Bald eagles are plentiful, a fitting symbol for this state, where wide-open spaces and rugged individualism are also prevalent. The people couldn’t have been nicer. We felt welcomed wherever we went and it didn’t feel phony, like they were just glad to see our wallets, not us.
The Tlingit tribe were the original natives of the areas we visited, and they have a strong presence today, both in numbers and in influence on the culture. They are proud to show off their heritage through dancing, story-telling and crafts. Totem poles abound and are still being carved by artists today. We learned that these poles were originally kind of like painting your name on your mailbox, only much more elaborate and, well, beautiful. The animals on the pole tell the world what clan and families the residents of that household come from.
Here’s a very old one, with a current work in progress behind it. And yes, that is a miniature Abe Lincoln on the top. (Hubby’s the guy in the blue shirt.)
The next day our cruise ship docked in Juneau. This city is built into the side of a mountain and the tram ride up to the top was, you guessed it, breathtaking. Sorry, it’s the word that just keeps coming up, no pun intended. 🙂
One can only reach Juneau, the capital of Alaska, via boat or plane. I thought this rather ridiculous in this day and age, until I learned that it is surrounded on three sides by a humongous ice field many miles deep, and on the fourth side is water. Thus, no roads in or out. Nothing brings home the power of Mother Nature quite like a glacier. This is the Mendenhall glacier, just a few miles outside of Juneau. The chunks of ice that break off are called ‘calves.’
Our second favorite port of call was Skagway, a town at the northernmost tip of the Inside Passage, which is a series of inlets off the Gulf of Alaska. There we were introduced to the gold rush era of Alaska via an amusing mock-up of Liarsville, USA. Apparently during the gold rush, the members of the press were put off by the daunting journey into the snow-covered mountains of gold country. So they set up shop at the foot of the mountains and made up their stories that they sent back to their papers in the lower 48. Liarsville was also the last place that aspiring gold miners could stock up on supplies, get that sore tooth pulled and satisfy that last itch with a buxom prostitute, before the long cold trek into the wilderness.
I had a heck of a time deciding on just a few pictures to show you from Liarsville. My husband voted for the buxom prostitute, with dollar bills tucked into her cleavage, but I decided our bus driver deserved to be immortalized. He just looks scary; he was actually quite nice.
Our all-time favorite port of call was the delightful little town of Ketchikan, where we discovered a bunch of shops, a bit off the beaten path along a canal. Even hubby got into shopping for souvenirs and smoked salmon.
After another day of gorgeous scenery along the Inside Passage, we docked in Vancouver, British Columbia.
We plan to go back to Alaska soon to explore Denali National Park, and maybe even brave the cold of the north up past the Arctic Circle.
Have you been to Alaska? Or other places that inspired you? How about the Grand Canyon. Check out mp author, Shannon Esposito’s recent trip to that awe-inspiring monument to Mother Nature!
Share with us some of the places you have been that awed and inspired you.
*This is the first in a new series on the misterio press blog, People and Places. Also coming soon, a series on what readers really care about in fiction.