Alaska is a great state of wilderness and cultural sites. Russia sold the territory to the United States as a protective buffer from Britain. Russian Emperor Alexander II soon regretted the move. His successors regretted it even more. Secretary of State Seward’s folly is not appreciated by Native Alaskans. Seward’s Totem pole was not hoisted as a compliment. Alaskan statehood is recognized as a major benefit to the United States.
While working in the Department of the Interior for twelve years, Alaska matters were a regular part of my diet. During that time, I learned Tlingit people are amazing in their ability to work from adversity to create a highly successful business organization. Sealaska Heritage funds cultural preservation in a way that is an international model.
To work in the field of cultural restoration and preservation was an honor. It was also a test of endurance. Working in any branch of government involves problem solving, where management has the problems, so that others may have something better. Stepping back to enjoy the beauty of Alaska’s environment was rarely possible for me.
This summer we boarded Oceania Cruise Line’s Regatta, with our grandson, for a grandparent/grandchild’s cruise along ports of Alaska and Canada. It was a great choice. We could not have enjoyed the experience more. For my husband and I, who spend more than six months a year on cruise ships, while I am presenting stories on the ports we visit, the ability to be a cruise guest was a treat. For our grandson, the freedom of the ship, within the safety of the ship, was an ideal first cruise experience for the young man.
We did all the activities tourists do when in Alaska. We signed up for all the ship’s excursions. In short, we went to all the places that I avoided when working in Alaska.
I can report that we had a great time being a tourist. I usually hesitate to use the word. My grandson was enthralled by the young Tlingit student, who gave a presentation on his people and culture, prior to a dance performance. We were all impressed, to be candid.
Now for the big confession, which will astound all who know me. We went to the Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan, and I yelled for a team. We all yelled. What fun!
When I saw that our ship was number five to dock in one port, I was concerned. I need not have thought about it. In Alaska, the landscape swallows up multitudes. As long as we respect the environment, there is so much to attract tourists, yes tourists, indefinitely.
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