into Alaska like...
Sitka is an Alaskan city and borough near Juneau, the state capital. It's spread over Baranof Island, part of Chichagof Island and others. It was part of Russia until 1867 and St. Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral is topped with an onion dome. The 1842 Russian Bishop's House is nearby. Sitka National Historical Park is the site of Russia's defeat of the indigenous Tlingit people and has a trail dotted with totem poles.
got there without a plan and with no set accommodation. I decided right
away that I didn't want to rent a room
somewhere and plop my ass down for the rest of the stay, because that
would defeat the purpose of moving around and exploring new places.
This is where I called home for the first few days.
|Breakfast with a view, aka what sitting at the kitchen table looked like. Sign me up.|
few more nights were spent in this refurbished WW2 tugboat.
The rest of the trip I camped out, and for that I was glad I packed a nice heavy-duty sleeping bag because it can get pretty chilly at night, even in May.
|Harbor mountain from the trail.||This is what most of my evenings looked like. A hearty dinner, a fire, and nature.|
at last. The Fortress of the Bear is a non-profit bear rescue facility,
largest of its kind in the United States.
Bears ruled Alaska long before fishermen, gold miners, or cruise ships arrived. As their territory has diminished, more and more bear cubs have become orphaned. The state of Alaska has no bear rehabilitation program in place, and unfortunately orphaned cubs are routinely shot by the Department of Fish and Game for lack of an alternative. Until now. At Fortress of the Bear, the mission is to rescue cubs, bring them back to health and provide a long life full of enrichment.
The rescue center opened in 2007, and now houses 8 bears. More than 20,000 visitors per year come to experience the majesty of these amazing creatures.
|I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of those claws, but this guy was friendly enough and came right up to the bars to say hello as I was passing by. I got to feed him a few grapes.||Not the same guy. This one had no time for wimpy grapes.|
a few bald eagles flying over the facility. I'm sure they don't
hate the leftover fish.
As a side note, those bears eat better than I do: bucketfuls of fresh fish, veggies, fruit, and berries. Not a bad life.
|The sunset as seen from Harbor mountain.||The top figure of the Trader Legend Pole. This guy is likely someone who committed a transgression, and had his likeness carved on this ridicule pole to notify the community of a wrongdoing or unpaid debt.|
|Thimbleberry Lake. I was so sure I'd get drenched on the hike back, but the weather gods were mercifully kind. Cold as balls that day, though.||Made a few friends.||Went halibut fishing.|
|More bald eagles, this time patroling the dock.||I think this settles it. When I retire, I'm moving to Alaska and becoming a fisherman. Or, you know, Cuba. Bit warmer.||Stalking pheasants. I didn't shoot this guy, don't worry. He didn't seem to mind me being there while his buddies were a bit more skittish.|
|Stellar Sea Lions enjoying the sunshine on a buoy in Sitka Sound.||Peaceful nights.||The Cormorant Memorial pole.|
|I don't expect I'll be seeing something like this in New York anytime soon. Just a guy carving a canoe out of a red cedar trunk. It smelled really, really good.||The finished product should look something like this.||2550' above the sea. Views over Sitka from Picnic Rock on Mt. Verstovia.|
|Little Pygmy Owl and his dinner. Bon appetit!||Yup. More totems.||A little free library in Juneau. I spent a couple of days there near the end of the trip.|
|I got to visit a distillery while I was in town. This guy is putting the finishing touches on the copper plumbing in the tasting room.||Charrin' the barrel.||Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau. I've never been more turned on in my life.|
one checked off the bucket list:
Mendenhall Glacier is a glacier about 13.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska.
|Check out this awesome cruise ship. Her name is Niewu Amsterdam.||Mother Nature enjoys the sunset from her spot in the Centennial Totem Pole.|