August 9, 2022
Yesterday and today are big cruise ship days in Sitka. When more than 5,000 visitors are scheduled, the city closes Lincoln St. to cars and trucks and opens it for tourists. At the beginning of the season, it was 3,000 scheduled visitors but the ships are not running full this season, so I guess 5,000 is the new 3,000.
I like it on days when the street is closed and venture out early, before most of the visitors make it into town and late, after most have gotten on the busses to catch their afternoon tea, drinks or trivia game on board. Sitka has almost a festival atmosphere on those days. Food trucks and booths are out, allowing young entrepreneurs a venue to start a business. Musician friends, mostly retired, earn some extra money busking on the street. Ted even has a QR code that allows people to throw virtually money into his hat using their cell phones.
Because of the no vehicle rule the police have a new gadget to enforce no parking. It’s called “The Barnacle.” It attaches to the windshield, blocking vision. The miscreant can pay the fine using the cell phone (the police are as up to date as the buskers), and the police come and remove the barnacle. If the driver tries to move the car without paying the GPS on the barnacle alerts the cops. The officer applying the device said that it was better than the boot because sometimes people don’t notice the boot and try to drive off and damage their tires, wheels or perhaps their running gear.
The cruisers were lucky yesterday and today. Over the weekend we had an “Atmospheric River.” (The weather bureau has become big on metaphors.) That meant on Friday night we had between two and a half and three inches of rain, and it continued until a respectable sunset Sunday night and a sunny Monday. Well, weekend visitors got to see why we call it a rain forest. On Monday they saw the green without getting wet.
And the visitors fanned out from downtown to go whale watching, bear watching, eagle watching and totem pole watching. A group is taking a picture of Tommy Joseph and Will Peterson carving at Sitka National Historical Park.
High summer in Sitka.