19 July 2010

reflections: closing in on two weeks!

It's been nearly two weeks that we've been here, and I have some reflections to share.

It's amazing to live in a place like this. JoElle and I are constantly awed by the natural beauty of the Sitka Sound, the Tongass rainforest, the mountains, and the weather. We can look out our front window and see the Pacific Ocean, replete with fishing boats, cruise ships, and recreational vessels, Seren gets to watch planes all day taking off and landing at Rocky Gutierrez Airport, and we can walk to the back of the house and see a mountain covered in forest. Beyond the physical beauty of this place, there is so much more going on.

On Saturday, we had to rush through the first Farmers Market of the summer so that we could get over to the library in time for a children's program. I've been to many farmers markets before, but never one where you could buy fresh-caught seafood, sea asparagus, and salmonberry jam in addition to the usual fresh breads, locally-roasted coffees, and fresh produce. I just made dinner tonight out of black cod and sea asparagus from that market, and it was amazing (not intended to be self-congratulatory). Side note: if you like to cook fish and haven't tried black cod, DO IT. It's creamy and buttery and amazing, and almost the same size fillet and cooking time as you're used to for salmon.

We have yet to meet an unfriendly person here. Almost nobody here wears a tie to work. When they say "Alaska formal" means jeans and a collared shirt, they really seem to mean it. The only thing you need to say to get twice the help you were already getting (which is usually already twice what you'd get in the contiguous 48) is that you're new in town. That immediately leads to questions about where you live, how much you like it, and a sincere wish that you'll stick around. I've been asked a few times what brought us to Sitka, but never once have we been asked that in an incredulous tone. The people here know how good they have it, and are simply interested in knowing what excuse you have for living in such a great place.

Seriously, we've been pleased to find almost everything we've found here. Good Asian food and Mexican food restaurants that deliver, electronics shops where you get real help from the knowledgeable staff, great parks, tons of places to walk or run or bike or simply sit and relax and watch the activity around you. The drivers on the biggest road on the island will actually stop of their own volition to let pedestrians cross the street! For a brief while, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to indulge two of my favorite vices here, though. In my mind, there's little better than a good local microbrewery and an old (think Big Lebowski) bowling alley. Before we left, I looked on BeerAdvocate and Google and everywhere else I could, and it seemed like there was a chance that a brewery might exist in town. The other day, we located it! Baranof Island Brewing has only been in business for part of the summer according to its staff, but it is worth knowing of! When I stopped in, they were out of three of the four brews that they normally keep on tap, but their Baranof Brown Ale was almost perfectly balanced for me: thick (not watery at all), smooth, a bit creamy, with plenty of malt and only enough hops to keep it tasting like beer. This is the beer I kept hoping that Prescott Brewing Company would figure out how to make.

I'm still looking for a place to bowl in town. If we can't find one, we may have to build one. Until then, I can settle for a place that's 99% perfect.


  1. isn't it nice to be happy where you're living? and you may even get that lighthouse....

  2. We are so glad that ya'll made it there safely. We also appreciate that you created this blog, it made us feel that we were part of your traveling experience. Jack & Nichole would get so excited when I told them that there were new pictures and more information about ya'lls travels. We are so glad to hear that the people there are friendly, welcoming and helpful. Hopefully we will be able to visit you while you are there.

  3. Closest thing to a bowling alley is Lane 7, the burger joint that used to be the snack bar before the bowling alley closed down. Or so the legend says...