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North to Alaska - Full Version - Day 48 (July 3)

Saturday - In the morning, after watching the ferry thread its way between numerous islands through impressively dense fog patches for awhile, the ship's diner opened and we had a good breakfast. The Taku tied up at 8:45 in Sitka and we found a space at the Sitka Sportsman's Association RV Park, next to the ferry terminal (water and electricity but no sewer).

Playing tourist, we visited Castle Hill, a grass-topped, 60-foot rock outcropping near the harbor, where Alexander Baranof built his "castle" after driving out the Tlinget Indians. Years later, partly because of Alaska's distance, and partly to head off a possible takeover of its North American colonies by Britain, the U.S. bought Alaska for $7.2 million from their foe, Imperial Russia. This was one of the largest real estate deals at that time. Here, in 1867, on Castle Hill, the formal transfer of Alaska from the Russians to the United States (and later the first official raising of the 49 star national flag) took place.

We saw the Pioneers' Home, one of the largest structures in downtown Sitka, designed to offer senior citizens a safe haven during their final years, and St. Michael's Cathedral, rebuilt after a fire in 1966, containing original icons from the Russian era which were rescued from the original building. Then, after walking around the downtown area we paused by a Tea and Pastries Shoppe. A customer exited and commented to us, "She has the best scones in town." Hmmmm. We couldn't resist that recommendation. Inside, Ben had "Smoked Turkey on Wheat," and Margaret chose "Salmon and Cream Cheese on a Baguette." We split a scone and, sure enough, it was so good we bought another, plus a huge blueberry muffin and a piece of apple-spice cake for breakfast.

We all went to the Sheldon Jackson Museum which had a wonderful collection gathered between 1888 and 1889 by the missionary-educator. He was the first federal education official appointed in Alaska and dedicated his life to the betterment of Native children. The octagonal-shaped structure with a dome-covered roof was the first concrete building erected in Alaska.