By: Dr. Lori Verderame
Alaska is a wonderland for explorers of all ages. From the fishing village of Ketchikan to the hustle bustle of Juneau, Alaska offers breathtaking vistas and unexpected experiences that will stir lifelong memories.
Travelers visiting Alaska will never forget their first experience spotting American bald eagles, impressive bears and lovable sea otters during their voyage. Learning the natural ways that sea otters play, whales swim and eagles soar overhead connects you to the Alaskan wildlife.
Shopping in Sitka is, at the same time, relaxing and exciting. Small shops manned by pleasant shop owners offer a feast for the eyes as well as the heart. While seeking out treasures, such as hand-carved baleen boxes, scrimshaw, knitted sweaters, and traditional baskets, most visitors to Alaska remember the people just as much as their specialty products.
Handmade objects from North America’s first inhabitants include those items made by the artisan members of the American Indian Tlingit (KLIN-kit), Haida (HIDE-uh) and Tsimshian (SIM-shian) tribes. American Indian baskets are among some of the most interesting, beautiful and widely collected works of art from Alaska. Whenever I am in Alaska, I always pick up a few for fun and for their collectible value.
Baskets are often made of spruce root, cedar and dyed grasses common to the region. Native American basket weavers use checker style weaving, plaiting, and coiling methods to make the famous pictorial designs of animals, hunters, and fisherman.
Great fishing is a big attraction for visitors to this characteristic Alaskan fishing village. Known as the World’s Salmon Capital, Ketchikan (from the Native phrase “Katch Kanna” meaning the wings of a thundering eagle) boasts huge 19th century totem poles carved with colorful images of bears, thunderbirds, frogs, and of course, king salmon. The animal symbolism and majesty of Native American totem poles tell volumes of the fascinating culture of the people of Alaska’s Inside Passage.
Standing in awe of the beauty of the Hubbard Glacier is an unforgettable site when visiting Alaska. As the ship cruises close to the glacier, the experience of viewing the ice falling into the sea is captivating, inspiring and sure to be the highlight of your journey.