The latter part of August, early September, Don and I set sail on the Carnival Spirit heading for Whittier, Alaska. We chose the one-way, 7-day cruise which would dock in Whittier as we wanted to tour Alaska for a week before flying back to Vancouver.

We docked at four cities along the Alaskan panhandle enroute to Whittier (where the ship docks for Anchorage): Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka.

The heart of downtown Ketchikan is Ketchikan Creek which was bank-to-bank with salmon heading back upstream to spawn. This area is where the earliest visitors, the Tlingit natives, set up their summer fish camps. Ketchikan Creek’s shoreline bends and curves past Creek Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare consisting of wooden boardwalks. During prohibition and in later years, buildings on the street housed several bordellos. Today, restaurants, galleries and gift shops are popular stops for visitors. A funicular tram glides up the hillside offering a birds-eye view of the downtown area and the cruise ships in the harbor.


In Juneau we saw the palatial governor’s mansion, home of Sara Palin (this is for those who are following the US presidential election) however the tour guide said no one has ever actually seen her there. Later in our trip we saw the town of Wasala which is just north of Anchorage where Sara grew up and was mayor for two terms.

Skagway was the jumping off point for the Klondike Gold Rush. From there the miners headed into the interior heading for Dawson City. Don and his family lived in Dawson City from 1961 — 1965 while his dad worked as a bush pilot. At that time Dawson City was a ‘working’ ghost town; a lot of the historical buildings were boarded up but all have since been restored.

Sitka is considered to be Alaska’s most beautiful seaside town. The community is located on the west side of Baranof Island named for Alexander Baranof. To Sitka’s east are snow-capped, mountains and volcanoes and to the west the Pacific Ocean that brings Sitka its mild climate. Sitka is a diverse community and offers a combination of Native Tlingit culture, Russian history and the vast Alaskan wilderness.

Sitka was the only port where we wern’t able to dock right in town. We had to get to the shore by tenders (small boats). A funny thing happened in relation to the tenders. As we set sail that evening we saw another cruise ship being pursued by one of the tenders, which kept blowing its horn for attention. Obviously someone on board the ship didn’t realize that one of their boats was still unaccounted for.

A bit of history: In 1799, Alexander Baranof, the general manager of the Russian American Company, moved his operations from Kodiak to Sitka, but was met with a little resistance from the Tlingit Indians. When Baranof was away on vacation in 1804 the Indians burned down his fort and massacred the Russian settlers. On his return, he reclaimed and rebuilt the fort, and for over six decades this was the capital of the Russian Empire in Alaska. The Russians renamed the settlement New Archangel. The Russian Orthodox Church spread its influence into the area and built fortress-like structures on a hilltop overlooking the shoreline; this area is now known as Castle Hill.

Its residents enjoyed the riches of sea otter pelt sales and Sitka was coined the «Paris of the Pacific.» In 1867, after the sea otters had been slaughtered almost to extinction, Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million. The Russian flag was lowered and the Stars and Stripes of America were raised over newly renamed Sitka, Tlingit for «by the sea.» Unfortunately, the thriving community faltered in the next 50 years, and in 1906 the capital of Alaska was moved from Sitka to Juneau. The move was a direct result of the gold rush — Sitka didn’t have any and Juneau did.

From Anchorage we toured the Kenai Peninsula. We would have liked to go to Kodiak Island to see the bears but that would have cost as much as the rest of our tour altogether.

Then we drove north of Anchorage to see Mount McKinley which the natives call Denali Mountain. We were fortunate to see the mountain as 90% of the time it is cloud covered. After a brief stop for a photo opportunity we drove to Fairbanks which is only 180 miles from the Artic Circle. Consequently, the trees were already turning yellow and fall was well on the way.

Being a dye-in-the-wool airplane buff Don was fascinated by the number of planes in Alaska – there are more planes per capita then anywhere else in the world. From the moment we made our first stop in Juneau you were in bush plane country. We spent many an hour sitting and watching the planes come and go. Don wondered how many of the Americans realized that most of the planes we saw coming-and-going were Canadian made. The bush planes of choice, the Beaver and the Otter are Canadian built. Most of the Otters we saw had been converted to turbine engines.

