I grew up here, and I travel, but Alaska has given my heart roots. Our home is Southeast Alaska, both Juneau and Petersburg. The landscape that surrounds us is dominated by towering trees, ocean, islands, and snowy mountains- wait- did I mention rain? Lots of rain = lush forest. Early family adventures immersed in the landscape shaped me.
I have spent many summers guiding tours and a common question is, “What do people do for fun around here?” We make our own fun and it generally fits into two categories: adventures in the landscape and time with people.
Communities in southeast are points of civilization in the midst of the Tongass National Forest. Harvesting from the forests or ocean is a common pastime. In the ocean, you can catch 5 kinds of salmon, halibut, crab, rockfish, shrimp, flounder, trout, and more. The muskegs and forests grow a variety of edible berries including: cran, huckle, nagoon and cloudberries. We go hiking and occasionally rent the forest service cabins sprinkled through the region (because typically it is too wet to enjoy tent camping in the rainforest). Of course, usually you go on these adventures with someone… so you could say- it’s all about the people.
Pure socializing is mainly done in the late fall and winter, when the light has disappeared and people have long dark hours to fill. When the days start getting short potlucks are common. In fact, cooking and sharing special dishes (often with local ingredients or cultural relevance) is a highlight of the season. Food is better shared and one can only watch so many movies! In the summer, everyone is taking advantage of the light and temperature to work or play outdoors.