Freeway Free in Alaska (actually you have no choice)
Since there are only about 15 miles of freeway in the entire state of Alaska (built as a bit of a boondoggle between the capital city of Juneau and its airport), it is not much of a challenge to be freeway-free here. The preferred method of travel is by water, whether by kayak, canoe, or cruise ship.
Alaska was not exactly on my bucket list – I usually prefer to go to places where the food and language are exotic. But once in the state I was enchanted – it still feels so WILD here. The first day in Sitka, I strolled around the town and spotted a couple of bald eagles keeping watch over their territory from the top of the tallest tree in town. Mt. Morecombe, which marks the entrance to the Sitka harbor, is a somnolent volcano.
The stroll of Sitka includes a main street of perhaps six blocks, with a harbor and historic park at one end, the coast range looming behind, and a second park looking out over the volcano and the bay at the other end. The shops include quite a nice book store, a quilting shop with Alaska-themed print calicoes on offer, several craft shops offering carvings from driftwood or walrus tusks, several small coffee shops, and a restaurant offering fresh -caught salmon.
The standard wear for Sitka inhabitants involves jeans, down vests, and flannel. The shopkeepers and customers have an easy-going, relaxed air, as though there is nowhere else they would rather be, nowhere they need to rush off to. I suppose those who want to be somewhere else than a small town in Alaska have already left.
The air is cool and brisk and smells faintly fishy. I can feel myself relaxing, too. There’s nowhere else I can be now, so I might as well be here. I find myself a bench at the harbor, and scan the trees for eagles. I turn, and find one perched on the apex of the church steeple, looking for all the world like a weathervane. Wild.