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23154906_10214694818949192_3124333924529284067_oSo, I flew out from Barrow a couple weeks back to spend a few days at a conference (Whalefest) in Sitka. I don’t get to spend much time in southwest Alaska. When I fly out, I generally go through Anchorage and then down to the lower 48. I can visit the villages of the Northslope about as often as I care to, and I can often spend extra time in Fairbanks or Anchorage, but a chance to veer off into the southeast is a rare treat.

To say that Sitka is beautiful is putting it more than a little mildly. It really is gorgeous. In the end I found myself plotting various schemes to stay longer, or to come back. Moni couldn’t be talked into spending Thanksgiving down that way, something sensible about money and inconvenient flight times, but I’d still give up a turkey for a few free days in this town, preferably while the humpback whales are still in town.

Which reminds me, whalefest did (oddly enough) include a chance to go on a whale-watching cruise. Grumbly me, wasn’t all that eager to get on a whale-watching boat. I get seasick easily and the last time I did that with my family in Hawaii, we barely saw a tail come up out of the water. This time was different, though, remarkably different!

So, yeah, that was cool!

DSC04103My accommodations were at the old Sheldon Jackson College. The campus itself was beautiful. I wandered into the Sheldon Jackson Museum a couple times and found myself spending way more time in there than I originally planned. I also got to the totem park (otherwise known as the Sitka National Historic Park. I definitely needed more time in both those spots.


The conference itself was a fascinating mix of presentations on a diverse range of subjects. Oh yes, whales were the dominant theme, but speakers also addressed issues such as climate change, biology of other sea mammals, and sundry things-oceanic. The keynote speaker, Jacquelyn Gill, gave a wonderful talk on climate change and extinction, or rather persistence.

At some point I took a longish walk and found myself watching a sea otter playing in the harbor. It’s an oddly calming thing, just snapping amateurish pictures of an otter, waiting for him to do something interesting, like bring up another shellfish.

…just like the last one.

Damned cute, these little buggers!

It hasn’t escaped me that this is the Alaska that most people think of when I tell them I live in this state. They imagine trees and mountains, and moose, and bears, and all-manner of different forms of wildlife. My own experience of the state is very different, but that’s to be expected. Alaska is a whole buncha cool states.

Ah well, I really must get back to Sitka some time.

And to Whalefest!

Anyway, click to embiggen!