The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Today I planned to finish up my AK trip blogging with the last leg of the trip.  Prince Rupert, BC, its cannery museum and the Frasier River’s stretch down to the US border offered some of the prettiest and interesting  images I captured.

Alas…those files are nowhere to be found. Sifting through folders, feeling my pulse quicken, looking on all memory cards/thumb drives and my back-up external drive they are nowhere to be found. Anywhere.  Nowhere.

Anger mixing with sadness I’ve realized my photos are a mess.  Though divided into yearly folders, and subfolders event-specific, comparing the hard drive’s contents to my back-up drive I see inconsistencies.  Operator error nuked those photos which pisses me off to no end.

I need a better system.  Too mad to deal with it now.

More later.

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Mo’ AK – Totem Poles and Wooden Streets – Ketchikan

It’s coming up on a year since I left AK for CA, a ridiculously long time to get these posts completed.

My first step onto AK land was Ketchikan.  Read about that here.   This time I took an extensive walking tour.

Must share this oddity, a huge bus with tiny cubbies in it. Is that strange or what?  Are they sleeping compartments? It was on the ferry.

Ketchikan’s known for its stairs.  Some are labeled as streets.  This view looks down upon town, a blend of trinket shops, galleries, museums and a pretty waterfront.

Some streets are wooden and on supports:

Another view of town looking across a harbor:

Creek Street, pure tourist attraction, but lined with some galleries containing local art. There, a print by a Tlingit artist of a raven spoke to me. It now graces my living room.

Once the red-light district, men used a back trail of sorts to discreetly access the brothels.

It was called Married Man’s Trail.  I followed that path up the hill and eventually wound up at a lovely museum. More on that in a bit.

I saw my first fish ladder.  It allows fish to bypass the steep rapids under that bridge. Wish I’d seen them in action.

My favorite Ketchikan attraction was the Totem Heritage Center.

The Totem Heritage Center houses numerous totems as well as old (and contemporary) weavings, rugs, masks, beaded objects, etc.  The totems are from the 19th century and were retrieved, in the 70’s, from  Tlingit villages at Tongass and  Village Islands and Haida villages on Prince of Wales Island.  The residents of these places moved to towns like Ketchikan in the early 20th century.  Some are severely weathered, some have traces of original paint, others have bits of moss on them, a testament to the wet climate they came from.

Never used for religious or iconic purposes, totems were carved to honor people, events, or show lineage and social standing of the owners.

This photo of a photo puts them into context in a scene from a village.

Though the figures on the totems may be recognizable, only the creator knows the true meaning/purpose of the imagery.  When raised, the totem’s story was revealed, its meaning passed down through oral history. Some tales are lost.  Carved from Red Cedar, all parts of this tree were used for baskets, mats, ropes, clothing, canoes and building materials.

Some are preserved in climate-controlled cases:

A quick trip up the road (only one road there) passed the working harbors containing more fishing boats and float planes.  Here I watched an eagle, with fish in talons, slowly circle for elevation gain up and away from the water.  This image is etched into my mind.  The eagles…so many and mesmerizing to watch.

Ketchikan was the last SE AK stop.  The final Alaska Marine Highway stop was  Prince Rupert, B.C.  which I’ll get to next. How I’d love return!

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Alaska Continues – A Watery World – Sitka Part Two

This Post takes you through downtown Sitka.

Much of my time I spent perusing the shore, looking at harbors and boats, just enjoying the smells and sounds around me.

Coastal AK’s water is an umbillical cord of sorts for supplies and livelihood.  Boats and planes seemed to outnumber people.  (Probably not but it sure seems like it.)

This post focuses on waterfront sights as well as Sitka National Historic Park and its Totem Poles.

The harbors have a mix of fishing and recreation boats.  I’ve since learned it’s good luck to have  a boat with two names.

Gray sky and water made the bright colors vivid.

Large(r) commercial fishing boats:

The rusty, crusty ones I find interesting.  Some seem to have add-ons and modifications, reminding me of quirky mountain homes. I see some knitting project color inspiration in this one:

There are  trawlers, long liners, trollers and gillnetters. I remember a neat sign showing each type of boat and how to ID it by its set-up.

Float planes are everywhere.  The sound of them taking off and landing I found comforting.  A return trip including a flight is on my bucket list.

