Boat, Boston's North Shore, Brooks Range, California, Calving, Chardonnay, Chasing Ice, Cruise Ships, Documentary, Exotic Dancer, Fishermen, Flight, Global Warming, Homes, Ilulissat Glacier, Island, Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier, Oscar Nunez, Ramon, Ramone, Raven Dining Room, Ryan Reynolds, Sandra Bullock, Sitka, Southeast Alaska, The Proposal, Tourists, Westmark Hotel, Wine
I had the opportunity to visit Sitka, Alaska for 32 hours a couple weekends ago. The first exciting moments of the trip were when we almost missed our flight because of a mishap at the bagel stand where Kelle was getting her breakfast. She had left her luggage (along with her phone) with me, and I had no idea where she was when they did the final call and announced our names. After running around yelling for her throughout the cafeteria and bathrooms, I spotted her sprinting toward the terminal. Turns out some guy was angry because he was shorted $5 or something, and they had to shut down the cash register, causing a group of people to almost miss their flights. I thought for a second I was really going to have to decide whether I continued on the flight or missed it to wait for her! Glad it didn’t come to that! Of course after we got on the plane we waited another 40 minutes before we departed. I’m sure glad they put all that stress on me that we only had four minutes to board! At least we didn’t have another crazy eye situation like in Anchorage…
There is only a direct flight from Seattle in the summer months (heavy tourist season), so Kelle and I connected through Juneau. If you ever take that flight, be prepared to only have the ability to turn on your electronics during the flight for about 5 minutes before they tell you to turn them off because you are starting your descent.
Flying anywhere in Alaska is beautiful if you are lucky enough to travel when the sun is up and the sky is clear. Coming back into Juneau you can even see Mendenhall Glacier. I had no idea how close it was to the city, and I had never seen a real glacier before. I recently watched the documentary Chasing Ice, and have a whole new fascination with them. Someday I hope to see them closer, and hopefully witness the calving. After watching the documentary, I’m starting to realize I better hurry up and fulfill that bucket list item before their gone.
If you’re interested, the film captured the largest glacier calving ever filmed. A chunk the size of Manhattan broke of the Ilulissat Glacier in Western Greenland. Check out the clip here!
Sitka was of course beautiful, surrounded by pristine mountains. A city in the Southeast, it sits on the water’s edge, and houses rested on the many small islands that could be seen from the road. Sitka is only accessible by plane or boat, so why not keep the pattern going for your home?
I’m not going to lie — I was expecting Sitka to be a small, rusty fishing town full of people a little rough around the edges. There were of course many fishermen and pilots, but the buildings have character, there is a pretty good choice of restaurants and bars, and the homes are beautiful. I hadn’t thought about the popularity of this place in the summer with all of the tourists coming through on cruise ships.
As most women know, The Proposal, a 2009 film starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, was largely based in Sitka (although most of the filming was done on Boston’s North Shore). However, though most of the filming wasn’t done there, someone had obviously scoped out the town and gotten to know some of the locals before shooting (or they had an insider consultant!), because the character of Ramon is all too familiar to those who live there, or to visitors who stayed at the Westmark Hotel. Kelle and I were lucky enough to have picked the right hotel to stay in, and wander into the hotel’s Raven Dining Room. There we were approached by Ramone, an amazingly charming Hispanic transgender cocktail waitress, who looked at me and psychically knew I needed chardonnay. Our friend, Mike, confirmed that she was the person they based the hilarious character played by Oscar Nunez off of for the movie. Mike explained that all the locals adore Ramone, and there are people from all over who, when they are in Sitka, stop by the restaurant to see her. I wish I would have had the guts to get a picture with her! But alas, you’ll just have to imagine.
My trip to Sitka was short, but beautiful – both the people and the surrounding landscape. Every time I visit I understand why people move there, and why people want to live the sustainable lifestyle. Alaska is a place I believe everyone feels connected to the Earth and wildlife. You just can’t help it. You take one breath of the fresh air, and feel so small surrounded by towering mountain ranges. We learned on the trip that Brooks Range, a mountain range north of Fairbanks, is the same size of California, if that gives you some perspective. Every time I leave I end up wanting more. Hopefully my next visit isn’t so brief.