Story last updated at 9/9/2009 - 11:36 am
Maybe we were just relieved to get some non-political national press, but last week it seemed that everyone in town was talking about the Aug. 30 New York Times travel article, "36 Hours in Juneau," by Cornelia Dean.
Many local favorites got recognized: The Alaskan Bar and Hotel, Perseverance Theatre, William Spear Designs, the Mendenhall Glacier. And our former national claim to fame, Sarah Palin, only got a passing mention, in regards to her shopping at Shoefly & Hudsons.
Especially at a time when the tourism industry is increasingly concerned about the future, this kind of publicity is quite welcome.
"The true marketing value of the article is immeasurable," wrote the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau in their monthly e-newsletter.
But after the initial thrill of our friendly national coverage died down a bit, some of us started quibbling (me included). Did someone really need to buy Xtratufs for two short hikes? If you've bought the boots and are going to the glacier anyway, shouldn't you hike out to the ice caves? Shouldn't there be some mention of fishing? And so on.
But finally, I stopped complaining. I think it's safe to say that no travel writer, no matter how talented, could ever write a list of recommendations that would satisfy everyone - local or visitor.
I also realized that, to be honest, it sounded like a pretty fun 36 hours. By following Dean's recommendations, you get to go hiking, eat and drink out, visit neat local shops, catch a play, go whale watching, and visit the glacier.
In a lot of ways, it sounded like a weekend I might have if I didn't have errands to run or work to do - that is, if I had 36 hours free to enjoy.
And that's probably a great feat for any travel writer: to recommend things that both a visitor and a local would enjoy doing on a given day.
Conspicuously absent from the recommendations are two places I get asked directions to all the time by visitors but wouldn't spend my weekend visiting: the Capitol and the governor's mansion (although there is a photograph of the mansion in the slide show accompanying the article, by Juneau Empire photographer Michael Penn).
The 36 recommended hours take advantage of the juxtaposition between wilderness and culture that makes Juneau so appealing to its residents. During my first winter in Juneau I remember being continually delighted by weekends containing stark contrasts between the wild outdoors and the lively arts and culture scene inside. Several years later, my most satisfying days in Juneau still usually include an intense hike followed by an evening book reading, concert or play.
Whether local or visitor, 36 hours is a fun time frame to work with. How would you spend 36 hours in Juneau? The best part about doing this thought experiment as a local is that once you've made your list, there's nothing stopping you from spending 36 hours following your own recommendations.
To view the New York Times travel article, visit http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/travel/30hours.html.
Katie Spielberger may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.