September 17-18, 2015 – Cruise to Alaska (Hubbard Glacier-Sitka)
Thursday morning we woke to wind, rain and colder weather. We are sailing to Hubbard Glacier today and were hoping for it to clear but unfortunately, it stayed bad all day. Consequently our views coming to Hubbard Glacier were not very good. If you stayed out on the deck very long you were soon wet and cold.
Rex braved the weather long enough to get some fairly good pictures but soon retreated inside to get warm. We were disappointed that we did not have better views of the glacier nor did we hear the ice cracking – that may be due to the wet weather. We were amazed that our ship could get as close to it as we did.
We attended the evening entertainment after dinner which was a violinist/comedian. He was a very good violinist but we did not enjoy his comedy routine. Afterwards we went to the theatre and watched the movie – The Woman in Gold. This was an excellent movie starring Helen Mirin and was about an American Jewish widow who sued the Austrian Government for the return of family art that was stolen from then in WWII.
Friday morning we arrived in Sitka where we had a great view of Crescent Harbor from our stateroom.
After breakfast we took an excursion called Historic Sitka.
We took a school bus to the Sheldon Jackson Museum which houses the oldest collection of Native and Inuit artifacts in Alaska. After enjoying the exhibits we visited St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The original cathedral was built in 1848 by Bishop Innocent Veniaminov but was destroyed by a fire in 1966. The cathedral was rebuilt to its original form, size and style and was consecrated in 1976.
During the fire, which destroyed one third of downtown Sitka, many local people rushed into the cathedral and formed human chains to remove most of the artwork and artifacts.
We next visited the Sitka National Historic Park which was set aside as a Federal Reserve in 1890 and established as a park in 1910. This is the oldest national park unit in Alaska. This is the site of a Tlingit fort and a decisive battle between the Russian colonists and the Tlingit Indians in 1804. This battle marked the last major Native resistance in Sitka to European domination of Alaska. We took a short hike to the Indian River where we saw a number of dead and dying salmon.
Exhibits inside the museum focus on the Tlingit culture. Outside the museum are many replicas of deteriorating totem poles but these two original poles are displayed inside the museum. The Park Service shares the Visitor Center with The Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center where artists demonstrate traditional southeast Alaska Native arts. We watched a woman weaving a basket and a gentleman doing some carving.
Our final tour stop was at Centennial Hall to watch the New Archangel Dancers perform dances from the original provinces of Russia. We enjoyed this all female group as they performed a number of lively dances. It is all female because when they formed in the 1960’s the original members asked their husbands and other males to join them but were scoffed at. After they became well known and started getting invitations to perform around the world, the men wanted to join but the women told them to get lost. These women can do it all and don’t need men to perform the hard jumps, squats, spins, etc.
We enjoyed our tour of Sitka, learning its history and seeing the town. After dinner Rex was not feeling well so we spent the evening in our stateroom.