A Day in June, Sitka, Alaska

Sitka has no highway connection anywhere.  We have a 14 mile road system on an island the size of Delaware.  We are not on the inside passage so a lot of ferries do not stop.  When a ferry does stop it is 9 hours to Juneau or Petersburg.  We are remote.   Friends often ask “When are you coming back to civilization,” even other Alaskans living in Anchorage.  They mistake remote for uncivilized.   Here’s an account of our civilized Sunday a week ago.

In the morning went took a boat excursion, organized by the Sitka Conservation Society, to look at the intertidal zone a little away from our 14 mile road system.  There was a minus tide.  Forty of us enjoyed cocoa while cruising to an area near Frost Reef where we were dropped off, to be picked up in 3 hours. As the boat backed away from the beach its prop became fouled in kelp and disabled.  While we beach combed the captain called for a “rescue vessel.”  The excursion leader told us we were going to be delayed for a while and we spontaneously started singing “Three hour cruise” although at no time were we out of cell phone range.   The “rescue” boat arrived, our boat was fixed and we got off the beach about an hour late.  The tide had come up so we had less far to walk to get to the boat than we did to get off.   No one I spoke with knew the name of the cove so decided to nominate “Gilligan’s Cove” or perhaps “Three Hour” cove to the geography cops as a suggested name.   No one got grumpy, no one was upset, and as a reward whales greeted us as we motored out of the cove.

We followed that adventure with a brunch with friends at the Sitka Hotel — real maple syrup.

Later in the afternoon we attended a concert by the Sitka Summer Music Festival.  It was an innovative idea for a family concert, a solo, a duet, a trio, a quartet, a quintet and a sextet played on instruments made as far back as the 17th century in a hall representing a Native American culture millennia old.   We heard the music of Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, and the youngest ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, Caroline Shaw.  During the Glazunov two little girls two rows in front started “conducting.”  During the Tchaikovsky they played “air cello” intently watching Andrew Yee and Zuill Bailey, imitating their finger work and vigorous bowing making this a not so “safe sextet” for the little brother sitting next to the girl channeling Andrew.

An Ice cream social followed, musicians mixed with the rest of us enjoying root beer floats and chatting about instruments, chamber music and fishing.  We had an invitation for a salmon bake but I was tired because I was coming off an infection so I sat on my deck watching the sea as the day dissolved into fog just before sunset

The pictures are from the intertidal trip.  At the end of the Sitka Summer Music Festival I will post the best pics from the festival.

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