Welcome to Sitka!

Apr 22, 2014 | 0 comments

Friday, 18 April 2014, 17:41.

When I arrive in Sitka, the late afternoon sun is beaming golden and bright on a town I was told would be cloudy and rainy all summer. Perhaps it will be, but on this night the sun shines as if it will shine forever, casting Sitka in a friendly light that beckons me into its charming hold.

In the airport, the ranger who picks me up introduces me to at least a dozen people who work at the park or around town. Everyone is so incredibly friendly and happy to be here. We drive around town and Ranger Ryan points out various places that will inevitably become familiar over the summer, but right now seem like a disorienting blur in all the new things my brain is trying to comprehend.
We stop at the grocery store where I am once again assaulted by outrageous Alaska prices, paying $5.45 for a carton of almond milk, $7.98 for the coffee on sale, and $4.89 for a box of Corn Chex, among other basic items. Seventy bucks later, I have barely a week’s worth of groceries and some essentials that will last me a bit longer. Shoot me.

The only good thing about the grocery store (it’s called “Sea Mart,” ha), is that it has the best view of the ocean in town. This is saying a lot, since the entire island is actually full of incredible views. Everywhere you look on the coast, you see small forested islands against a backdrop of larger, mountainous islands dropping their spruce-covered cliffs into the crashing tides. It’s epic. Mount Edgecumbe, the local volcano, is still half-covered with snow, as are the other tall peaks visible whose names I do not yet know. The scenery is dramatic, picturesque, and sublime all at once, invoking a sense of inspiration in me that I have not felt in a very long time.

My new abode is on the second floor of a government bunkhouse, tucked away in the woods beside Sitka National Cemetery. It’s much homier than my accommodations in Nome and looks as if it has been recently refurbished from some 70s style interior design. My room is a fraction of the size of my old one, but is sufficiently furnished with a twin-sized captain’s bed, mini-fridge, desk, chair, and small closet space. There’s one bathroom shared by the 4 bedrooms, and a small shared kitchen and living room area. There’s one other person rooming here right now, an archaeologist who is performing damage surveys of some sort in the park. The other rangers live in a bunkhouse that’s just next door, but I haven’t been over to it yet.

I think I’m going to like it here. As some people I talked to said, Sitka is a very quiet town. It’s remote, but doesn’t feel too remote, and its plethora of trails, tidal flats, and historic areas leave plenty to do, so I doubt I’ll ever get bored.  


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