There were tugs pushing barges:

At the south end of town sits Sitka National Historic Park.  A beautiful visitor center houses artifacts such as Chilkat weavings, original Totem Poles and Russian Orthodox icons.  There’s also a superb film.  On the grounds a loop walk through the trees takes one past numerous Totems.  Many are replicas of originals brought here in the early 1900’s.

Here, in 1804, the Tlingits and Russians fought a bloody battle which, I believe, the Tlingits lost only after running out of ammunition.  A clearing in the park denotes the place the Kiks.adi Fort stood.

In a shed one was being restored:

Some peeked through emerald-green trees:

Inlaid metal:

This park’s walk is peaceful and serene.  Detritus, damp and scented lay under coastal, temperate rain forest trees.  A spiritual and quiet place I’d like to return.  How I’d love to revisit Sitka.  But I had a ferry to catch the next day with the next port being Ketchikan.

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Alaska Continues – Playing Favorites – Sitka Part One

Sitka was my favorite stop in SE AK.  When I revisit the area I’ll spend more time here.  8800+ people call Sitka home.  The heart of  Sitka lies on the west side of Baranof Island with air/ferry access only.

Sitka is a hotbed of well-preserved Russian settlement history, who  may have landed here as early as  1741.  The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799.  Bloody battles between native Tlingit and the Russians ensued.  Russia kept its grip on Sitka until 1867 when AK was purchased by the US.

“Sitka” is derived from a contraction of the Tlinggit “Shee At’ika” which means “People on the Outside of Baranof Island.”

Looking towards downtown Sitka from a harbor.  St. Michael’s Cathedral is the steeple in the middle:

The Cathedral of St. Michael sits in the center of  downtown.  Built in 1848,  it burnt to the ground in 1966. Fortunately, most precious icons from within were saved.  It was restored to its original appearance.

Another view towards downtown from a fish hatchery close to the hostel I stayed at:

Houses varied from charming and old to battered and weathered.

What would a tourist trinket shop be without fur bikinis? Remember the red one I spotted in Skagway?

Another downtown sight, the Sitka Pioneer Home, is an Assisted Living Facility for the elderly. It was surrounded by pretty gardens.

A peek down Katlian St, a waterfront st. draped from above with innumerable lines.  One the waterside were rows of shipping and fish warehouses.  Funky homes, some old and boarded up lined the uphill side.  It was a fascinating stroll.

Wikipedia told me 18% of Sitka’s population earns a living through the fishing industry.  Many natives there practice subsistence living through fishing, hunting, and gathering.

In contrast, the end of town near the Sitka Int’l Youth Hostel and former Sheldon Jackson College were more upkept neighborhoods with homes like this pretty number:

It’s wet in Sitka.  86″ of averageyearly precipitation falls, 30″ in snow over an average 250 days. Monthly temps average 35 degrees in January and 57 in August.  I remember light rain to drizzle most of my three days there.

Vegetation is lush and vivid green there, bright in contrast to the gray sky and blue-gray water.  I found it beautiful and see how Sitka’s earned the nickname ‘Jewel of the SE.’  It’s rich with cultural history and visual appeal.


Saw a performance at the Tlingit Clan House by the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Dancers.  People of all generations (including babies strapped to mothers’ chests) performed storytelling through dance and song.  It was exceptional. I recommend visiting them if you travel there.  They also sell local crafts in their giftshop.

I walked for miles and miles on that stop, welcomed from all the time on a boat, seeing cultural sights.  There are innumerable options for travelers interested in kayaking, flying to remote cabins, hiking as well to trips to really out-of-the-way places.

A visit to and walk around the Sitka National Historic Park  (and it’s collection of totems displayed outside) as well as special finds in the local harbors will  be the focus of my next post on Sitka.

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Alaska Continues – Juneau With Jackie

On the ferry ride up to AK last winter I met Jackie.   Knitters have an intrinsic radar, I believe, which finds other knitters.  We join, knit and bond.  Jackie was knitting  a wee little EZ  baby cardigan and I was working on the red Acer cardigan that shall become my sister Rachel’s.  For some reason I thought it would fit me.  Denial!

Once I knew I’d pass through Juneau I got in touch and we made plans to get together.

Up the Mt. Roberts Tram  from downtown we rode.  Once on top we hiked to a lovely vantage point.

And we knit!

