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Getting There

reflection of waterfall at Mendenhall Lake
reflection of waterfall at Mendenhall Lake
I had promised my granddaughter, Aspen, a trip after she finished the eighth grade. In January of this year, I began looking for a place to take her. After much searching, I called Adventure Life to see if they did Alaskan trips. I had taken three trips with Adventure Life and felt good about traveling with them. I was excited to learn that they did Alaskan Dream Cruises, which are with small ships. My youngest son had gotten a travel bonus at work and I convinced him to go with us. Finally, after anticipating for five months, my oldest son, Cord, drove us to Austin on Friday, June 21st, to catch our flight to Seattle. We eased through security at the airport although I was randomly picked to have the palms of my hands scanned. Our flight left at 6:34 and we landed in Seattle at 8:36. We were in a different time zone, two hours earlier than central time. We waited about 20 minutes for a shuttle to take us to our room at Sleep Inn. We were very hungry so we walked across the way to an Ihops beside the hotel. We got to bed about 11:30 and got up at 3 AM in order to catch the shuttle to the airport. Our flight to Sitka was to leave at 6:15. The plane departed on time and it was two hours to Juneau. We stayed on the plane as some people got off and others got on. The flight from Juneau to Sitka took about 22 minutes. An Alaskan Cruise representative drove us to totem Square where we would spend the night. We drove over the O'Connell Bridge which connects the town of Sitka on Baranof Island to the airport. Before 1971, when the bridge was completed, the commute was achieved by a ferry service. Now, we were three hours earlier than our time at home in the Hill Country. I immediately fell in love with Sitka. Sitka, formerly known as New Archangel under Russian rule is situated on the west side of Baranof Island. It is a quaint and beautiful seaside community, considered by many to be the most beautiful seaside town in southeast Alaska and I would not disagree. On the east, I saw majestic snow-capped mountains. Looking around, I saw stately spruce trees and fishing boats. I could tell this town was immersed in history and culture. Kitka was home to the Tlingit Indians long before the Russians or Americans ever trod here. We walked to Victoria's Hotel and Restaurant as we were very hungry and not many restaurants were open. It was very crowded so we walked round a little and later came back there to eat. With our appetites satiated, we shopped some. It was misting a little off and on. Aspen found a cane for me to get for Cord in a most wondrous fur store. The furs were splendid and I found sea otter fur to be he softest that I have ever touched and also very expensive. We then walked back to the hotel and checked in. Later, we walked up the beautiful stone steps to Castle Hill. This is the historical site of Tlingit and Russian forts. In 1867, the Russian flag was lowered and the American flag raised, marking the transfer of Alaska to the U.S. It is now a National Historic Landmark and there are no buildings there today. Toward evening, we went back to the hotel and ate there. I had a hamburger on a potato bun and it was one of the best I have ever eaten. Knowing we had a full day ahead of us , we retired early. Tomorrow, we would tour some of the sites with our guide and board our ship, the Baranof Dream.

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