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North to Alaska - Full Version - Day 49 (July 4)

Sunday - After eating our left-over pastries for breakfast we visited the Sitka National Historical Park, containing sites and structures related to Tlingit Indian and Imperial Russian history in Sitka. The park was founded in 1910 to preserve the remains of the Tlingit village and the battleground where the Tlingits and Russians fought in 1804. This battle, also known as the Battle at Indian River, was a response to the previous conquest of Redoubt (the original Russian fort, a few miles north of town) by the Tlingits in 1802. Two years later Baranof returned to strike back, bringing a warship with cannons. Rather than surrender, after a six-day battle, the Tlingits retreated. One building in the park contained several huge Tlingit totem poles, housed indoors to protect them from the elements. A trail through a dense forest and across a bridge brought us to a Russian Memorial dedicated to the soldiers and native slaves who were killed in the Tlingit battles. Since we wanted to get a good spot for the Fourth of July Parade we joined the locals headed for downtown. There were hundreds of patriotic flags flying and some of the white Queen Ann's Lace flowers along the way had been spray-painted a patriotic red or blue. A bald eagle floated down to land in a tree over our heads, right next to a flag, providing a great photo op and a rather stirring moment. We cheered and clapped along with everyone as the parade groups passed proudly in review down Lincoln Street. The apparent hometown pride and patriotism exhibited by the parade entries, and those around us, was exhilarating. Garrett and Sherrila had parked the van where there was a wireless signal from the internet so, after the festivities, we checked for messages. There was a very clever cartoon from Don Nunan about being stuck in the tiny shower of the Casita, and a nice message from the Hammonds, ex-Littlebrook neighbors. Around the corner was the Twin Dragons Chinese Restaurant so we let the enticing odors lure us in and gorged before returning to camp. Since it was a full day (and we were full of oriental comestibles) we decided to turn in early. Suddenly, about 11:30, we were startled awake by a series of loud explosions, like gunfire. The city was setting off the yearly fireworks on the beach nearby! We heard and watched the celebration until, finally, after about an hour, they ran out of noisemakers, flares and rockets. Silence, ahh.