There are LOTS of historic totem poles at the Sitka National Historical Park and Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka, Alaska, and soon there will also be some Eiferts. This past week we had the distinct privilege to spend it in one of the most interesting, beautiful and historically-significant towns in America, and one of the most remote as well. No roads go to Sitka, and in fact it’s the only town that faces the Gulf of Alaska head-on. There are about 9,000 people there who own 7500 cars – but there’s only 21.5 miles of roads to drive them on – and I’d guess there are more fishing boats than people. The National Park Service has the oldest national park unit in Alaska, and there’s a beautiful visitor center and historic park along the Indian River, as well as the Russian Bishop’s House, a meticulously restored and remarkable two-story massive structure built in 1842 that is mind-boggling in it’s history, furnishings and especially the building itself. In an effort to keep this short, let’s just say we had a very good time – and boy, are these people friendly.
My task is now to create some paintings of the salmon runs in the Indian River. So after five other concept sketches, this was my best try, and I think it will work. I won’t explain it now, but you’ll soon see the painting, a forest scene with brown bears, ravens, eagles and lots of salmon returning to spawn.
And here’s the location along the river. An amazingly beautiful place, and you’d never know it but it’s right smack in the middle of town. As we walked in these woods, we constantly overheard bald eagles and ravens ‘talking’ among themselves high in the canopy. While we were there one day, a string trio played in a meadow within 200 feet of this photo location and I’ve never heard a cello, viola and violin played along with eagles and ravens chinning in from the balcony – and as loud as the wooden instruments. Remarkable.
And here’s the initial species list I created on location. It was written in the order of discussion and while we didn’t see all these critters here, we saw almost all of them somewhere on our stay – even the grizzlies.
Stay tuned. It’ll be a fun painting – and there are five other smaller paintings coming as well. I’m excited.
Finally: I don’t usually do this, but I’d like to recommend the channel-side small inn and restaurant we stayed at in Sitka. It’s the Fly-In-Fish-Inn and it couldn’t have been a better experience. Ken and Carla made us feel like we were family.
Thanks for reading this week.
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