Anyone reading this blog regularly might think that we were eaten by bears in Alaska. No worries, we made it home and then some. Summer just has a way of taking over and I neglected to make time for blogging. So doing a little catchup for the next few posts.
Alaska – We finished up a great trip with 12 entire days off the grid. No phones, no internet and an enormous amount of quiet time. It was wonderful! It left a great taste in my mouth to escape the 24/7 on call requirements of my business. More to come on that later…
Having an extended amount of time with my Dad was precious and in the beautiful Alaska setting no less. As the years pass, we all age. Passing up the opportunities to be with family is not something that can be taken for granted or left off the ‘to do’ list. I am so glad we made the trek. Alaska by water is so amazing and not something that everyone will have the chance to experience. A tour boat for the day, a day of fishing or a cruise ship are no where near the experience of living on the water for an extended period of time.
One of our stops was Tenakee Springs. An absolutely delightful little port with less than 50 homes perched on the edge of the bay. It is picturesque and often the setting for many paintings of the ‘typical Alaska village’. Ria Munoz has a number of prints from this area and the local bakery is filled with her artwork. In the center of town, just above the ferry dock is the hot springs and the general store. In the store we actually found Deschutes Beer from Bend! No matter how far we travel, a piece of home usually finds us.
The wildlife is amazing when you are right there. Many of the animals from whales, bears, birds to otters are not afraid of boats. The otters would only submerge if we slowed the boat down. If we kept our speed up then they would just float casually with an occasional glance at us passing. Slow down for a good pictures and ‘whoosh’ they are gone.
Boating has its own rhythm that is mandated by the tides, currents and the weather. Big tides, big wind and bad weather will make you want to tuck in to a protected harbor, stay on the dock and hide with a good book. Great weather and the sky is the limit on where you can go. We were blessed with fantastic weather and only a few day of rain.
There is always something to see when traveling by boat. A beautiful mountain vista, birds, whales, bears or other boats. A shoreline fisherman cabin that you spend a few minutes pouring over maps wondering how they access that cabin. Some small towns consist of nothing more than a few buildings around the dock. Every town was filled with commercial fishing boats. Often the small bays are filled with commercial crabbing pots.
Chores are the boat don’t differ too much from home – cooking, cleaning and laundry. Of course there is catching the fish or crab. A little more complicated than a trip to the meat counter at the grocery store. Hand washing dishes is a given and cooks don’t typically have to clean up. The view is great whether at the barbecue or the galley (no kitchens here) sink. And of course laundry means trekking off to the laundry mat in a small town. No different than in our RV. Here are a few views from inside the main cabins.
The towns we visited are only accessible via boat, ferry or plane. Many have roads, but often only a few miles of roads. The busiest town for car traffic was Sitka which has only 14 miles of roads! I think everyone in town had their own car.
Our tripped finished off in the town of Sitka. Sitka is only accessible by boat or plane as it is a series of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Vehicles are usually brought to Sitka via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. However, a vehicle is not an absolute necessity in Sitka, Alaska, as there are only 14 miles of road from one end of the island to another. Most everything is within walking distance from the downtown area which is where a majority of employers are situated. There is also public transportation available.
The Russian influence can be seen everywhere in Sitka. At one time it was called New Archangel after the Russians drove out the original settlers, the Tlingit People. The Bishops house (Bishop Innocent from 1840) is now a National Park and filled with history about the Russian settlement. We found the construction of the house interesting and a great diversion on a rainy day.
On the other end of town is the Sitka National Monument a 3.2 kilometer walk through the woods lined with totem poles. Many are are replicas of the deteriorating originals, now held in protective storage. Interspersed among the giant Sitka Spruce trees are a variety of ferns, shrubs and flowers. Salmon can be seen swimming up Indian River during spawning season. We enjoyed our walk and jumped in on a ranger led walk for some additional interpretation on the totems. Totems have many different uses – telling stories, identifying the occupants of a home or marking a special occasion. We really enjoyed this park and highly recommend a visit.
Our trip wrapped up in Sitka and we headed off to the airport where we crossed path with my nieces. They flew in from Seattle to spend a week on the boat with their Grandpa. So a quick hello, a hug and we flew back to Bend. Ahh, summer time!