoff's Mum says:

    While you were writing this, I was watching Ewan & Charlie getting to Alaska on the T.V.,it looks a fabulous place now there’s a coincidence. Fishermen, yes, there’s a T.V. programme about ‘The Fisherman’ who brave it out in the Bering Sea, it is shown in the USA & UK. Don’t fancy it myself, too cold.

  3. Dan says:

    Very nice. I was wondering what you were going to be doing in Alaska.

    I’m back to work today, and every few minutes I look over at that dark studio and I get mad. Happy for you, of course, and yes, I’m right behind you — but that dark studio has become quite a symbol for me this morning.

  4. Hey you are almost in my time zone! Have fun in your travels. I bet your accent “really” stand out there! 🙂

  5. Dan says:

    Looks like my day is Aug. 22.

    BTW, I just read your resignation letter. Whoa.

  6. geofftech says:

    Dan,

    i’ll catch up with you when i’m back in CHS (Friday). the dark studio (sounds like a batman film), my letter, your day (woah!). everything. i’ll even let you know what my plan is. ah yes, THE PLAN -> insert evil laughter here <- still eternally grateful that you got me in, in the first place, tho. happy days. *sigh* G.

  7. Shon K! says:

    Hi Geoff,

    It’s 8:42am. I’m at work. I haven’t really been…sufficiently motivated to check my work e-mails yet. I have to be here ‘til 5…I thought I’d pace myself. Delighted to read your blog. It all sounds so deliciously quaint!

    What’s the club scene like?? 🙂 I’m thinking a mix of folk/techno/bluegrass/house???

    Slightly drizzly days in Charleston are my favorite too. We’re on track to have a nice one today actually. I think I may start a collection of pictures of the bridge from Waterfront Park on cloudy days now that I work a block away.

    Enjoy your trip!

  8. geofftech says:

    i can safely say that i haven’t ventured into any clubs whilst i’ve been here. i’ve been tucked up in bed by 11pm most nights … save for one night when i went drinking. no really! i’m on VACATION, taking it niiiice and easy, and slowly, and it’s lovely.

    i hear a storm is brewing to blow into town just in time of me getting back .. !

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