Sitka, Our Last Stop in Alaska
Today was to be our last day in Sitka and, in fact, Alaska. After over one month here we are going to turn and head south, stopping in a few places in British Columbia. Finally rousing ourselves near noon, we dressed for the weather and headed into town for a walk and lunch.
There was only one other ship here today, but it was a small explorer-type so we didn’t see too many others out and about. Walking came before food, so we set out a different way and looked for the various cemeteries that we saw on the map. First was the Finnish-Lutheran, which was very small. Only a couple of graves, but an interesting iron cross over one.
A pond in the middle of town
The Bayview Pub had such good food that we decided to return. They didn’t disappoint. Back downstairs for another small purchase in the great jewelry/gift shop and then we were off to the Raptor Center a mile or so out of town.
Begun in 1980 by two concerned Sitkans caring for an injured eagle, the center has grown over the years to its 17-acre campus bordered by the Tongass National Forest and the Indian River. Each year they treat between 100-200 raptors (birds of prey) that have been injured by gunshot wounds, car accidents or other incidents usually associated with man. There is a resident veterinarian who performs surgeries and a very enthusiastic staff who are quite passionate about their work. The goal is to be able to rehabilitate the birds so they can be returned to the wild. The 20,000 square foot Bald Eagle Flight Training Center is a screened facility with one way glass where the eagles spend time being observed and practice their flying skills. Some birds are too damaged to return to nature and live out their lives in comfort here. We saw a couple of eagles who were waiting for relocation to zoos.
Female eagles are larger than the males – this is one waiting for relocation to a zoo in the US
Using what we have come to appreciate as Alaskan humor, the staff have named the birds accordingly. One we saw that had been wounded by a gun was called “Winchester” while another who crashed into a power line is named “Volta”. We spent quite some time in the training center watching the approximately 20 eagles on perches. They had finished a lunch of fresh salmon, provided by local fishermen, and were a bit lethargic. But one by one they began to stretch their wings and fly from one end of the enclosure to the other. They were fascinating to watch and a young man who worked there answered all of our questions.
We then moved outside to see some of the other birds who will live out their lives here. The owls were my favorites.
On the way back to town, we stopped at the Sitka National Cemetery which held graves from the mid-19th century to World War II and beyond. It’s very well maintained.
A view of the main street from the boardwalk
Aside from a couple of sprinkles, it hadn’t rained the entire day. However, that was about to change as we had seen on the weather station that the remnants of a Pacific typhoon were about to arrive, dumping up to 7″ of water on Sitka. We were pretty happy that we were leaving tonight. Walking through the parking lot on the way to the tender I couldn’t resist this picture of a car that had been parked there the 3 days we were here. I think it says it all about the moisture here.
Departure was to be at 8:00 after we officially cleared out of the US. Tomorrow would be a day at sea on our way to Prince Rupert, BC.