Scattered islands and rugged coastline filled the window upon landing in Sitka on Baranof Island. Tall pines and small cottages were surrounded by crashing waves layered in blues as crisp and clear as any Caribbean sea. Discovering Alaska’s Inside Passage would hold many surprises. Leaving the compact airport in a late morning mist, the air immediately smelled of the pine so familiar from trips to northern Canada. It’s a deep, damp musty scent of the forest: clean, fresh and untouched. Accessible only by plane, ferry or boat, the town is an interesting mix of historic American culture. The area was central to Russia's hopes of establishing a lucrative colony in America based on the fur of the sea otter. Russian settlers left the architecture of onion shaped domes in this sea trading town. Sitka National Historic Park is a great spot for a light hike. The Alaska Raptor Center allows for an up close and personal experience with the state bird and others healing from injury. In the quaint town you'll find plenty of shops featuring local artisan crafts and native food products.