In Anchorage there is a small lake beside the main airport. This lake is encircled with planes, each with their own dock and small utility hut. We had never seen anything like it.

If you are looking for a place to hunt, fish and view wildlife in a beautiful and natural setting head to Alaska.

We highly recommend it.

Запись опубликована в рубрике Hi, from Sheila, Путешествия наших читателей. Добавьте в закладки постоянную ссылку.

19 комментариев на «Alaska»

  1. singer говорит:

    Спасибо,своеобразно,конечно.А то,что о русских помнят лучше всего не в России,это известный факт.Да,а чего с рогоносцем то? Это ему жена что ли так подкузьмила или ченчнуть на что собрался?

  2. Виктория говорит:

    singer, в постах Шейлы нужно отвечать на английском, она не понимает русский ( пока):) Заодно и попрактикуетесь, для этого все и сделано:)

  3. singer говорит:

    Up-sss…Sorry.I see.

  4. Herkunft говорит:

    Nice post Sheila. I never realized that Alaska was that beautiful! And I suppose it was not so cold up there during your visit in September. At least, there is no snow in your pictures. Now if you don’t mind I’ll address a question to our friend in Russian.

    Singer, вот это по английски, пожалуйста: «Это ему жена что ли так подкузьмила или ченчнуть на что собрался?» 🙂

  5. Евгений говорит:

    Thanks a lot for your story and pictures. I am finishing to read John Michener’s Alaska, so all the names you’ve mentioned look very familiar. I’d like it there too 🙂

  6. Павел говорит:

    Hi, Sheila!

    It’s excellent! 🙂 Do you have some more photos?

  7. Дмитро говорит:


  8. Sheila говорит:

    Hi Singer,
    I regret that I do not speak nor write Russian therefore I am unable to read your comment. I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article on Alaska. I hope you found it interesting. Vita tells me that you are a singer. I would love to have been blessed with that talent.
    Take care,

  9. Sheila говорит:

    Hi Herkunft,
    Yes, Alaska is a beautiful state. So fresh looking!!
    I invision that the north of Russia would look very much like the northern regions of North America. Sparsely populated and unspoiled.
    The Alaskan panhandle was rainy but not too cool. Near Fairbanks the trees had turned yellow and red and winter was well on the way.
    Take care,

  10. Sheila говорит:

    Hello Евгений,
    Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the entry. I do have more pictures. I may do another entry about the cruise and add more pictures. There were many aspects to the trip.
    Take care,

  11. Sheila говорит:

    Sorry Павел
    the last response was meant for you. Please refer to my response to Евгений.

  12. Sheila говорит:

    Hi Евгений
    I have read many books by Michener. He is an excellent writer. It is interesting to get more information about an area after you have started to develop an interest. It is interesting that Russia is so near Alaska yet to actually travel from one country to the other is a huge journey.
    Maybe one day you will visit Alaska. We saw many Russian people during our travels through Alaska. Maybe one day it will be you.
    Take care,

  13. Sheila говорит:

    Thank you!!

  14. Дмитро говорит:


    Thank you for thanking me! My comment was quite short though and didn’t really merit a thank you. 🙂 I wrote one word and you wrote three! 🙂 But I am glad you noticed it! 🙂 You really made my day! It may sound pathetic on so many levels but it’s so nice when people respond to you in such a nice way!

    I just really appreciate you taking your time to tell us about your trip to Alaska as well as responding to each comment personally! Very nice! 🙂

    P.S. I would like to hear more about your trip and see more pics!

  15. sergey говорит:

    Hello Sheila! To Me it is very pleasant that there was an opportunity to communicate in English about Canada and the life in Canada. At present I have an opportunity to communicate only in colloquial English and not enough practice in written skills. I have to you an offer — write please yours e-mail and I shall correspond by means of mail because I not always have an output on a site, and access to mail always. I shall be very grateful to you. My e-mail:

  16. Рома говорит:

    This was a real bargain for the US, and absolutely stupid deal for Russia. $7.2 million was a ridiculous price. At that time even the price for low-grade lands in Siberia was about 1400(!) times higher than that Alaska was sold for. If that price had been used the US would have had to cough up more than $10 BILLIONS!

