Thursday, July 20, 2017

The 49th State Is My 49th State

Welcome to Sitka, Alaska, the one-time Capital of Russian North America
I finally made it to Sitka, Alaska.  Twenty-four hours late.  With Alaska now checked off, I have been to 49 of the 50 states, if you count the drive through the oceanside sliver of New Hampshire on I-95 (and I do).

With the nasty thunderstorms that rolled through Las Vegas yesterday, the first leg of my flight from Las Vegas to Sitka (there are no nonstops) was postponed long enough that I was guaranteed to miss my connection to Sitka.  So the five-day long weekend getaway vacation was truncated to a four-day.  Three-day, actually, since the last day is just flying back home from Alaska starting painfully early in the morning.  But three is better than zero, one or two.  And I'm in Alaska.

And Alaska is different from the Lower 48.  Case in point.  This sign at the car rental counter is the first time I've seen a car rental company charge a cleaning fee for fish smell.  Or animals in the trunk.

And it's a special year to be in Alaska.  It's the 150th anniversary of when we kicked them Russkies out of our hemisphere.  Also known as:  the 150th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Czarist Russia.  Seward's Folly.

I rolled into town about 9 o'clock local time.  Time for a short stroll around the town.

Note I am calling it a "town."  The front desk clerk at my hotel corrected me when I called Sitka a "city."  She insisted:  "town."

I was about two blocks into my walk (which meant I had covered a significant portion of the downtown) when I spied one of the great landmarks of Sitka.

St. Michael's Cathedral, the first Russian Orthodox Church in North America.  With a really loud party-trolley-thing in front of it.

I think it was supposed to be motorized, rather than bicycle-style pedal-power, but there were people pushing it up the hill.  And whooping it up.  So I think sobriety is optional.  Most likely discouraged.

But back to church.

This is not the original St. Michael's, unfortunately, as that burnt to the ground in 1966.  But the green domes make this still the signature building in all of Sitka.

Looking at it from the front:

And here's a shot with more perspective:

So I start walking away from the church toward the harbor area and there it is again:

That damn loud party-trolley thing.  Although it now appears to be moving on its own volition.  It's like it's stalking me.  Stalked in Sitka.  By a loud party-trolley thing.  Add that to the list of things I never thought would happen to me.  But have.

I think this is called Totem Square.  It's got a Totem.  And it's square.  And it's right next to the Totem Square Hotel.  So I'm going to use deductive reasoning here.

This is the same photo as above, "landscape" rather than "portrait."

The building in the background is the Sitka Pioneer Home.  It's actually an assisted living center.  Serz.

This is a view of the harbor.

If you enlarge this photo and squint really hard, you will see Mount Edgecumbe, a (hopefully) dormant volcano.  It gets compared to Mount Fuji in Japan in appearance.

Another view of the harbor.  Sans Mount Edgecumbe.

And here's the lovely O'Connell Bridge:

At this point, the light is growing dim.  I would say that the shadows were growing longer, but there was no sunlight to cause a shadow to be cast.  So it was time to scurry back to the luxury hotel accommodations I was lucky to be able to book:

The Super 8 of Sitka.

Tomorrow I will have only the morning to more fully explore Sitka.  Then I catch the ferry to Juneau to see more of the 49th State which is my 49th state.  Only one state remains to complete the set of 50:  the 50th State.  Hawaii.  But that's for another year.  This is 2017!

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