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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Discovering Our Sitka

We have been plagued by connectivity issues for the last few days. Not sure if it is the network, or a dead zone, or a computer problem. We are trying to compose our updates ahead of time and post them when possible.

The city of Sitka offers a little guidebook with advertisements and articles and information about the various activities. They include a map and the major points of interest. They are great for the tourist to get a quick overview and develop a sightseeing plan. Thursday, during the walk to the hospital, we found the sidewalks crowded with tourists from the cruise ship. We felt like they were clogging our city, and so after only one week we are officially no longer tourists ourselves, but residents, albeit temporary. That did not stop us from using the list in the guide to lead our explorations on Friday.

With another sunny day, we decided to focus on outdoor activities. Our first stop was Castle Hill. This is a high promontory overlooking the sound that has been the site of local rule throughout Sitka's history, from native Tlingit, to Imperial Russia, to United States. It is the place where the official flag-raising ceremony took place to mark the purchase of Alaska, commemorated every year on Alaska Day. It is amazing how rich in history this small city is, what an important place it once was.

We visited a reconstruction of a Russian blockade, as well as the burial spot of a Russian princess. We also took a long walk toward the far northern dock. We didn't make it all the way, but we did find another perspective on Mount Edgecumbe.

We also got another perspective on the entire city at the historical museum. In addition to numerous artifacts, there was a large collection of old photographs of people and places. The history is a strong mix of both Tlingit and Russian. From narrative and images a local artist also created a model of the city as it once was.

We did some shopping at the largest market in town, then took the community bus back to the inn. Along the way we heard the first report that another bear mauling had taken place on a trail on the south side of the city. A woman on a bicycle had startled a bear, who swiped at her as she passed. She was knocked down and reportedly screamed at the bear, looking directly at it, which frightened it away. Authorities were unable to locate the bear.

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