Moose pass has me caught in a noose in cool Alaska

Eoghan Corry

MONDAY Juneau, capital of Alaska, has the most downtown glacier on the planet.

None of the roads go anywhere distant, halted by the icefield or the world's largest temperate rainforest. Time zone differences means I can head to the bar after my Morning Ireland interview. I am staying in a luxurious guesthouse opposite the Capital building where I am greeted by Duffy, the Scottie who barks every time a black bear comes into the garden. My hostess Linda Wendeborn has put me in the Governor's Suite. The prospect of sleeping on Sarah Palin's bed must be the most unerotic thought I have ever had.

TUESDAY Highlight of a visit to Juneau is John George's hilarious steamboat tour. Juneau used to have a legal brothel. "We closed it in 1957 when we were looking for statehood," he says, "so Congress would be impressed. Now we know more about Congress maybe we should have kept it open."

WEDNESDAY Some 600-odd cruise ships come through each season. I sample the shore on the Marine Highway, the trendy name for the local car-ferry service.

Highlight of the journey to Sitka is volcano Mount Edgecombe. It hasn't erupted for thousands of years, but a prankster ignited 100 tyres in the crater in 1974, for the craic. My kind of guy.

Sitka became Alaska's original capital when the Russians set up their fur store here in the 1790s. It has not lost its air of grandeur and is one of the most endearing towns on the planet. While the paved roads stop a few miles from town, the hiking trails go on for ever. I hike to Beaver Lake with Dave Nevins through the trees and through the last remaining winter snow.

THURSDAY Sample tasty rockfish in Ludvig's Bistro while Art and Linda Forbes tell me about life in an even more remote seashore village, Myers Chuck, population 27.

"We used to do our trading in Ketchikan," Art tells me. "Myself, Linda, two kids, two dogs, four hours by boat there and four hours back." Linda tells me when they finally got TV 10 years ago all the bickering in the community stopped.

FRIDAY Sitka has an O'Connell Bridge. How cool is that? Michael Boyle shows me around his Orthodox cathedral, with its very own miraculous icon from Russia. The Orthodox community in Alaska is one of the strongest in the western world, with mostly native American adherents.

SATURDAY Flight AS67 to Anchorage with the snow gleaming on the hills around.

SUNDAY Talk state trooper out of a ticket on the beautiful Ak1 highway at Moose Pass.

"That's where they catch them," I am told afterwards. A real travel writer would have known that.