Kodiak Alaska–Grand Far East/Australia 2014





Before I start posting pictures of Kodiak Alaska (our first stop) I would like to show you some beautiful flower arrangements and other things on the ship.






These few arrangements are just some of the fantastic flowers the couple from Holland make on every cruise. They receive additional fresh flowers whenever they need. They get delivered fresh directly to whatever port in whatever country we are in at the time.


Then of course, our cabin stewards make these cute towel sculptures, almost every night. Plus, of course, there is the little bit of chocolate on each pillow just in time to brush our teeth!




Kal will be writing a journal and so I will take his words and my pix and together

we might get something decent.

I will also put the info all together and the pix altogether. That way if you only

want to skim you don’t have to stop and start. If you would rather placed it

differently I’ll change it. Of course, you won’t read anything from Kal about YARN or shops.. So let me fill that part in.                        

YES! There is a great yarn shop called The Rookery, it was full of wondrous yarns from major manufacturers.  You will see a couple of pix of the shop. They had the largest collection of NORO I have ever seen anywhere. SO MUCH YARN! The proprietor was a lovey woman who was very helpful. And for the quilters, there was a great shop too!

The ship docked in Kodiak, Alaska, a primarily fishing town on Kodiak Island at the east end of the Aleutian Islands. Kodiak Island is the home of the indigenous Kodiak brown bear, the largest brown bear in the world, with males weighing in at roughly 1,400 lb. and standing 10-12 feet tall on their hind legs. Of course the bears were located in National Wildlife Refuge located outside the town (and which takes up 2/3 of Kodiak Island and major portions of 3 other adjacent islands). There was an interesting exhibit and movie at the National Wildlife Information Center showing how virtually everything on Kodiak Island and vicinity flourishes because of the millions and millions of salmon (there are at least five varieties of Pacific salmon – chum, pink, Chinook, sockeye and silver) – that come here to spawn and thereby provide food, directly or indirectly, for the rest of the wildlife. There are an estimated 3,000 Kodiak brown bears and 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge. Of course, it being Rosh Hashana we could only avail ourselves of the free exhibits at the Wildlife Refuge and could not take advantage of the tours that were available for purchase to some areas where the Kodiak Island wildlife could be seen. Maybe on a next trip to Kodiak…..

The ranger at the Wildlife Refuge Information Center told us that usually Kodiak had only about 10 really clear and sunny days a year, but that this summer had been the most glorious that even the “old-timers” could remember, and the day we were there the weather was clear and sunny and the temperature in the low 60’s Fahrenheit – very comfortable for strolling about….

For me the most interesting thing we saw in Kodiak was the Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church, the oldest Russian Orthodox Church in the New World, first built around 1746 (?) . Alaska was originally owned by Russia, which hunted furs and whales here and established a colony at Kodiak, the white settlement in Alaska that was closest to Russia, as its base of operations. The church was there to serve the needs of Russians but also to convert the local Aleutiiq Eskimos with whom they traded. After the Russians got badly beaten up in the Crimean War and needed money – and with their fur hunting and whale hunting and fishing resources almost all used up, they offered to sell Alaska, now their “white elephant”, to the USA for $10 million. After some bargaining the US Secretary of State Seward was authorized in 1867 to pay Russia $7.2 million for Alaska, and the deal was done. Initially many Americans referred to this purchase as “Seward’s Folly”, but the purchase was undoubtedly motivated by a sense of Manifest Destiny that was prevalent in America after the Civil War.

Back to the Russian Orthodox Church. First, it is relatively small. It holds the reliquary of St. Herman (whoever that is) and houses many beautiful, if modern icons that are prevalent in Orthodox churches. Some icons go back as far as 300-350 years, but the majority are much more recent, the most recent (and the ones closest to the standing congregants) were done only about 10 years ago by a Russian iconographer named Shkolnik (!) who lives in San Francisco. There is no Russian in any of these icons; all the texts, when they appear in the icons, are in English, although the alphabetical characters are written in a highly stylized alphabetical script that makes them look like Cyrillic iconographic script until one looks at the texts closely. When we mentioned to the young priest in attendance that the name Shkolnik was very identifiably Jewish, he remarked that he hadn’t seen Shkolnik for 10-12 years since the icons had been done, but his recollection was that Shkolnik was of Russian-Jewish extraction, he thought from Kiev. Is that a job for a Jewish guy??

