Eight million cups of coffee and a brief stop in Juneau later, we finally arrived in Sitka where we were greeted with more stuffed bears in glass cases, and a tiny airport that reminded us of the one in Cusco, Peru sans pan flute players. We were also greeted with rain.
We checked into the world’s largest motel room (3 queen sized beds seemed a bit excessive for our needs) at the historic Sitka Hotel, changed into our rain gear, and walked a couple blocks to Little Tokyo for sushi. For small town sushi, it was pretty good. For Alaska sushi, given that Alaska has direct access to the best seafood, we were expecting more.
I didn’t want to leave the warmth of that tiny sushi place. The weather turned on and off in bursts of wind and rain. Lack of sleep started to catch up with me, and when a gust of wind blew my crappy umbrella inside out, I wanted nothing more than to retreat back to the hotel and sleep the rest of the day.
But we were in Sitka, Alaska, a town with a historic Russian and Tlingit past. The site of the ceremony in which the Russian flag was lowered and the US flag raised. Mention Sitka to an Alaskan, and he’ll tell you how much he loves the town.
Sitka National Historic Park is Alaska’s oldest national park and was established in 1910 as a National Monument to commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka, as well as to preserve Native totemic art. All that remains of the last major conflict between Europeans and Alaska Natives is the site of the Tlingit fort and battlefield.
It was a peaceful, somewhat eerie, walk through the Totem trail, and along the rocky shores of Crescent Bay. In the end, we were glad for the rain. Sitka was our first encounter with cruise ships traveling on the popular inside passage route. We coined the term “cruisers” for those people who shuffled off their massive cruise ship and flooded the streets during lunch hour to take a few photos, pick up lunch, and do dumb things like take $30 cable car rides. Luckily for us, “Cruisers” were nowhere to be found despite the ominous presence of their mother ship. I guess Cruisers don’t do rain.