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Disembarking National Geographic Quest
Disembarking National Geographic Quest (Mary Curry)

It's never easy to finish a small ship cruise. I always feel like I'm just getting started when it's time to say goodbye. As a mom of 4, having someone prepare all our meals, plan our activities, and clean up after us, there's nothing quite as relaxing as a small ship expedition. That said, it was time to get home to my kids and Sitka is a great place to disembark. It's a small town and the airport handles only one flight at a time so there's much less stress than departure from a larger city. 

Though we didn't expect to have much time on our last day, our guides assured us that we had plenty of time to get to the airport and encouraged us to take advantage of the included tour of Sitka followed by a complementary airport transfer. 
Sitka, Alaska
Sitka, Alaska (Mary Curry)

We visited the Sitka National Historical Park affectionately referred to as 'Totem Pole Park'. In the early 1900s, Alaska's governor, John Brady, collected totem poles from across Alaska to display at the park. Current totem poles on display outdoors are mostly replicas, but some of the original poles can be found in the visitor center which also hosts carvers to periodically replace the poles and demonstrate the carving technique. 
Totem Pole Sitka, Alaska
Totem Pole Sitka, Alaska (Mary Curry)
Totem Pole Sitka, Alaska
Totem Pole Sitka, Alaska (Mary Curry)

The park also boasts a salmon stream. My husband and wandered the trail along the stream hoping to catch another glimpse of the coastal brown bears until good sense prevailed. Seeing bears in a large group with our naturalist to guide us as to the proper distance was one thing. Surprising a bear along this dense forest trail while there was just two of us was quite another. We soon gave up our plan and rejoined the majority of the group on a loop trail dotted with totem poles.

After this final tour, our guides transferred the group back to Centennial Hall where we divided into groups to head to the airport for corresponding flights home. 

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