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 nature loving travelers.

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.

Our boat captain sailed the open-air vessel through the inlets and waterways of Sitka while showing us the exciting wildlife. 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 made an extra effort for us to 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 place for everyone to get one final picture of a whale’s tail fluke. What a guy!

Our adventure in Sitka Alaska on the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest was memorable. A day of nature and whale watching.  Amazing and beautiful.

Earlier that day, when sailing into port, we noticed the Russian inspired, onion dome roof buildings, including the famous St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church.

Also part of our day in Sitka, we spent walking the downtown area, going through  St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church with its onion dome roof.

St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, Sitka, Alaska.

St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church

The Native Indian and Russian-American cultural influences were impressive.

 

Next, as a compliment, we saw the Tlingit Indian totem poles in the park and a harbor of fishing boats. This scene was set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.

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

Visiting Sitka, we saw both Russian and Tlingit culture and heritage.  There were Native Indian artifacts and dancers, Russian inspired onion dome buildings and churches, and the New Archangel dancers.

Porky’s Prank

In the Port 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 were startled when the dormant volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, started to blow out smoke.  Since Mount Edgecumbe hadn’t erupted in 8,000 years, residents were very concerned. People ran out of their homes to watch the volcano, fearing the dormant volcano was about to erupt.

Mount Edgecumbe Sitka, Alaska

Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka Alaska

It turned out that the incident was not because of the volcano, but because of a local prankster named 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 Fools Day Pranks ever.

Whether taking a cruise or visiting Alaska by other means, Sitka Alaska is a port city full of natural wonder and beauty. The wildlife alone is worth exploring but there’s so much more. A pacific coast city worthy of exploring, if an Alaskan vacation is in your plans.

May good fortune guide your path.

J.A. Ireland.

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