Monday, September 22, 2008

Sitka, Alaska!

If you want to see the real Alaska, fly to Baranof Island and you'll see . . . Sitka, the first Russian Capital of our Great State. When you land, it's the same feeling as landing on water, because you're surrounded by lots of water, and islands interspersed.

Since I've been there before, I was smart enough to bring along a big rainhat, because their weather is like no other. (Perhaps Ketchikan can compete for the 'rainiest' title.)
Sitka is located on the West Side of this Baranof Island, making it a long detour for the cruise ships, who normally dock there only on the southbound route from Haines and Juneau. There is no deep water dock, so passengers have to be lightered in to a delightful 'tourist area'. Each year the season extends a little longer, so we found tourists there on September 20, which is pretty late in the year. Normally, the first stop is Centennial Hall, where they have the Archangel Dancers, who are a group of local women, some playing the men's role, of Russian dancers. The narrator is costumed in beautiful Russian dress and tiara. This weekend, the Pioneers of Alaska were having their state convention there, so the dancers were bumped. This was the reason I was in Sitka -- as we Pioneers are a group of older people who have been preserving the history of Alaska for 100 yrs. In fact, last year's tour in Nome celebrated "100 years on the Trail" . . . and most of them have stories to tell. It makes my 42 yrs. here seem like I'm a newcomer. One of the highlights of the convention is Banquet Night, where the ladies dress in old time costumes, and the men look like riverboat gamblers. Imagine stuffing all those puffed sleeves into your allotted suitcase space. Well, I wish I had some images of this to show you, but suffice to way, it was a lovely get-together with a mix of business and pleasure.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Flying Out of Alaska

I never leave Alaska for too long, or without a good reason, but I thought the Texas Association of Magicians Convention was worthy of a trip to the hot climate for a week. . . and especially since it was honoring a friend of mine, and a friend of magic, Walter Zaney Blaney. You see him here pictured with two of his 3 daughters, Becky and Carol. Walter has spend 60 of his 80 years in magic, both performing, and inventing props. In the field, he is well known for his levitation and suspension props, as well as performing around the world with his late wife, Joyce.
I was concerned with the heat of the area, but we got the edge of hurricane Gustav there and the rain cooled things down, just when I couldn't take any more heat outdoors. However, the Renaissance Worthington Hotel was first-class, and there was no reason to leave, with magic performances all day long, plus a great dealer room. After three days of this, with each show better than the last one, I retreated to a long time friend's home in nearby Dallas, and spent another three days doing the usual 'girl' things, like shopping, eating, visiting, sightseeing.
Of course, with the big news coming out of Alaska about our governor being selected as the vice presidential candidate for the Republicans, I spent plenty of time in front of the television set. That was all the big news there, as well as here in Alaska, with most of the people I talked to, being favorably impressed. But this is NOT a political blog, so I'll just close out right here!!!