Norwegian culture

Petersburg, AK

July 5th - 9th, 2002

Having arrived on the ferry, we pulled into a campground and took the rest of the day off. The next day, our first outing was to the downtown area, which tries to maintain a Norwegian theme. Petersburg was founded by a Norwegian fisherman and his family, and the town continues to decorate in that Nation's tradition. The city's historic center is a block, down by the docks where the fishermen's memorial statue stands, dedicated to all those who fished out of this port and were lost at sea. The block also holds the only good restaurant we found, "The Northern Lights". Most of the area is built out onto a boardwalk, a dozen or so feet above the water. Parked, not far from the memorial is a scale model Viking ship with sail unfurled. Despite its position on a wheeled trailer, the boat gives the area  a definite Scandinavian flair. The next day, we traveled south of the trailer park, looking for a boardwalk that led to Blind Creek Narrows. The Pink Salmon were running and reported to be jumping through the narrows. After a half-mile walk through a muskeg, Alaskan for bog, we came out on a scene that can only be found on the motion picture screen. Snow capped mountains leading down to a Spruce forest with the Blind Creek babbling by. At our feet was a meadow filled with wildflowers, and unfortunately mosquitoes. And there where the banks come close together, jumping high in the air were huge pink salmon, at least a yard long and weighing 30 to 50 lbs. The whole scene could have been the backdrop for a Sgt. Preston of the Northwest Mounties movie (oops I'm showing my age) if it hadn't been for the dozens of fisherman lining the banks and wading out to cast their lines as if trying to hit fish in the air. Although the average time between strikes was an amazing matter of minutes if not seconds, few fish were actually landed. These rambunctious powerhouses would bite the hook, come up out of the water and with a violent shake of the head spit the lure back at the fisherman, only to bite another one somewhere else. Later, at a different location, we climbed down to the Blind River Slough, a river used by the Salmon, where a Salmon ladder had been built. The rocky falls are just too steep for even the most vigorous fish. Unfortunately the fish weren't running. Our last outing on this sunny, warm day was to the north end of the island where the Sandy Beach Park looks out toward the mountains. With some effort we climbed over the rocky coast for a quarter of a mile looking for the famed Sandy Beech petroglyphs located near old Indian fish traps. The rock carvings are believed to be pre-Christian and that they have been carved to honor the gods as they saw them, as they hoped for a good catch. They have weathered the elements for centuries and are often no more than faint impressions that can be nearly invisible to the casual observer. Finally, after a half hour of picking through and climbing over various coastal formations, Laura called a break. I continued on into an area of high grass, which covered sinkholes. When I had checked all available rocks I found it far too difficult to pick my way back and elected to cut through the woods and drop back down on the beach near the point were we had started. This left Laura still out on the rocks somewhere. I worked my way back to a point where I could see her and got her attention. She had tired of standing waiting for me to return and had sought a place to sit down. While resting she had noticed some depressions in the rock on which she was sitting. She had found it. Faintly outlined in the rock about eye level was a face. It did give me a strange feeling standing next to a carving that could be many thousands of years old. Such findings clearly indicate that southeast Alaska may have been a cradle of mankind in North America. This is quite a different image for a State known for its small population.

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