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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Transportation Terror

We are going to recap our Juneau junket in parts. The first part will cover the disappointments.

Warning: Terror Alert for this blog story is Red. The likelihood of a terrible experience is guaranteed.

As the ferry pulled into the dock, we spotted numerous busses pulling in and out of another dock just up the road. The map had shown the bus terminal to be near, but not at, the ferry terminal. We walked there and discovered it was a private dock for tours. We kept walking up the road. When we are walking, everything in Alaska seems to be just around the bend.

The bus terminal was probably about a mile away. We had to wait thirty minutes. The express bus, which went directly downtown, was supposed to arrive two minutes before the normal bus. We boarded the first bus, and then found out it was not the express. So we tried to enjoy the ride, and all the stops along the way.

The first thing about the stops is that they are not all marked on the route map or the schedule. The second thing is that, unlike the community ride in Sitka, the driver doesn't stop if no one is waiting to board, unless a rider rings the bell. The third thing about the stops is our young lady driver really enjoyed using the gas and brake to their fullest extent. All the violent starting and stopping churned our stomach and made us sick.

The stop nearest our hotel was about half a mile away. We missed the stop right in front of our hotel, because it was not indicated on the map or schedule. We had to walk back to the hotel, even passing an additional stop along the way.

Once we were settled, the task of reaching our destination began. The cab fare from hotel to ice was $35. The bus fare to the nearest stop was $1.50. So, experienced walker that we had already become, we boarded the bus. It was crowded outbound from downtown. At each stop along the way it became more crowded, until all the seats were filled and the aisle was unpassable with people standing. In order for others to get off, people in the aisles had to get off and then back on. Finally, at the transfer stop at one of the malls, the bus decongested. We continued our ride and then got off at the stop on the map that was closest to the ice. Of course, as we walked the rest of the way, we found that two more stops -- not indicated on the map or schedule -- were much closer to where we wanted to go.

On the way back from the ice, we had to run the last half-mile to the bus, because at that time of day the next service did not come for another three hours. We successfully navigated our way back to the hotel.

Our search for dinner began. We skipped the hotel restaurant to find another establishment we had seen earlier in the day. We walked into town where we thought it was, and didn't find it. We asked, and followed directions downtown for several more blocks, and didn't find it. We circled around and found no places to eat. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a local sandwich shop. It was closed. We returned to the hotel tireder and hungrier than before. We settled for the restaurant after all, which had good food at a relatively inexpensive price.

At the hotel, we discovered they offered shuttle service to the ferry terminal, but only by appointment. We immediately made an appointment for the next morning. We were glad not to have to ride the bus again. We were even more thankful we don't have to rely on mass transit in our daily lives.

We had been up at midnight to catch the ferry, and it was now after 10:00pm. So ended our longest Tuesday ever.

Next on the Juneau junket: Alaska Marine Highway.

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