Dream Trip To Yukon and Alaska By Road, To Anywhere Else By Any Means At All

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Aug 29 - After Sitka -- (Dream Travel Trip Anywhere; Yukon-Alaska Road Trip)

Alaska and Back: Did The Guides Work? > What Actually Happened > ...Coming Home FROM The Arctic

August 29, 2006...
...to Sitka and beyond

August 29, 2006

Hi All!

Well, Sitka came and went, and there was no internet to send emails – or anything else. So, this is the third email in line, better written now while my memory is fresh.

Sitka IS a historic place – where the US and Russia actually executed the contract for sale of Alaska to the US, and the Czarist folks actually handed over the deed – along with all the buildings in the once Russian City of Sitka – including (Tzarist) Governor Malakov’s (sp?) palace (such as it was).

There is a neat wooden Russian Orthodox Church in the center of the main street, which is otherwise lined with tourist shops and factory outlets (and you thought it was a trek to get to YOUR nearest factory outlet mall!).

Almost all of the tour ships stop here, which explains why here, as in Anchorage, Skagway, and other cruise ship stops, virtually all the pure tourist (50% OFF, end-of-Summer sales!) shops with the t-shirts from China are owned and run by expatriate Indians (from India).

It takes but a minute to get used to it and, if you’re smart, to hold onto your wallet and instead go see the wonderful nature and remarkable history of these places.

But of course, if you like to encounter different kinds of people, you can just stand on the sidewalk and listen.

For example, there was this short, roundish lady leaning against one of Sitka’s factory outlet stores:

“Oye. I’m nawshus. Muoy soid hoits. Oym sick tuh mouy stummik. If oye have tuh rhyde one maw of doze smawl boats to duh cruze ship, I’ll trow up.” (Never could figure out where she’s from.)

But then there was Mike’s Old Time Bar. The place was full at 11:15 am, and not a one of those folks was a tourist. Not by a long shot. And some of those people had to already be on their fourth round. Oh my!

Of real note on today’s leg of MY cruise trip (ignoring for the moment that I was able to take an afternoon nap instead of driving anywhere) is that I have seen whales just like the brochures say you will.

Also neat: at the Sitka ferry dock, 6 miles east of the main town, I walked down an old road and saw – at a great distance - local fisherman casting and pulling in salmon almost as fast as they could put out a line.

The salmon are still running here and hundreds were thrashing about – jumping wildly to enter into a fast rushing stream emptying right there into the fjord. Quite a site to behold!

To see pictures, click LARGE arrow BELOW the map-3rd icon from left. For BIGGER images, click white circle (1st icon). For more info, see menu: Begin Here/User's Guide

The route ... click below to start the slide show ...

The people on board the ferry – as on the cruise line ships – generally are older rather than younger, with one exception.

The ferries, unlike the McMansion cruise ships, are true inter-island carriers of people and goods, and about a third of the passengers thus are campers, back packers, or moving from job to job.

They pay only for their own transport, sleep on the floor in one or another of the lounges, or sleep outdoors in the “solarium” (a heated open space at the stern), with a few even pitching tents right there on deck.

It’s there that you find many of the foreign travelers, itinerant writers, and the American back country adventure group members.

By contrast, others on board are traveling in humongous (HUMONGOUS!) campers – intercity bus chassis (anyone know what the plural of chassis is?) built from the get-go as rolling homes much, much larger than the place I’m living in back in DC.

The biggest of them literally dwarf the large SUVs they’re towing for around-town around- national park touring.

The photos tell all…what a great mix of travelers, with no pretense except for the types who own the biggest of the rolling home types - bragging about their rigs the way George Bush brags about his success at eliminating Iraq’s WMD. (What’s wrong with this picture?).

One of the best parts of the ferry, by the way, is the bar. $2.50 buys you a big mug of the local Alaska Amber Ale – on tap.

Shee yuh layder…


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