CNHI News Service


January 16, 2013

Sitka - Alaska’s First Capital


One of the most vexing problems I had during my Holland America Alaska cruise was picking how I’d spend my time while in port. In the catalogue of possibilities, I counted 21 shores excursions in Sitka alone.

Broken down in three categories, they include adventure tours like salmon and halibut ocean sport fishing, volcano coast exploration by ocean raft, wilderness sea kayaking, photography tours, hiking and mountain biking, even snorkeling.

Wildlife tours include beach and wildlife exploration by jet cat, sea life discovery by semi-sub and a look at the Alaska Raptor Center, sea otters and Fortress of the Bear, a bear rescue center where the inhabitants roam in a natural setting while visitors view them from a covered area.

Knowing that Sitka (New Archangel) was the original colonial capital when the Russians controlled the area, I hit on a sightseeing tour that started with a stop at Sitka National Historical Park, which explores the culture of the native Tlingits, who lived in the area for over 50 centuries.

Located on the outskirts of town, one of the park’s main enticements is the array of large, colorful totem poles carved by the Tlingit and Haida peoples and erected along a pathway that wanders through the rainforest.

I discovered that totems come in four categories. Crest poles identify the ancestry of a family. History poles record the achievements and stories of a clan. Legend poles focus on folklore or actual events, and memorial poles honor worthy individuals.

During my look around, I could hear singing coming from the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi, a building constructed in the style of a Tlingit clan house that serves as the home of the Naa Kahidi Dancers.

Back in town, I explored the Russian Bishops House, one of the few surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in North America. Completed in 1842 by Bishop Innocent Veniaminov, who governed the Orthodox Church in an area that extended from Alaska to the Kamchatka Peninsula, the two-story log building painted a mustard yellow with a red roof dominates the downtown landscape around Crescent Harbor

Text Only
  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • weightloss.jpg The scales of injustice: Weight loss differs between men, women

    You're not imagining it: There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise.

    August 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.09.32 PM.png VIDEO: Stars react to Robin Williams' death

    Prior to the premiere of “The Expendables 3” in Los Angeles, several movie stars shared their thoughts on the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Japan, ramen aficionados worry their favorite dish is coming off the boil

    "The ramen boom has ended," said Ivan Orkin, a New Yorker who first traveled to Japan in the 1980s and now owns two noodle-soup restaurants in Tokyo. "A boom implies that there are new avenues and new growth to pursue, and that's not the case in Japan anymore."

    August 11, 2014

  • AdelleWaldman.jpg The joy of being a single male

    Here's a truism that also happens to be true: Single men are seen as happy-go-lucky bachelors having too much fun to settle down, while single women are often seen as sad and bereft creatures desperate to snag a man.

    August 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dartmouth.jpg Break the college cartel

    Ask liberals why college is getting so expensive, and they'll probably tell you it's a case of government neglect. Ask conservatives the same question, and they'll tell you the opposite.

    August 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 3.43.11 PM.png Your brain helps you judge a face before you even see it

    In a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers report that the amygdala — a part of the brain associated with decision making, memory and emotion — plays a part in telling us who to trust almost instantly.

    August 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140805-AMX-PORK5.jpg 'Baconholics' undeterred by 30-year high pork prices

    With images of pigs and barbecued meats tattooed on his left calf, Brian Polak is doing what he can to cope with the highest price of bacon in three decades. The 41-year-old self-proclaimed "baconholic" now often cures his own at home to help reduce costs.

    August 5, 2014 1 Photo