June 19, Monday
We slept late this morning. Considering that the sun comes up at 3:30, 8:00 is pretty late! The weather took a turn for wet and grey today, and we figured that some of the downtown sites would be a dry pursuit.
St. Michael’s Cathedral is the most prominent structure in historic downtown Sitka and a reminder that Alaska was once Russian. It was built in 1844-48 by Bishop Innocent Veniaminov, the first Russian Bishop in America. Today the parish is predominantly Native Tlingit. The Cathedral is filled with sacred icons, many of which were sent from Russia by wealthy patrons in 1844. (I took the outdoor pictures yesterday, under a blue, sunny sky!)
The Russian Bishop’s House was built down the road from the Cathedral in 1843 by Finnish shipwrights using Yellow Cedar and spruce. The builders specialized in energy-saving construction, and the home was “over-built” for the mild Sitka climate. When the Russian government turned Alaska over to the Americans, the Russian Orthodoxy continued to be strong with the natives, and took over the House. In 1962 it was taken over by the National Park Service and underwent a 10-year renovation with a return to authentic and true replica furnishings.
We made an attempt to locate and hike a trail that left from a back street downtown and climbed up to a viewpoint of the harbor. It was evident as we went along, that we had wrong information, and we would not see the harbor. But, the trail was wide and graveled and the forest was beautiful, and we kept with it for awhile.
Driving back through downtown we spied a movie theater with The Mummy -- Tom Cruise's and Russell Crow's new version. We dropped Charlie Button back at the Silvermine, and made the 4:30 showing. Then back for supper to eat the left-over crab from last night's downtown crab feed. Before going to bed Tom will do a little more research to find some trails for tomorrow.
June 20, Tuesday
This morning I woke up to pancakes and sausage . . . all prepared in the Silvermine by Tom! Then, we were on a mission to do laundry, including all our bedding. This job is a lot easier when there are commercial size front-load washers . . . but at the cost of $7.50 a load it was rather pricy. Dryers for 5 minutes for 25 cents. And I had a feeling they had not cleaned the lint traps for quite awhile. Really – I am in Alaska and talking about laundry!?
As we left I remembered to get a picture of our Sportsman’s RV Park . . . one looking at our rig and another across the parking lot looking at the ocean.
After laundry we did a quick trip to the Fortress of the Bear – a safe haven for orphaned bears in Sitka, Alaska. Until this facility was established if orphaned cubs were found, a ranger would be sent out to kill them. It took five years for the founders to satisfy permit requirements to rescue and house orphan bears in captivity, but they are now home to 8 permanent residents. They also have been able to place bears with other various sanctuaries.
We had a quick lunch and put laundry away and then headed out with a new map to find some promising walking trails. The day was overcast with short periods of rain and 53 degrees, but nothing that really interfered with being outside. From the downtown area we crossed the O’Connell Bridge over to Japonsky Island and tried to find a beach trail. It appeared that the whole area had been fenced in by the Coast Guard and access to the beach was restricted. The only other facilities on the island was the Airport, a hospital, and some kind of community housing.
Next we headed out to Whale Beach where there was a boardwalk along the forest edge and steps (96 – Tom counted!) down to a beautiful viewing gazebo – but no whales!
I woke up in the middle of the night with a hankerin for Mexican food! Downtown there is an Agave's restaurant, and we are going to check in there for supper!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown