Past totems and somber battlefield meadows, we meandered through the woods trying to determine the best route to the Alaska Raptor Center. For some reason, the map of Sitka seemed more complicated than actually finding our own way.
We became somewhat disoriented stumbling through the woods, but knew we had to cross a river, so we just followed the sound of running water until we came to a mossy bridge. Just before crossing, we looked in the water and noticed what looked like millions of log-sized moving rocks. As we got closer we realized they were salmon — hundreds upon hundreds of salmon literally jumping out of the water. I squealed with delight. I don’t know why but watching these salmon flapping their way upstream was extremely mesmerizing. I wanted to jump in the (freezing) water and pick them up with my hands like some savage tourist. I didn’t, but I really wanted to.
We probably spent more time than normal watching these fish swim and jump before schlepping through mud to get to the raptor center, arriving just in time to catch the next tour (and just missing the downpour).
There’s not much to say about the raptor center, except that they save and rehabilitate birds, raptors in particular. They have a great facility, lots of bald eagles, and plenty of souvenirs that feature an eagle’s face and the phrase, “I am smiling.” They also have free coffee. Despite being the youngest people there by about 50 years, we had a great time. Birds are cool. Especially ones that look like they want to peck your eyes out.
Quick fact: Did you know that it’s impossible to visually tell the difference between male eagles from female eagles? Females are typically larger, but to truly tell the difference, they have to do a DNA test.