Just as living out North Douglas can be ‘so far away’, so is the Auke Bay area for people who live downtown. But let me tell you, the original people who settled here had it right! Auke Bay gets less rain than downtown does, they tend to have more sun, and generally better weather. We always joke about having to go ‘north of the border’ to see the sun. Though their snow can stick on the ground longer than the valley, for those of us that enjoy the snow it’s not always a bad thing.
While I lived in the Auke Bay area, I was graced with more sunsets that took my breath away than I can count, more beers and s’mores (have you tried using an Oreo instead of graham crackers and chocolate? You’re welcome.) than I care to admit, and so many adventures I probably can’t remember them all. People always joke about being a valley person, downtown person, or Douglas person, and I have to say that I am an Auke Bay kind of girl at heart.
Having been married to a commercial fisherman, Auke Bay was the spot to live. It is no secret that a fisherman’s first love is the ocean, so being able to watch the boats dock at dusk, and head out at first light was something that made him a bit less restless being stuck on a rock. And the stumbling distance from Squires was also a plus. As with any community, the fishing community needs a place to call theirs; a place that they can get rowdy, tell stories, network, and express both their joys and sorrows. For many local fishermen, Squires is the place. But in the summer it also fills with whale watching crews, who also share a love of the ocean. So really, Squires is a ‘we love the sea’ bar. The older fishermen who have earned their own special chairs at the bar while they all watch hunting shows and drink Vitamin R, are the consistent fixture that give Squires the beloved local feel, and it is noticed when they are gone from their post.
For those of us who would rather get outside to enjoy our comradery, living in Auke Bay gets you most of the way to most of our cabins. Possibly due to the topography of the area as downtown has steeper mountains and there aren’t any cabins on mountain peaks, or the fact that ‘out the road’ has more sprawling and wooded area, you will find almost all of our local cabins past the Auke Bay roundabout. Again, only people who have never lived in large cities will complain about having to drive ‘all the way’ out Auke Bay, but the beaches and the cabins are worth the extra 15 minutes.
Though there are beaches on Douglas and out Thane, I have found that generally the most popular beaches are out Auke Bay. You get a good mix of jagged rocky beaches where the waves thunder against shore, beaches with round pebbles in a smooth arc of a cove, and the giant alluvial fan that sprawls out to the ocean at such a gentle slope. On even just ‘decent’ nights you usually have at least someone with a fire, people scattered around it for warmth or light socializing and laughing. And during the summer days when the wind isn’t biting and the surf isn’t crashing, paddle boarders and kayakers take to the ocean while families barbecue and dogs keep their children busy with sticks and balls.
And even for people who don’t want to hassle with the beach, tent camping, or cabin camping, just driving out the road can give you the opportunity to see whales from the pull outs, and let you appreciate the beauty of nature even if you don’t want to get too personal with nature.
Courtney Wendel has lived in Juneau since she was a year old. She has a twin brother and an older brother, and learned to enjoy the outdoors at a young age by following the boys into mischief. Graduating from JDHS in 2006, she attended UAS to receive her Literature of the Environment, BA English degree. When not at work she spends most of her time on the diverse trail system hiking, running, or camping with her spotted pooch and adventure buddies.