Yesterday it was scientifically proven that it is in fact possible to get sunburned in Alaska. My face is the evidence as it is bright pink.
But more importantly, that means it was SUNNY yesterday, and obviously I spent the entire day outside enjoying it! (Sorry, I really never thought the sun shining would make the top news on my blog, but I’m just too excited). After arriving on Saturday evening, we finally saw the tops of the mountains on Thursday morning and were briefly transported back to our summer days in the lower 48 (“the South” as it’s referred to here. Whoever thought Washington State would be called “the South?”). At 7 a.m. yesterday I wasn’t sure why I woke up so early and easily, but I quickly realized that our room was BRIGHT with sun flooding in our window! BEAUTIFUL doesn’t quite capture how amazing the scenery is here. My prediction of what I would do when the sun came out was pretty accurate, except I didn’t skip on the docks and wave to fishermen, but I most certainly took a bizillion photos. They will be up on Flickr as soon as I figure out my computer/camera issues.
My housemates and I have basically been enjoying an entire week of vacation here in Sitka before we all begin work/training on Monday. We are definitely still in the honeymoon phase of our time here, and we’re loving the chance to relax after orientation last week, sleep a little later than normal, and enjoy Sitka without work yet. Cruise ships have been in every day since Tuesday (basically doubling the size of town), so we’re mingling with the tourists a bit. I am not kidding you, yesterday there was a cruise in town that was for Twilight fans. They all had matching sweatshirts on that said something like “Twilight Fans Alaska Cruise.” I just looked it up online and apparently this was a BIG deal:
Sure enough, their itinerary online shows that they were schedule to be in Sitka yesterday. I’m so honored to have mingled among them. Yikes . . .
On Tuesday night, we met a local our age(ish) who LOVES to hike and is always friends with the JVs who come to town. We mentioned that we were interested in hiking and he called at 8:45 Wednesday morning to extend an invitation for that afternoon. So, all six of us headed out on our first hike in Alaska! We went to the beautiful Herring Cove and hiked back to Beaver Lake. All in all, it was about 5 miles, nothing too strenuous, but a really beautiful way to start off here. We also have hiking invitations for this afternoon and tomorrow if we so desire. Mostly, I’m just really pumped to be back on the trail after recovering from my MCL tear, so any hike is great!
We have also continued to be ridiculously welcomed to town throughout the week. When we returned from our hike on Wednesday afternoon a former JV had left homemade oatmeal butterscotch cookies on our dining room table, and later that night another girl gave us fresh chocolate chip scones. We have done absolutely nothing to deserve any of this, but we are walking into a 20 year reputation of JVs being in Sitka who have been greatly loved and appreciated. Since Alaska is where JVC started in 1956 (and has since become an international organization), JVC has deep roots here and the JVs are highly valued. I think I can say for our entire house, that we are honored to be here and humbled by the welcome we have received.
Three other tidbits:
1) NPR in Alaska (at least in Sitka) is NOT like other places. There is far more bluegrass music playing than I have heard on any other NPR station, with news reported only occasionally. Haven’t they heard of Morning Edition? Why is a country song playing at 8:30a.m.?! Since there are three radio stations to choose from, I’m not sure I have many other options. The country/bluegrass morning music combo proves to me that Alaska has a bit more of a “southern” flavor than I anticipated. More thoughts on that later.
2) I showed my JVC house the film Red Gold (made by Felt Soul Media in 2008) which is about the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay. I learned of this film through a friend at Gonzaga, but thought it would be fun to watch upon our arrival in Alaska since we are trying to learn more about the nature/environmental issues/wildlife of the area. My housemates loved it, and I REALLY recommend this film to everyone (especially if you want to feel very informed and intelligent). It’s only an hour, it’s really well done, and it gives a really beautiful and fascinating glimpse into the lives of Alaskans and the fishing/mining industry. Seriously, it’s good . . . go watch it!
3) Last night we got home to another message from our hiking buddy saying that there was a meteor shower and he invited us all to join his friends to watch it. We didn’t want to hike back too far onto a trail (bears are plentiful this time of year) for it to be dark, so based on their local recommendation we all headed to the “National Cemetery” in town where the stars were visible. A group of about 12 of us headed into the darkness, laid down on the road, and enjoyed watching the meteor shower for a while. Then a car came around the road and the driver told us he was looking for a bear that was reported in the area. Two police cars followed him and came around the road as well. Rather than getting nervous, we got excited because our new favorite thing here is to read the Sitka Police Blotter in the Daily Sitka Sentinel. The reports are hilarious, and we can only hope to make it in one day! A couple days ago, the reported crime was that someone stopped in a man’s garden, picked his raspberries, both the red and the green ones, and then trampled his potatoes on his way out. When police arrived he was gone. Needless to say, when the police arrived in the cemetery, we thought that maybe our hopes of appearing in the police blotter were coming true since our crime was almost as good as stealing red and green raspberries! All they did was tell us to go home because we were on government property after dark. So we all headed back, satisfied with our meteor viewing, and hoping to see our incident in the paper tonight!
Obviously we’re off to a great start here in Sitka! Thanks to all who are following along.