Monday, April 30, 2012

It Sometimes Rains in Juneau

           When I tell people I’m from the Seattle area I often hear, “it rains a lot there doesn’t it?”
“True,” I reply. “But it’s a dry rain.”
In Southeast Alaska it rains a lot but it’s a wet rain!
As we sailed north it rained in Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg. We now sit in Juneau and the rain continues, full throttle.
By some standards it doesn’t rain that much in Southeast. Juneau averages just 58 inches annually compared to 75 inches out west on Kodiak Island (where we are headed!) But, compared to this area, Seattle seems positively parched at a mere 37 inches annually.
On the ferry north we visited with a couple from Petersburg who gave me a hint of their weather pattern.
“Do you have “city” water at your home?” I asked.
Motor cycle in the rain. Note fisherman in background

“No, we have a cistern and collect water from our roof,” was the reply.
“How about in the summer, when it’s dry?”
He smiled politely. “We never run short.”
Enough said.
The interesting thing is, it doesn’t matter. Of course it rains; get over it. And get over it they do. They don’t complain or seem to let it get in the way of their activities. They just dress for the weather and get on with things.
Rainy Walk @ Mendenhall Glacier

While I filled up at a Juneau gas station a motor cycle rolled in with the driver clad in rubber boots, jeans and a good raincoat. Never mind the wind that was pushing the rain. Nearby (see photo) two guys, similarly clad, were preparing their skiff for a little fishing. Rain? Dress for it and go!
After lunch we did a short hike—in the rain—at the nearby Mendenhall Glacier and ran into entire families, hoods up, jackets zipped and boots on, enjoying the same trail.
It’s what you do if you want to live in Southeast Alaska.
Monday morning we will again board a ferry and sail north, three hours to Haines. Current Haines forecast: Rain!

Kathy and Steve at Juneau's Red Dog Saloon

A Word About Juneau: Juneau is the capital of Alaska, isolated from the rest of the state and assessable only by boat or plane. Between the state government, fishing and tourists, it is a busy place, particularly in the summer. A popular cruise ship destination it can handle several ships at once with enough jewelry, tee shirt and souvenir shops to handle the throngs. The cruise ship flood will begin the first week of May and the merchants are stocking their shelves to meet the rush.  

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