Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alaska Cruise - Sitka

We arrived in Sitka the morning of June 10th. Sitka doesn't have large piers for cruise ships, so the few that do visit have to anchor further out, and passengers have to take a tender ashore. This is one of the tender/lifeboats. It looks small, but they fit a lot of people inside. While eating lunch aboard in Juneau, we watched a small crew practice maneuvers in one of these. One person would throw a life ring out, and then with one person in the bow giving directions to the person 'driving', a third crew member would try to fish out the life ring with a long pole. It sometimes took several attempts.

Anyway, Mom and I went ashore, and boarded an old school bus for our tour. There were some loops around the town to show us typical houses (and use up time, I think), and we had 3 main stops. The first was St. Michael's Cathedral. This Russian Orthodox church was originally built by Sitka's Russian settlers. It burned down, but was rebuilt from the original blueprints. I don't think there are many, if any, Russians still in town except for the priest here, but they capitalize on the Russian heritage as that makes them stand out from the other southeast Alaskan towns.

The icons and other ornamental work inside the church are mostly original and were saved from the fire by the townspeople.
We also visited the Sheldon Jackson Museum. He was a missionary who also collected a lot of native artifacts during his time in Alaska. This was a fairly small museum, one large room, but packed with interesting objects, including several kayaks (umiaks/canoes).

There was also a performance by the New Archangel Dancers, a Russian folk dance troupe. Although none of the women members are Russian, they focus on Russian dance to honor the heritage of their town. They normally perform in a community hall, but the day we were there, there was some kind of fishing conference going on and so the performance was in a local gym instead.

More of my Sitka pictures are here.

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