Sitka Alaska: Just 90 miles south of Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. A home to black bears, whales, eagles and a whole bunch of fishermen. A land where houses are left unlocked with wallets, credit cards and keys fully exposed, but they remain untouched. To an average American, these actions would seem crazy, and it may sound like these Alaskan’s are asking for robbers, but up there, it’s looked through a ‘Where are they gonna go? It’s an island’ attitude.
This intriguing land was the place I was fortunate enough to discover last summer. This two and a half week trip not only required a lot of money and planning on my parents behalf, but the permission to ride on a plane for about 10 hours to visit an Aunt and Uncle I hadn’t seen in years. Personally, worries of the plane going down was the last thing on my mind.
I did worry about getting lost in the airports or getting sick on the plane, since I had never ridden on one before. I had never been away from family for more than a couple days. I hadn’t seen the inside of an airport in about eight years and I absolutely hated seafood. (This happens to be the staple food for all Alaskans.) I was convinced I was going to starve to death, get swallowed by a whale or better yet, eaten by a bear.
When I arrived in Sitka, I was surprised at the sight. Their airport was about the size of a small school cafeteria, and dead, stuffed animals hung everywhere… freaky. I was ushered ‘home’ and took the advice of going to bed since I had had a long day. It made sense, but not only was my body clock off by about 4 hours.
Aanother problem became apparent the very first night. Since it was summer, the sun never seemed to go down. I often stayed up most of the night, and relied on short naps during the day. I got caught in a new habit of drinking coffee in the morning just to keep up with my 5 year old cousin, Mac, who thought I was his new jungle gym and playmate.
Visiting Alaska was the greatest experience I have ever had. I got to observe the everyday life of a culture I never knew existed. I got to go Halibut fishing, and Salmon dipping.
Often, my Uncle would take the family on long boat tours around the island and it was normal to see a whale far off in the distance, an eagle overhead, an otter or sea lion beside the boat, or a bear off on a shore lazily eating grass. After that trip, the zoo will just never be the same.
As for the food… it was wonderful! I surprised myself with my newly improved appetite, and made a rule to try everything that was put on my plate. The salmon was amazing, and I have decided I am in love with seafood. But in Ohio, it doesn’t do much good because catching a fish as long as you and eating it within hours just isn’t an option.
I left Ohio an inexperienced traveler and came back a girl with a new insight on life, a hunger for adventure and travel and the ability to navigate through almost any airport. Oh, and eating seafood won’t ever be a problem again!
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