Early this morning we sailed into Sitka, located in an impossibly beautiful cove surrounded by mountains on two sides and water ringed by islands in the others. Larry and Dan were going Kayaking, and Evan and I were going on a wildlife boat and beach hike. And amazingly enough, the overcast sky showed signs of brightening.
The trip Evan and I went on was run by Allen Tours, and the crew did a great job talking about what we were seeing, the local environment both natural and social. The other passengers were also very into the trip, and we had a great time looking and walking. We immediately sighted a whale, and then sea otters, seals, bald eagles, and even a far-off grizzly bear. The thickly wooded islands are spectacular, especially Mount Edgecomb the volcano looming in the distance.
We landed at an island, and spent an hour hiking around on the black-pebble rocky beach and tidal inlets. I was very happy to have my new hiking boots, otherwise I would have probably have slipped off the slippery rocks as others were doing. Back in the boat, we came across a pod of four whales, and watched for a while as they spouted, dove, and surfaced. So cool! We both adored this excursion
Back on land, Evan and I spent a while at a very local little museum, where the docent was too delighted to explain every diorama and faded newspaper cutting. It was actually very interesting, focusing a lot on the Native, Russian and American residents of Sitka. We met up with Dan and Larry, had a decent lunch (finally, good fish!) and then walked the mile to the Totem National Park, where there’s a several mile trail through the forest where old totems are displayed. Lovely, lovely place. I just wish there were some good explanation of the carvings near the totem poles.
We ran into Larry’s sister and mother, who were also really enjoying the visit. We continued hiking through the trails punctuated by totems, and came across a fast-running stream. Flashing through the water were hundreds of salmon making their way upriver.
We caught the town bus back into town, getting an interesting backstreet tour from our chatty driver through the fish processing plants. Back on board, Larry passed out for a nap while I fought the crappy and expensive internet hookup while watching the DNC. Very frustrating to be thrown offline every two minutes, especially at these outrageous rates.
Back on board, we managed to avoid Bingo, a talent show (how many people think its entertaining to get sloshed and belt out Elvis tunes?), a bad movie, Future Cruise Consultant Monica, and a towel-folding lesson.
Larry and I had dinner at the (costing extra, but reasonable for the quality) Pinnacle Grille on the ship. Excellent meal, wonderful service. They’re obviously really paying attention in this kitchen at least. The boys ate with the relatives at something called The Master Chef’s Dinner, which apparently involved singing and silly paper hats. Ended the night with the cousins at the Crow’s Nest bar.