Day 63: Killer Whale Breaching
Exhausting Day walking around Sitka today. Lots of interesting things.
Departure: Sitka GPS 57 39.8061 N 136 05.6530 W
Destination: Sitka GPS 57 39.8061 N 136 05.6530 W
Hour meter: 1393(Bartlett Cove)
Todays Distance: 0 miles
Total mile: 1725 miles
Yesterday I woke up at 0500 and couldn’t go back to sleep. What is new! At least it gave me some time to focus on my journal. Tough to keep the journal updated when you are being a tourist in a town all day long.
This morning we headed into the marina in our dinghy and tied up in the slip of our new found friends on Intrepid. Great folks spending the summer in Alaska. They keep their boat in Anacortes, at the Skyline marina.
Heather and I walked into town looking for coffee and food to get us going. But of course a little curiosity shop caught our eye on the way into town, so we went in. I like window shopping, never know what you might find. Of course we left this poor shop owner with out pulling out any green money. We also stopped at a marine store. For some reason I can’t seem to walk by these stores. Don’t really need anything, except a new fishing net, plus a replacement shrimp pot and crab pot for the ones I lost. Still couldn’t break down and buy these things. Besides if I bought them now I would have to carry them around all day.
By the time we found a coffee shop, we had stopped at the block house, the clan house and a number of trinket shops. By the time I got my coffee it was almost noon and the town was packed with cruisers from the Holland America Cruise line.
Heather and I went into the St. Micheal’s Cathedral. A very awesome structure. Heather even had time to speak with an old clergy man that helped rescue all of the ICON’s from this cathedral when it burned. He shared with Heather lots of history about this awesome structure, the community, and how important it is to him. The original church was built in 1837. The church burned in 1966, and was rebuilt in 1976. It is now going through some extensive renovations. All done with private donations. We donated to the cause.
We worked our way through town to our main goal of the day, which was the Sheldon Jackson museum. Sheldon Jackson built the museum and ran a school in the early 1900s. The museum houses a ton of native Alaska artifacts that he collected from all over Alaska. It was amazing what those early natives where able to do with resources they found on land and in the sea. The most amazing thing I saw was some raincoats made out of fish skins. I can’t imagine making one, let alone wearing one. Think of the smell. Of course I’m sure the makers of these raincoats thought of that and had a solution for the smell of rotting fish.
We also meet a native carver and artist at the museum. His name was Able Ryan. At a very early age he was fascinated with his tribes culture and history. He followed his uncle around at the early age of 3 watching him carve and paint. His love for his heritage made him want to pass on his deep, rich culture of the Alaska native community. He has made passing on the traditions and art of his culture his life’s work. We have been wanting to buy some native art on this trip. He had a small ceremonial paddle for sale. It was very unique with inlayed Abalone shell. The paddle depicted a killer whale breaching (jumping out of the water) with the moon in the background. Very cool. Able is a member of the Tsimshian tribe. With our purchase Able Ryan shared the story of the paddle while we videotaped him. He seem surprised but pleased we wanted to do that.
After the museum Heather and I wondered over to the Sitka Sound Science Center and Fish hatchery. We didn’t go in the hatchery, but we did go into the building next door, which was originally an old woodshop for making wooden pieces for boats. The woodshop now houses a gift shop and chowder house.
It was a very hot day today. Next to the woodshop there was a beach. The local kids were in swimming. I remember the days when I was a kid I would go swimming at our beach on Vashon Island. The water was cold, but I didn’t mind it. Now days I hardly go in, too cold. When these kids got out of the water they would lay on the hot black boulders that surrounded the beach and warm themselves.
The last thing we visited today was the Russian Cemetery. Call it weird but Heather and I like to wonder around old cemeteries. This Russian cemetery is very overgrown, but you could see someone was maintaining it. We had two Raven’s cawing and squawking at us, as we looked at all the old and new tomb stones. Whenever I hear the calling of the Raven’s in a native villages, like Sitka it makes me think these big black birds are reincarnated native villagers that have passed over to a new life, after their passing. Call it spiritual, or creepy but these birds followed us through the cemetery grounds. The oldest gravestone was a child from 1824.
By now it was almost 1900. We were tired, hungry, and thirsty again. As we walked back to the boat, we stopped at the Longliner Pub. This pub sits over the beach in Sitka. We were able to sit there and watch the fishing boats go by as well as see our own boat anchored out. Right next door was a cannery where fish boat after fish boat was unloading their catch. Some of the fish boats were converted sailboats, that was kind of fascinating. When I saw one I tried to figure out what brand of sailboat it was originally. Heather enjoyed watching 10 or so eagles trying to get fish scraps . They would fly right over the deck!
After leaving the Longliner we headed back to the marina, hopped into our dinghy and headed out to Nordic Sun anchored in the harbor. On the way by the outer part of the marina, there was a dock party going on. There was live music on the fantail of an old 100 footer, with people dancing and enjoying themselves.
Once back on the boat we watched the sunset, as I review the photos and videos I took from today. Found out my lens had a bunch of dirt on it which made some interesting shadows on my images. I’ll have to be better next time at cleaning my lens.
By the time I crawled into bed it was after 2200. I read a few pages of my book before falling asleep.
Able Ryan holding Ceremonial Paddle (signifies a killer whale breaching with the moon above)