Focus On Fun Travel

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Talk about Native

     Last year, Barbi and I, on our date night, went to see the movie The Proposal.  We have been Sandra Bullock fans for a long time, so we really felt we would not be disappointed.  When Ryan Reynolds' character, Andrew, announces that they would be going to see his family in Sitka Alaska, Barbi and I knew we had struck gold with this movie.  We absolutely LOVE Sitka, Alaska!

     When you choose to take a cruise to one of the many regional areas around the globe, you will often ask yourself, "what am I going to see?"  Or "Will I be able to visit...?"  Alaska's inside passage is no different.  Yet, not all cruise companies stop in Sitka.  Our first cruise to this region may be unsurpassed because of a call to this quaint town, originally settled by Russian explorers in 1799.  Well, other than the Tlingit tribe that inhabited "Shee At'ika" for the previous 11,000 years

     Our only visit (So Far) to Sitka was in May 2008, when the Holland America Amsterdam dropped anchor in the harbor, a quarter mile from the dock.  We were on day 3 of a 7 day cruise, round trip from Seattle.  As we tendered over to the docks, we were immediately impressed with the beauty of this place.  Situated in South East Alaska, on the west side of Baranof Island, with mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, the sound leading into Sitka is a wonderfully calm entrance.  There are little islands dotting the harbor, that, like the rest of the area, are thick with Sitka Spruce and other evergreen trees.  During the summer, it is not uncommon to find pods of humpback whales feeding in Sitka sound.  The Russians were originally searching for sea otter hunting grounds.  When that died out and they moved on to Northern California, and the Russian River Valley, Sitka started relying on gold and fish.

     Our first journey into this world was a quick exploration of Sitka National Historic Park, or simply "Totem Park", very near the harbor.  This park was created in 1910 to preserve the fort and the collection of totems contained in it.  The 2 mile pathway hosts this amazing array of totems.  I took many pictures, but they could never come close to doing them justice.  You just have to experience them for yourselves.  They tell stories or give family histories. There are many that are simply artistic renditions of the culture of the native tribes.  Though they are not recognized as religiously symbolic, they have always played an important part of the heritage of the peoples.  Seeing the figure of Raven, Bear, and Orca are amazing in these small to massive logs, and I found myself wondering at the original meaning.  Here in the park, there is also a museum and a nice view of the harbor.  It is easy walking distance from the docks.

     After the park, we ventured to the Alaska Raptor Center, which is a non-profit center, dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of Bald Eagles and other birds.  As we walked along the path here, we saw many eagles that were being cared for and who, because of various injuries, may be permanent residents here.  The center is also within walking distance of downtown, and is very popular to visit.  There are demonstrations and educational presentations offered daily.  We opted to just wander.  I thought it very "Alaska" when we saw a sign warning us of bears in the area.  Where in the heck was my .44 Mag?  Too funny.

     We then just hung out downtown and went through the many types of shops.  Some were dedicated to tourists, others were not.  We found a great bargain on coats that had Alaska printed on them, which we still wear in the cold winter of Northern Utah.  because of the Russian heritage here, it is one of the few places in the United States where you can purchase Russian trinkets, such as Nesting dolls.  Visiting the Russian Othodox St. Michael's Cathedral.  As we were not here on a Sunday, we did not have the opportunity to attend church, which I think would have been awesome.  But the Russian influences here are really fantastic. (Next Stop...St

Holland America MS Amsterdam
      Leaving Sitka was definitely bitter sweet.  As we sailed back through the sound, watching the little islets pass by, we told ourselves, "We are coming back and spend more time."  The fantasies about moving to Sitka will remain for some time.

     So when you visit South East Alaska, I definitely recommend choosing a cruise itinerary that will stop here.  More things you can do here are:
  • Salmon or Halibut Fishing
  • Whale Watching
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Hiking
     When you are ready to explore and experience the wonders of Alaska, let us know.

We Are Here For You.

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