Day 7 of the Cruise
Petersburg was settled by Norwegian fishermen more than 100 years ago. It's named after Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant who arrived in the late 1890s and homesteaded on the north end of Mitkof Island. The cannery his family built has operated continuously since about 1900. Petersburg is one of Alaska's top fishing communities but has retained its small town feel. Its harbor is too narrow for the large cruise ships so Petersburg is unspoiled by the usual tacky gift shops and trendy eateries so common in many other Southeast Alaska ports.
We disembarked and headed for the Sons of Norway Hall for a demonstration of traditional Norwegian dancing, performed by local kids aged 6 to 14. This wasn't really a tourist performance, it's sponsored by the town as a way to give children some exposure to being in front of groups of strangers. This is such a small community, about 3000, that there is not much opportunity for interaction with people they don't know.
We met our driver / guide, Hapi, for the ride to the William Musson Memorial Pathway. We learned that most homes in Petersburg are built on pilings due to the high water table. All building materials come from outside by barge which makes for some expensive housing.
Across the harbor on Kupreanof Island is the town of Kupreanof. It consists mostly of a few homesteads, with no infrastructure. There are no roads, no gas, no electricity, all by the choice of the residents. Alaskans can be seriously independent.
The harbor was packed with commercial fishing vessels including the famous Time Bandit from the TV show, "Deadliest Catch".
After a great show and some light, authentic Norwegian refreshments, we headed out for a drive to a nature hike through a moraine preserve. On the way to meet our driver we spotted a small herd of Sitka deer.
Our hike through coastal moraine, the land left after a glacier has receded. It ranged from forest to open fields.
Back in downtown Petersburg after the hike, we found a hole-in-the-wall Mexican food vendor. This was no restaurant, just a trailer with a wood framework covered in clear plastic sheeting to keep out the rain. The food, however, was very good. A pleasant surprise in this small town.
Back aboard in time for dinner, a bald eagle perched on a dock piling, bid us adieu as we set sail (so to speak) for our next port of call, Wrangell.