Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Alaskan Cruise Day 6

Three days left on the ship ... but don't worry - we also do a fabulous Quilt Shop-hop going home!


Oh my God, what a great day!!  We dropped anchor in the Sitka harbor early. We don't dock today, we tender in.  Ask me how I know we're here???? - the most god-awful sound vibrating up thru the floor!!!  I showered and ran up to the Lido for breakfast. Yogurt, watermelon and croissant!!  Yeah, I missed out on the strawberries, didn't see them until I was leaving.  

I sat with a pilot and his wife from Texas.  They were pretty funny, and they make their own excursions - he won't do a tour.  So they do a walk-about.  They actually went over the bridge into Douglas yesterday.  Miles of trekking.  She is a quilter too!

Here's our tour today:

Explore Sitka, Raptor Center and Native Tales     8:15        3 1/4 hours        

Explore an open bird habitat where eagles fly free, as well as stunning examples of Russian Colonial architecture, captivating native tales and the ancient rain forest of Alaska's oldest National Park. On this tour, Sitka's Russian, Tlingit and American culture, past and present, comes alive. On a brief panoramic drive thru the historic district, see totem square and castle hill - site of the 1867 purchase and land transfer ceremony of Alaska from colonial Russia. You'll also pass the Pioneer Home, the Russian Bishop's house and the St Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral. 

Discover the Alaska Raptor (Bald eagle) center, staffed mostly by volunteers who rescue the birds, provide rehabilitative care for them, and hopefully release the birds back to the wild. After your introduction to the facility, you will see the fascinating bird on a glove presentation.  View the clinic, outside deck habitat area and the eagle flight center. Photograph the birds throughout the grounds. 

At Sitka Nat'l Historic Park, wander through the lush forest along scenic paths where totems depict the rich culture of the Tlingit people. A short optional walk includes topics such as edible and medicinal plants, the life cycle and traditional uses of various salmon species, and rain forest ecology. Discover the park's visitor center featuring local native artists along with both ancient and modern displays, and view a fascinating audio-visual presentation on Sitka's history. 

Next you'll experience authentic Tlingit stories and songs during a visit to a traditional-style clan house built on the site of a former govt school. The Naa Kahidi Community House features the largest carved house-screen in the Pacific Northwest and comes alive with songs and voices - including your own.  Admire the beautiful regalia clothing and even learn to speak a bit of Tlingit before you leave. Your tour concludes with the transfer back to the ship or you may choose to be dropped off in town.  This will allow you to explore the main street of a unique Alaskan town on your own ad perhaps visit St Michael's Cathedral .   Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers.

Since we had an early tour, the group met onboard at the Queen's lounge for the Raptor Center tour.  Thank goodness U noticed I didn't have my camera!  I had time to run back for it.  The Raptor Center was very interesting.  

We met Volta the eagle who's been an "ambassador of the species" for 22 years!  He's been on TV; even rang the bell for the Stock Exchange.  The center accepts injured birds from anywhere to try to  rehabilitate them.  The birds who are too injured to be released into the wild again are given homes in captivity (zoos) or become an ambassador.

It's a well known center.  A friend from Brookings has a sister that lives in Alaska, and her sister sponsors an eagle at the center.  I'm glad she recommended that we tour it. 

Joke to tell kids:  Who does a killer whale see when he has a tooth problem?  An ORCApedist!!!!

On to the Natl park with Totem poles - but after leaving the bus, we first walked over to the stream to see the salmon spawning.  They were "pinks" and basically holding their own against the stream.  They're not dramatic at this point.  Mostly staying in one place, guarding the roe. But an eagle was flying along the creek above us!! Always a thrill.

U and I walked along the stream on a forest path.  We saw a few totems and ended back up at the museum.  The guide recommended that we watch the short history film.  We did that, then went to see the artisan in residence.  Today it was a Native woman working in beads.

She was very interesting.  I'm sorry I didn't get her name.  She was brought up by her "auntie" as most Alaskan children are.  Her birth-mom brought up other children.  Her beading was exquisite. Some was beaded on antelope skin that she cured herself. 

One piece was a small pouch open on top - it was her cell phone holder!!  After that announcement, we all just looked at each other and my brain was stupefied!  Then we all smiled and she said, there are many uses for their art in the modern world.  It was amazing and we could have stood there and talked with her for hours.  BUT the bus was leaving ...  we shook her hand, thanked her and headed out of the center.

Then to the Chapter House where we saw native dances.  There were some really little guys in the dances - a 3 yr old and 6 yr old.  It was fun.  A lot of us joined in the "invitational".  Hold our arms out slightly and limp like Raven. (You know I can limp on occasion!)  My grandson D would have loved to see them, the Native dress here is CAPES!! And D is never without a cape if he can help it!!

Our guide told us they are the only cruise stop that doesn't have the cruise company stores lined up.  When approached by the cruise companies, they said, "No. Our stores have been owned by families for generations and we like it that way."  The cruise ships said, "Then we won't come."  And Sitka said, "So, don't!"  Well, they came anyway. And Sitka does have a different ambiance than our other stops. I like it.

We ended back in town for a little shopping and the quilt store!  We were a little nervous that we wouldn't see bears on this trip.  But they were pretty easy to find, after all!!!

 We were due back on the boat at 1 - we had lunch then took photos from the ship.  We sewed on Lido deck for awhile.  Sitka is a beautiful harbor amongst small islands.  Gorgeous sailing through them.

Dinner tonight in the dining room, and oh what a dinner it was!!!  Our table mates were NOT a match made in heaven!!  But I thought it was hilarious to watch and keep up!!  M, German and her husband; and the 2 women we sat with at breakfast one morning.  (From the US, but originally from Palestine.) First M didn't think Jerusalem was in Palestine!  After a 12 year war???  

Then she said she didn't recognize the name because Germans call it "Palestina"??  News to U!  She was hoping no one would ask what her name was!!  (It's German!) and she did not want to join in these conversations.

One of the gals wanted everything that someone else had,  and not what she ordered and had in front of her!! But M wanted what she was giving up!  Our poor waiter was probably tearing his hair out in the kitchen!!   The whole dinner was oh-so-very-funny!  

I had beet and blue cheese salad; (I picked around the beets!) rainbow trout and Strawberry/chocolate ladyfingers.  AND the chocolate filling from the gal's second dessert!!  I liked it, she didn't!  U and I laughed and laughed as we walked down the hall afterwards! Very discreetly, of course!!  And every time we thought of it again!!

Recycled Percussion was the program tonight and it was awesome!  They handed out drumsticks, something to pound on, and ear plugs to everyone in the audience!  It was so much fun.  My grandchildren P&M would have loved it.  I bought the DVD of their Vegas show for them, for a donation to the "Stop Bullying" program they started.  My daughter, their mom, may hate me!!!

After that program we ambled over to BB King's and listened to that set.  P&I, the sisters we met, joined us along with their husbands. We sat together and talked about our tours until the start of the next set.  The guys seem very nice too.  I thought I ordered the non-alcohol Strawberry daiquiri with some rum added - but no rum was in it.  Very refreshing though!

Tomorrow is our last stop in Alaska, we're going to the Sanctuary for the Bear Encounter ... it takes up most of our time - hope to have time to see the salmon at Creek St and get our totem charms.  Know we won't have time to go to the quilt shop.  Darn!

1 comment:

barbara woods said...

thanks for the pictures, enjoying you vaca.