Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise, Day 5

Up early for breakfast, where I ate too much (no surprise!) but such a treat to have room service!!!

Our race briefing was at 7, and we were given maps and rules for the stage. See, the Sitka run was an "amazing race", where we had to find locations on a map and then navigate between them in order. And while at each stop, each team had to take a picture and get their bib marked. Once you got back to the start, each person drew a card. The winner of the stage was the person who drew the ace.

John told a funny story about Mila -- the previous year, they had done essentially the same thing. John shuffled up the decks (one for men, one for women) and handed them to Mila. Everyone headed out, and when the first runner came in, he drew a card -- the ace. "Wow!" thought John. "But in a random shuffle, the ace *might* have come out on top." A little while later, the first female came in and drew her card -- also an ace. That seemed too much of a coincidence... so he asked her. "How come the first two cards drawn were both aces?" Mila looked puzzled and said, "The winners draw the aces." Ha!

There was a lot of chatter in the room -- people had strategies. This made me laugh, a bit. I mean, there weren't even clues to solve, just finding 5 spots on a tourist map and then visiting them in order. And taking pictures while you're at it. We decided to focus on taking funny pictures at each location. We knew we would be the slowest, so we might as well have the best pictures.

We rode out on the first tender -- the "love me tender"... -- and were soon in rainy little Sitka.

A little chatter, a welcome from the locals, and we were off. We started dead last -- no sense rushing off! -- and headed up and across the bridge. The fast pair were doubling back before we had even crested the darn thing! But we whooped for them all the same. As we did for everyone else -- lots of cheering and whooping.

The checkpoint was in the wrong spot -- the kids were standing at the sign, not a half mile down the road at the school itself. This shorted the course -- not that we minded, but I'm sure some people were worried about it affecting their overall prediction! We took our first photo looking scholarly:

Then back across the bridge and into downtown to stop at the cathedral. Another easy stop -- this time we decided to look "holy":

Then we headed out to the raptor center. On the way there we spotted the fast family heading back. Wow. They both, helpfully, told us we were going the right way, which was nice. The only difficult part of getting to the raptor center was crossing a ditch and a busy road. Admittedly, it wasn't very well signed, though it was exactly where the map indicated. We posed as ravens:

Then back to the road and into the park for stop #4. Along the way we caught up with Mike and Sandy, and joined them for the rest of the run.

Yes, this is me being a bear. That'll scare off the others for sure:

We found the site of the battle of Sitka and the four of us made a totem pole. I really hope this isn't culturally insensitive...

Then we started making our way back to town, catching a nice glimpse of the Westerdam, anchored offshore:

as well as getting to see a bunch of very nice totem poles. (Raven, watchman, frog, some other sort of bird, orca, owl...)

As we headed back to town, we ran into Bud (Sandy's husband) who had long since finished. We got a little lost looking for the Princess's grave, wandering through the wrong cemetery first, then making a loop around it. But there she was. This one is pretty insensitive... sorry princess...

Then we ran back to the start/finish line, posing for one final team photo. Wet but happy! None of us drew the ace, but we definitely got great photos!

photo by Jenny Hadfield

I bought a Sitka High School XC shirt (those poor kids have to fly every time they compete) and then we decided to head back into town to Ernie's, the cute little dive bar we spotted on the way in.

We chatted with a couple from Orlando who were also in our group, and then settled in for a nice Alaskan Amber. Since we hadn't had time to have one in Juneau, I figured we at least needed to have one SOMEWHERE in Alaska!

I started to get a little cold -- we were wet, after all -- but Wil remembered I had bought a shirt so I changed into it. Then all was toasty and well again.

We left Ernie's and wandered the town a little, but our hearts weren't in it. Sitka has some amazing sights -- the Totem Park is amazing -- but it hasn't "cutesied" itself up. Which is probably a good thing. I mean, Sitka just feels like an ordinary small working town... not one that's been tarted up for the tourists.

We did a little poking around the town, but the rain never let up and we decided to head back to the ship.   How? We took the "Love Me" Tender again...


  1. Hey Sunny! One more question if I can - about Sitka this time. How long would you say you had after the race portion before you had to be back on the ship? I'm trying to work out if I can do an excursion or not - there are a couple I'm really interested in, and I'm thinking I should be ok booking one if it's in the starting at 11am-12pm range?

  2. Hi Beth - To be honest, I don't remember when the ship sailed, but I feel like we had oodles of time after the race finished. We had drizzly weather, and I was a bit wet, so I think we headed back to the boat much earlier than we needed to. Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks Sunny! That helps! I'm getting so excited!! :)