    Sheila, is there any difference between pronunciations of ‘Archangel’ and ‘Arkhangel’? I am wondering because I remember exactly I read somewhere that New Archangel refers to Arkhangelsk (the city near which Baranov was born), and it seems a little strange that different spelling was chosen.

    And, of course, thanks for the entry! Alaskan scenery always reminds me of my homeland 🙂

  17. Виктория говорит:

    Рома (вставляю дальше ответ Шейлы:), I too wonder about some of the decisions made by former rulers and politicians. Some of their decisions were not well thought out and those that come after them have to live with their poor choices.
    In archangel the ‘ch’ would be pronounced as in ‘cheese.’ In Arkhangel, which is not a word I am familiar with, I would guess that the ‘k’ would be a hard ‘k’. Not sure what you would do with the ‘h’ as this is not a common English letter grouping. If I were to attempt to pronounce it with English phonetics it would be read — ‘ark hangel’ (the ‘h’ would have to be grouped with the ‘angel’.
    I hope this is, somewhat, clear.
    Having said all that — so much of the English language is riddled with words from here, there and everywhere. Perhaps the spelling gets altered but nontheless the words have been usurped. I looked in the dictionary and ‘archangel’ comes from the Greek language. That makes me wonder if the Greeks spread their influence into Russia as well.

  18. Ула говорит:

    Oh, seems like I could put in a word about Greek influence! 🙂 Since I am a big fan of Greek language and Greece itself 🙂
    I guess Russian language was influenced by Greek like no other. In the 10th century Russia officially became Orthodox. There was even quite interesting story (way too long to post it here) about knyaz Vladimir choosing religion for his country. So the whole nation was christened, lots of Greek priests took part in this long process brining novelties to all aspects of life. And language was no exception. (That was kind of a veeey short story) 🙂
    I could never imagine how MANY Greek words we use speaking Russian! I started learning Greek and in just few weeks suddenly realized that I was improving my Russian incredibly! 🙂 It was fun! The words I have known forever without thinking much of their origin I ..understood! 🙂 Both scientific terminology and common words we use every day. Actually learning ANY language is fun but Greek is really special.. Oh, it also gave me great advantage in crosswords when it comes to Greek gods, heroes, letters of Greek alphabet etc. Nobody could beat me (joking) 🙂

  19. Рома говорит:

    >I invision that the north of Russia would look very much like the northern regions of North America.
    >Sparsely populated and unspoiled.

    This is very true. And the nature, of course, is quite similar. But this is where the similarity ends. North-eastern part of Russia seems to have been neglected since the beginning of the 20th century’s last decade. Even now I could not tell that the region is thriving despite its being full of natural resources.

    I was born and grew up in Omsukchan (,155.782528&spn=0.05269,0.154324&t=h&z=13), a little town in Magadan region that used to be a nice settlement up to the collapse of the USSR after which its population abruptly dropped from 20k to 6k. This happened because American and Canadian mining companies were allowed to start business in the region. Those who were fortunate to be hired by them started to prosper as their salaries were much higher than those typical for the region at that time. But teachers, doctors, and many others not directly involved in mining were not capable to struggle with rising prices and had to leave.
    The infrastructure necessary for normal life was almost totally destroyed and the state does not seem to be willing to take care about the sorry situation with roads (have not been renovated for ages), education (huge lack of teachers!) and health services (lack of qualified medical personnel).

    I haven’t been to my native town for 12 years now, but my sister and her family still try to survive there. From what she tells about the today’s town I can conclude that the life kind of stopped there. Even rare social and public events still remind of those from ‘communism building’ times 🙂

    But every cloud has a silver lining — there is now much more grayling in the river that flows near the town than there ever used to be! :), perhaps due to the reduced population and modern nature-friendly methods of mining used by foreign companies.

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