Perhaps you travel to exotic regions regularly. To France, if you live in Cincinnati, or to Cincinnati if you live in France. Or to Russia. Or outer space.
Personally I tend to enjoy vast internal travels and only limited travels in what you might call The Real World. But recently I left Oregon and flew south 900 miles for a few days in La Jolla (San Diego) California, and then, four days later, north almost 1000 miles to Sitka, Alaska. (In airplanes, like other people.)
It turns out that San Diego and Sitka are quite different from each other, and also from Oregon.
I liked Sitka.
It’s a little city (about 9000 people) on an island with dramatic close mountains. In summer giant cruise ships, like five story hotels, arrive and briefly double the population of the town. Here is a photo of one, expertly captured through a screened hotel window which I didn’t notice was screened until later.
Sitka has a rustic and wild character, unpretentious and hardworking, a town with the wilderness and sea woven around and through it. Eagles fly overhead and all the trash barrels have big heavy lids to discourage bears.
Enormous black ravens are everywhere, smart and busy.
I watched a group of these birds systematically unpack a box that someone left in the back of an open pickup. They tore open the top, threw out a lot of packaging material, concluded there was none of whatever ravens eat, then left the scene. The local public radio station is called Raven Radio, and raven images occur in native culture and art.
Fishing and tourism seem to be the main things that keep people busy in Sitka. Shops open at 8:00 when the cruise ships are in, and some don’t open at all other days. The harbor is full of boats. Some are home to their owners.
A long time ago Russians arrived and fought the Tlingit natives, took the land and imposed Christianity.
The thing I liked best about the historic Russians is their cemetery.
It’s up on a hill in a deep forest full of native plants, most of which I recognized from Oregon. The unsteady headstones are varied and many, with always more to be found up the paths ahead, mixed in with the trees and ferns.
The native plants were glorious, and I wonder why gardeners don’t use them more in the town.
Sitka is so far north that the days included almost two more hours of light than at home, although the growing season is short. I was told there was no plant nursery here but you can buy plants in season at the hardware store. There is a farmer’s market in summer (later) and I’ve read that some people garden in tunnel greenhouses but I didn’t get to wherever that is happening.
There is concern for growing food locally but still it appears most everything is brought in except for fish. There’s at least one good local brewery (Baranof, same as the name of the island) and a coffee roaster too.
Clematis having a house party.
Cool rocks are everywhere. I wanted to bring some home but they were too big to fit under the airplane seats or even into the overhead thing.
Same problem with bringing the totem poles. They are magnificent.
But back to San Diego: a lot of sun, and nice beaches and good food.
Mostly it was great visiting with the Royals. I learned that the little princess tends to misplace her crown, but it doesn’t bother her sister the queen. (The queen plans a visit north soon, by way of her flying dragon.)
Back home I found the native mock orange all alight…
…and the dog exhausted from the dog boarding place. (We missed him.)