Juneau is not only the state capital of Alaska, at 32,000 it’s the largest city we’ve been in since Prince George – and that was 5 weeks ago! Cristine Crooks and her husband Dean Guaneli came to Juneau 35 years ago and have witnessed the city double it’s population and observed significant reduction of the Mendenhall glacier since they arrived. The population can increase by an additional 15,000 per day due to the large number of cruise ships that visit the city. When we’ve ventured to the tourist area of the city, we found 2 – 5 cruise ships in the harbor. As Cristine said, “That stresses all of our infrastructure!”.Cristine not only joined me for two additional painting adventures, but she and her husband also invited Dave & I over for dinner to share a meal with them and their friends Paul and Mary Pat.
All four of these friends came to Juneau many years ago and have invested their time and talents significantly in their community. But what a unique community to live! Bears, whales, wolves, ravens, beavers, salmon, harbor seals and sea lions are generally not found in Columbus, Ohio – except at our award winning zoo. Cristine told the story about how a mother raven dropped off her baby on their patio table everyday for a few hours while she went to feed. The first day, Cristine was on patio reading a book. The baby would wander around the table and then go to sleep until Mom came back.They visited daily for a week!The evening was cut short by our curfew – yes – the Mendenhall Glacier Campground closes their gate at 10:00pm and we arrived at the entrance with 10 minutes to spare. Before we left, Paul asked me, “So this gig you’ve got – you get to go around the country, meet artists, and get free meals, too? That’s pretty neat!” I definitely agree with him – we shared a great meal, made new friends and learned a lot about Juneau. How cool is that?