Alaska Cruise – 08/09/95

WED. 8/9 CLEAR and off to Sitka by tender. We took a tour of historic Sitka and the Raptor center. Our driver, Duane Pierson, also a teacher, took us to the center first. We didn’t have much time here. Here they re-hab injured birds of all kinds from hummingbirds to eagles. Any critters are cared for if needed. About 50% are released into the wild. They come from everywhere. Those that can’t be released are sent to breeding centers allover the country. One eagle was sent to Millington, N.J. There are 4 species of eagles and 19 species of owls.

This center was started 15 years ago. It is supported by donations and cruise ship visits. No Federal money is available. U. S. Fish and Game does give support.
There were owls and eagles there being cared for.

Sitka has 9,000 people, 26 churches, average age of pop. is 25 to 30. There are 18 miles of roads and 17,000 registered vehicles. No way in or out except by boat or
plane. There are 3 high schools. 30% are Native Americans.

They get 100 inches of rain and 20 to 30 feet of snow. They have had 8 clear days including today, since May 23. The tide here is a 16 foot one (Pacific Ocean).

There have been as many as 6 Cruise ships in at one time. Sitka was the capital at
one time. It is an isolated town but does have a branch of the University of Alaska. st. Michael’s Cathedral is a focal point of the Russian influence when the town was the capital of the Russian territory.

We were lucky when we got on the tenders to see Mt. Edgecumbe. They have up to 90 inches of precipitation and occasional snow. On Castle Hill in town you can see both the Russian and American flag flying. We went to see the Russian Dancers (all women).

From here we went to Sitka National Historical Park where there are many totem poles which were a part of the Tlingit native tradition. Lots of fishing in the area and most of it goes to Japan.

There is a story which the “natives” like to tell. It seems that there a young man back in 1974, now a contracter, decided to play an April Fool’s joke on the town. Mt. Edgecumbe is a volcano. This young man gathered a bunch of old tires, took them up the mountain and set them on fire. The townspeople thought the mountain was erupting. He had to confess to his joke.

We arrived back at the ship at 3 and went to the Upper Promenade deck to loaf in deck chairs. What a life. We had hopes of seeing whales tonight but no luck. We did see a great show, featuring Chris Archer, a banjo player from Branson, Missouri. He was fabulous.

We are under way to Juneau to arrive around 5:50 AM.

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