Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 21 - Sitka

Weather in Sitka:  50s and raining
Steps:  Shaun - 11,766 steps, 22 floors climbed; Shannon - 11,055 steps, 14 floors climbed
Critter count:  Lots of salmon...both dead and alive, and a ton of birds of prey that are currently being rehabbed before sending them back out to the wild

This one's for you, Dar...check out the size of these rose hips!

This day began early since we had to have our luggage on deck by 7:00am.  We had a quick breakfast, paid the bills, collected everyone's email addresses, and disembarked.  We had one more tour to take, but some of the guests were going deep-sea fishing and others were leaving for early flights. Shannon and I checked out the town while waiting for the bus and realized that it was Labor Day weekend.  It was so weird to be so disconnected with time and space for so long.

Check out her's the reason she's at the center.  It's a genetic deformity that continues to grow under her lower beak until she can't open her mouth if they don't shave it down a few times a year.

Our tour took us to the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, the only center of its kind in Alaska, and the 3rd largest in the country.  They concentrate mostly on eagles, but they will help anything with feathers. Holland America gave them the money to buy the land, and Alaska Air flies patients from all over the country to the center for free.  We got to see the main area where the eagles stay and then meet an adult eagle up close and personal.  It was seriously cool, and then we toured the grounds of the center to see the other residents.  There were owls and falcons and hawks and lots of eagles too.

This ceremonial cape thing is woven like the calf-covering that David made (see Day 20), but on a much grander scale. In his presentation, David showed a picture of this and said that it is extremely difficult to make perfect circles in weaving but that Tlingit weavers had perfected the art. Sadly that knowledge is dying out, but they are hoping to revive the artform to keep the style and tradition alive.

After the raptor center, we went to the Sitka National Historic Park which is also known as Totem Pole Park because it has a bunch of totem poles interspersed throughout the park.  It was very cool, and there was also a salmon stream running along the side of it.  I bought a quilt pattern for a totem pole wall hanging...wish me luck on that one!

Alaskan jock strap....nice!

We had about an hour to shop around town, and Shannon really wanted to get a basket woven from whale baleen, but the one she wanted was $1,800!  That's my Shanny girl....always dreaming big!  She ended up getting one made from grass and a pretty carved wall hanging instead.  I got a very small orca carving that was signed that made me happy.  I also got some tanzanite earrings that made me even happier!  I didn't end up finding my embroidered shearling coat, but I'll never stop looking!

Lindblad provided us with a bag lunch on the bus, and we were off to the airport for a 2:10 flight to Seattle. The Sitka airport has 2 gates, and you have to wait for the security line to open since it only opens when a flight is leaving, and there are only 2 a day.  We arrived in Seattle without a hitch at around 5:00 (Seattle time, which is 1 hour ahead of Alaska), and we just stayed in the hotel room, ordered Chinese, and worked on the Day 19 blog.  We were just too tired to finish up Day 20, so we had to wait until we got home to finish it as well as this one.  I'm actually sitting in my living room, listening to my dog snore, doing laundry, and watching TV as I'm writing this.  I'm a little sad being home, but at the same time, 21 days is a long time to be gone.  We couldn't have had a better trip, so there's nothing to regret or wish we'd done.  We are sorry we didn't get to see the northern lights more than we did, but we'll see them one day for sure.

Are we glad we bit the bullet and paid the money for the Lindblad trip?  No question.  It was an experience we couldn't have possibly gotten on a big cruise ship.  Will we do another one?  Absolutely!  We'd love to take their Galapagos Island or the new 23-day Australia/New Zealand trip.  We'll have to wait awhile, though, because it'll take some time to save up the funds, but we've found a new and wonderful way to travel that we'd recommend to anyone.

I'd just like to say, in closing, that we've had a blast writing this blog.  I hope you've enjoyed it too.  I know it takes awhile to read our ramblings (because it took quite a bit of time to write and pick out the photos from the thousands of shots we took!), but I hope it was worth it.  It cemented the experience for us by thinking through what we did so soon after we did it, and I know that my scrapbook(s) will be better for it.  I'd also like to say that traveling with Shannon is my favorite thing to do, bar none.  We never had a moment of tension between us, and each day's wonders were made better by sharing them with her.  Thank you, my darling (Thank you, Mom!)!  Take care everyone, and I can't wait to show you the video!!!!

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