Destinations, Travel, United States
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The Way Home through Alaska

Ice at Petersburg, Alaska.

The small Alaskan town of Petersburg is a place where time is told by the tides. High and low will let you know when you can come and when to go. Water winds its way through the land from the narrow sloughs out to the sea where the latest catch is being brought home. A rain forest rests along these shores with lime-green lichen coating wet, dark stumps on shady paths. The contrast of color makes green life glow in the dim light that filters through endless tiers of hemlock branches. Moss grows thick underfoot and if you aren’t careful you might just lose yourself to the quiet. This is a magic place, where America still retains its wild roots and unparalleled beauty. Where bald eagles soar and whales leap from cold waters. The same water glides against glaciers eventually splitting apart ancient ice and pulling pieces into its embrace. Large fragments come to rest on beaches, leaving a gallery of bold blue sculptures carved by wind and water into modern art.

Alaska-6966web Petersburg

Next to these giants walk tiny people, Alaskans and one girl from Michigan. They are new friends already as this is a place where one becomes instantly known. Petersburg is where a familiar face is seen on a trip to town, or out the road, on a hike and in the harbor. It’s a place where friends become family and community can be counted on. On cooler days, Norwegian knit sweaters keep the chill out and heritage in. Celebrations are shared and small town events hold big time charm. 

This is a special place where I was lucky to lay my head for a short while and relax into its ways. I stomped through puddles in borrowed rubber boots and kayaked over water smooth as glass. I bird watched and blundered over new names of flora and fauna I’d never known. Harlequins and Goldeneyes, Lungwort and Devil’s Club became part of my days. Walking over the spongy Muskeg, I often stopped to admire the curves and grace of skunk cabbage in bloom. A simple yellow curve from its flower created a living Georgia O’Keefe painting out in the wilderness. Nature’s art is everywhere here and the canvas is wide.

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When our bodies tired, we settled in for the night with a homemade meal fresh from the sea. Lox, halibut and shrimp filled my plate with no question of where it came from. This is a place where your food is born from folks you are on a first name basis with. Everything is local here and hardworking people bring their bounty home with them and share with others. After a long, peaceful night’s rest, we’d get up and do it all again.

Alaska-7525web Petersburg

This is America the beautiful with mountain majesties and spacious skies. The kind of land people write songs about. When I first glimpsed the endless snow-capped peaks from the plane I felt a sense of pride. Even though I still had miles to go, I knew I was already, in a way… home.

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20 Comments

  1. Jean Pederson Curry says

    You captured our little town so perfectly. My parents were raised in Petersburg and I was born and raised there as were our kids. Thank you, beautiful photos and comments.

    • I’m so glad I did it justice in your eyes. I felt really connected to that town and it made it easy write from the heart. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Terry says

    Nice! SE Alaska can be a beautiful place, view through an appreciative eye!

  3. Sheri; What a wonderful BLOG! Your pics are amazing as always and the prose is perfect! Welcome home form an adventure of a lifetime! How is life settling in – the question is to what and where? All is good here with Pat and I as we work our way through a busy four month canoeing and kayaking program. We wish the best and most successful of times at your upcoming photographic event! Till we meet again on the path of life!

    • Hi Bruce!! I’m doing well. It’s good to be home. It’s a strange shift and surreal at times. I’m sure I’ll write about it soon. It’s still all sinking in. Thank you for the kind words and all the best to you and Pat.

  4. Thea Dybvik says

    Thank you. It sounds like SE bit you in the butt. When ya coming back? It got me nearly 40 years ago and I’ll probably feed the crab when it’s done.

  5. Maura Kolars says

    This may be the best travel essay I have ever read, and the photos are breathtaking! Thank you! Maura Kolars

    • Maura, that is so nice of you to say and you really made my day. Thank you so much for commenting. 🙂

  6. I enjoyed meeting you when you stopped into our museum. Good luck in you new adventures. You photos and narrative are truly lovely!

    • I enjoyed meeting you too and the other wonderful residents there. Petersburg has a wonderful community. Thank you!

  7. Kris says

    Sheri, just beautiful, your words and photos. I blundered into Petersburg long ago on a construction job, and as The a says ” it bit me in the butt”, still here loving it every day. Thank you for sharing with us.

  8. Kelly Caltabiano says

    Absolutely beautiful! Your description and photos are amazing, Sheri.

  9. Irene says

    Hi Sheri, Thank you for taking me around the world with your beauty of pictures and words. You did a good thing for yourself and for us that tagged along.

    Hope to see you sometime so I can give a hug.

    xoxox
    Irene

  10. Wow Sheri, these pictures are amazing and the place looks beautiful beyond words! I would love to visit it and see all these stunning things (plus eating tasty fresh fish!)

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