It was a gorgeous, sunny, warm day.  Looking down you see the Gastineau Channel, I believe.  That may be the Chilkat Range in the background.   The Coast Guard were having a big to-do and training event.  The pics of an impressive helicopter and boat operation did not turn out.

No bears. Thank goodness!

Check out this phenomenon called SNOW CROOK.  Snow sliding down the hillside bends young saplings influencing their ‘adult’ shape.  The same may happen with up slope prevailing winds.  Also in the spot a process called LAYERING may have occurred, where lower sprouts from the tree root into the ground, sending up new trunks.  Such forests can be full of clones.  Neat, eh?

One thing I noticed about AK was the explosion of flowers that summer.  As soon as that sun stayed up they went gangbusters.  Sigh…wishing I was there, now.

Along this trail many flourished…

Jackie took me on a local yarn shop hop and shared her and her husband’s cozy home with me that night.  It was a delightful stop on my big trip down south.

Thanks a million, Jackie!


Finally! AK to CA – Part 6 of ? – Onward to Juneau – Roses and Spawning Salmon

After Skagway I ferried to Juneau.

If you have the chance take the AK Marine Hwy Ferry up to AK.  It’s not fancy, there’s no on-board spa, but the berths are clean, the food is decent (you can also pack your own) and you’ll meet plenty of locals.  Plus, it’s relatively reasonable, esp. if you are sans car.  Some tent camp on the upper level and some sleeping bag it on the floor. That saves money as well.

On the way up to AK in February I’d made a new friend, Jackie, on the boat.  An unwritten ancient code, knitters are programmed to seek each other out and knit.  Sometimes, life-long friends are made this way.

Last spring’s  winter trip north was cold and snowy.   This time around temps were much warmer. Most times I could sit on deck, read, knit and enjoy the sights.

Eldred Rock Lighthouse not too far from Haines:

Point Retreat Lighthouse standing fast on the tip of Admiralty Island:

I made a couple stops before connecting with Jackie.

First up was the Shrine of St. Therese.  A place of quiet, contemplative beauty I walked the grounds.

Strolling the gardens, my love affair with old-fashioned roses rekindled. Along the hiking trails up there, wild roses’ scent clings as you pass. Delish!

The come in white!

Next, farther up Juneau’s only road (which traces the coast), a beach I can’t find the name to.  A pretty place to relax I pulled out a knitting project and had a picnic.

Also found and ate my first wild strawberries. Tasting nothing like farmed ones, the color so bright, I can still taste them.

The grand finale…

I watched salmon, following that primeval urge, swimming up Sheep Creek to spawn.  I could have watched it for hours.  Dusk was approaching and I figured hungry bears may approach as well so I didn’t stay too late.

This was a moving moment for me.  I believe they were Pink salmon, AKA “Humpback” salmon but not positive.  A life cycle was ending (and hopefully starting) there, many dead fish lined the creek edges.  Eagles sat close by, feasting.

I took a video with my camera to capture the movement of the fish in the water.  Unfortunately, I was moving as well!  Please pardon the shaking. It’s 2 1/2 minutes long and shows more than any still photo I took.

A small black bear faltered onto the road on the way back to town.  After loping along it clawed its way up a steep bank.  I hotelled it that night and had a blast with Jackie the next day.  More on that later.


Just Say “No” to Scopolamine Patches

Last summer my sister Karen and her hubby Wes visited me in AK.  We took a trip to Seward and Homer.  In Seward we took a boat ride tour.

Big water can make me seasick.   Medium water, not bad but I may take a half a “Non-drowsy” (yah, right) Dramine tab just in case.  Little water, no problem.

My previous boat ride out there was just fine.  Unnecessarily worried,  I used a Scopolamine patch behind my ear “just in case.”  Man…never again.

My mom and dad are here visiting me in CA. Showing them these pics prompted roars of laughter.

You may need a laugh today.

Once embarassed by these pics, I’m over it.  Figgered I’d share.  Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself life’s no fun!

It started with some slurred words which morphed to extreme spaciness. In fear, I took the offending patch off.   Eventually, after feeling like an inappropriate drunk on a tour ship full of families, I fell into in a full-on power nap which Karen and her hubby Wes captured.

Karen’s getting a kick out of my oblivious state of slumber.  We still laugh at this over a year after the fact.

Just say no to Scopolamine patches!