Peter the Great had a vision. Incorporate the highest ideals of post-Rennaissance Europe into Russia. That vision manifested into the city of St.Petersburg - but it also drove Peter's desire to learn more about his land to the east - east of Siberia.
He hired a crew of explorers including Captain Vitus Bering and the naturalist George Stellar - and charged them with the goal of determining what lies beyond Kamchatka.
This eventually led to Russia's aquisition of Alaska - which, later in 1867, then led to Russia's sale of Alaska to the US for 7 million.
I know this because I have been reading James Michener's novel, Alaska.
For years I have considered reading one of his books - just to see how he could possibly have so much to say about such disparate geographical topics. But when would I ever have the time or inclination to read a James Michener historical fiction novel? Well, as it turns out - a 6 week sailing trip to Alaska provides both the time and the inclination.
So - with this history fresh on my mind, you can imagine how auspicious it felt when my friend Russia called to say she was flying into Alaska, her homeland, the week I arrived.
Russia was returning to Alaska - what are you kidding me? Is someone setting me up...
Russia with a healthy Dungeness crab.
This Pacific cod provided dinner and its head provided bait for the crab pot.
We anchored in Oliver's Inlet - a spooky anchorage on Admiralty Island. This island is famous for having the most dense population of Grizzly Bears in North America.
The island has a 3 to 1 ratio of bears to people.
We saw 5 - all from a safe distance.
This was our one venture onto land the whole weekend - we had bear spray, a flare gun, a knife and tons of anxiety.
The wood burning stove doing its best to keep the salon dry
We returned to Juneau to find a bleak Independence Day celebration. It is difficult to discern between the low ceiling of rain clouds and the smoke from the fireworks.
Juneau, what they lack in clear days, they make up for in Bears.