Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Day 4: Sitka

Russian Orthodox Church, Sitka

Originally a small Russian settlement, Sitka now exists primarily as a cruse-ship destination, hosting over 100,000 visitors during the holiday season (May to September). Mostly, it comprises the usual Alaska tourist pick-and-mix of jewelry, tourist shops and t-shirt vendors, plus some local excursion offerings such as kayaking, nature hikes and biking.

It made a welcome change to get off the boat and get some exercise. We did about 3 miles in the morning going through the Tongass rainforest, a unique environment that apparently comprises approximately 15% of the world’s rainforest, with an ecology all its own that's totally different from what we are used to in California.

For us, being a small ship, we had the luxury of being able to dock close to town, whereas the larger ships have to use tenders to bring people to shore. This only hit home when we saw a long line of pensioners snaking back from the dock waiting for the next tender to get them back for meal 4 in the daily regime of at least 5! (They were on one of the large ships we saw dwarfing the dock in Juneau.)

In the afternoon there was a visit to a place where they carve and preserve totems which, while interesting in itself, also offered another welcome opportunity to get in a further short hike around the park where they are located.

Back to the ship, and then heading north.

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