The priest, who was not more than in his mid-30’s was born Daniel Dresdow south of Chicago in Illinois (was also a surfer dude from California) to an evangelical Lutheran family but converted to Orthodoxy. (He mentioned that his brother, 4 years older than himself, also converted and was also a priest in a Chaldean Orthodox Church in Ohio). Upon becoming a priest his name was changed to Fr. Innocent. The Russian Orthodox priests are allowed to marry but only before they are ordained; after ordination they cannot marry. Wives of priests are given the honorific of being addressed as “Mother” although they hold no ecclesiastical position. When I asked him, this priest said that the entire religious service is conducted in English, not Russian, and that in fact, he didn’t know a single word of Russian. I found that somewhat strange for a Russian Orthodox priest but didn’t comment.

I asked the priest several questions about the Orthodox rites. In Russian and other Orthodox churches, there are no chairs or pews for worshippers to sit down in (actually, there are a few as a concession to the elderly who may find it difficult to remain standing throughout the service, but this is definitely not the norm, and the priest mentioned that their shortest service lasts about 1½ hours and goes up from there, to about 4 hours, all throughout which most of the parishioners remain standing). When I asked why this was so, he explained that in the Orthodox view one stands in the presence of a king, and when standing in the presence of God, the King of Kings, one should always remain standing, and so they do; and the fact that they stand during their services thereby marks the prayer space as sacred space. Not far from the Jewish thinking on the subject, I said to myself.

I then asked the priest about the Orthodox cross, with two straight bars and one crooked bar toward the bottom. He explained that the first, straight bar represented the original cross of the crucifixion with the inscription from Pilate of INRI – “Iesus Nazareth Rex Iudeorum (?) – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. The second, longer but parallel straight bar represented the actual cross on which Jesus was crucified. Two objects that seemed to come out of each of the ends of the second bar that comprised the actual cross, were representations of a spear and a sponge – spear that wounded Jesus, sponge used to cleanse his wounds. The bent, third bar toward the bottom of the cross is supposed to represent the foot pedestal on which Jesus stood while he was being crucified. According to a legend he pressed down on the foot pedestal so hard that he bent it out of shape so that it became crooked, and that’s the representation of the third bar.

According to the Russian priest, the Russian Orthodox Church in Kodiak gets along well with the local Roman Catholic Church as the two priests understand that both are “brothers in Christ”. However, one of their differences comes in hierarchal matters. While the Pope is the leader of the Roman Church and has authority to appoint and move personnel around, in the Russian Church there is a Patriarch, but the local authority and control is in the hands of Bishops or Archbishops, and these arch/bishops apparently protect their turf. So it is that if a arch/bishop from one area wants to go into a church in another area and preach there, he cannot do so without the express permission of the local arch/bishop (and the parish priest?).

According to the priest at the Russian Church, about 70% of his parishioners are Natives, and many of them have Russian sounding last names (undoubtedly the result of successful missionizing by the Russian Orthodox Church here over the centuries). From the church we went to the old Russian Cemetery in Kodiak, which is located amid a grove of fir and spruce trees at the top of a hill overlooking the city and where there were graves with Russian names going back to the early 1800’s. All the graves seemed to have Russian crosses only, and many of the burials were arranged in family plots. The cemetery ground felt loamy to walk on, almost like walking on carpet, but I couldn’t tell if this was unique because we were on cemetery grounds or because that’s just the soil conditions here.

The main industry in Kodiak is fishing, and Kodiak harbor is filled with hundreds of fishing vessels of all shapes and sizes. The Russian priest told us that even though most of the fishermen are not particularly religious, almost all of them have an icon onboard of one of the saints – St. Nicholas, I think – although I don’t know his relationship to fishermen or what he is supposed to “stand for”. In addition, he said he is constantly asked to bless fishing vessels, even for those who are not of his faith or church, but who want a religious blessing on their boats before taking

off to sea.

































Dutch Harbor here we come!  Maybe we will bump into guys from The Deadliest Catch!












2 responses »


  2. Wonderful!! Please keep them coming. Reading the blog made me feel like we are with you guys. Orly said that while I read the blog to her, the baby didn’t stop kicking. They baby loved it too.
    Love you guys. Orly and Ariel

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