The Untamed, Majestic Beauty Of Sitka Alaska

Mount Edgecumbe Sitka, Alaska

Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka, Alaska

Alaska is an untamed land of wonder like none other. A world of its own. A must see for any nature loving traveler.

One of the many unique attractions in Sitka, Alaska  is the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest. The tour offers a wonderful opportunity to see Alaskan Wildlife up close as well as picturesque scenery, like Mount Edgecumbe, a real volcano.

We sailed through the inlets and waterways of Sitka. Our boat captain delighted us with  exciting wildlife sightings. There were Alaskan naturalists aboard who kept us informed of what we would see coming around every bend.

On this shore excursion, people are guaranteed to see a sea otter, harbor seal, or whale. Our captain went out of his way to make sure we saw Humpback Whales. He really made an effort for us to all have a fantastic time.

Bald eagles
Numerous bald eagle sightings thanks to the captain. We saw soaring eagles, and their nests high in the treetops.

Sea otters
We saw adorable Sea Otters. Lots of them. They seemed very affectionate with one another. Kept in groups.

Harbor Seals-2

We also saw Harbor Seals on the rocky shores.

The captain made sure we saw more than half of dozen humpback whales. He kept in constant contact with other whaleboat captains so he would know where the whales were fluking. Then he drove the boat quickly to that area of the water. Whale fluke

Humpback Whale Fluke

He waited for us in one spot for everyone to get one final picture of a whale’s tail fluke. What a guy!

Our adventure in Sitka, Alaska was a memorable. A day of nature and whale watching.  Amazing and beautiful.

Sitka, Alaska was one of the port stops on our Alaskan cruise with Holland America. During our visit, we spent the day walking the downtown area, going through  St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church with its onion dome roof, and taking a three-hour Sea Otter Wildlife Quest boat tour. We had a wonderful day in this charming Alaskan town.

St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, Sitka, Alaska.The Native Indian and Russian-American cultural influences we noticed impressed us. As we sailed into port, we were able to pin point all of the Russian inspired onion dome roof buildings, including the famous St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church

Complimenting this we saw all of the Tlingit Indian totem poles in the park and a harbor full of fishing boats. This whole scene was set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. The port of Sitka was a fascinating and unique experience.

Russian-American Era

“In 1741, the Vitus Berring expedition recorded the location of the Tlingit settlement at Sitka and recognized the value of the location and resources, recording this in their log books. The world of the Tlingit people came to a calamitous turning point in 1799 when the Russians returned, built a fort and trading post, and named the site “New Archangel.” In 1802, the Tlingit destroyed the Russian outpost; however, the Russians returned in 1804 and retaliated by destroying the Tlingit fort in the Battle of Sitka, a site commemorated at the Sitka National Historical Park. Just a few years later, in 1808, Sitka became the capital of Russian-America, a vast territory that extended from Northern Alaska, south to Fort Ross, California.

Sitka was the capital of Russian-America from 1799 until 1867 and during the mid-1840’s Sitka was the leading economic center of the Pacific Rim with the first boatyard, lighthouse, sawmill, iron, brass and bronze foundries, and flourmill. Sitka, with scenic beauty possessed by few world communities, was known as the “Paris of the Pacific” and was the largest European-style settlement on the West Coast of North America.

When the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million, the Stars and Stripes were first raised on Castle Hill in downtown Sitka. Sitka was the capital of the Alaska Territory until 1906 when it was moved to Juneau.”

Article retrieved from http://www.sitka.net/sitka/culturehistory.html

English: One of the many Native Alaskan totem ...

Visiting Sitka, you see both Russian and Tlingit culture and heritage.  You see Native Indian artifacts and dancers, Russian inspired onion dome buildings and churches, and the New Archangel dancers.

Sitka is also teaming with wildlife. We went on a shore excursion called the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest to see sea otters, harbor seas, bald eagles, and whales.  To our delight, we saw them all.  From bald eagles nests set high in the treetops, to harbor seas laying on the rocky shores, our shore tour guide delivered them all.  We saw coves full of sea otters, swimming on their backs in family groups.  It was amazing.  An onboard naturalist explained the workings of this remarkable ecosystem, as well as how the sea otters recovered from near extinction from the overhunting of Russian fur traders.

Our guide went one-step further and ended the excursion with a whale-watching quest.  He made sure that we saw at least six humpback whales swimming, diving, eating, and showing their tail flukes.

Our day ended with spending time at St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church in downtown Sitka. It was a fascinating experience and a day full of wonderful memories.

Porky’s Prank

When we were on our Alaskan cruise on Holland America we sailed by Mount Edgecumbe on our way into the Port of Sitka.  Once in town and on our tour of Sitka, we were told about this local legend known as Porky’s Prank.

On April Fool’s Day in 1974, the residents of Sitka, Alaska were startled when the dormant volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, started to blow out smoke.  Since Mount Edgecumbe hadn’t erupted in 8,000 years, resident were very startled. People ran out of their homes to watch the volcano, fearing the dormant volcano was about to erupt.

It turned out that the incident was not because of the volcano, but because of a local prankster called Porky Bickar.  Porky had thrown hundreds of tires into the volcano’s crater and lit the tires on fire, causing black smoke to pour out of the volcano.  He was trying to convince his fellow villagers that the volcano was on fire.  He also spray painted “April Fools!” in the snow by the fire.  He explained later that he had been planning this event for three years.  It also proved to be an expensive prank for him as the Coast Guard required him to pay for the cleanup.

By the time it was over, the event was worldwide.   Porky will be remembered for ages because of it.

This ranks as one of the greatest April Fool’s Day Pranks ever.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland.

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