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SeaLetter Cruise Quiz
Cruise Quiz


by Alan Walker

There are a lot of geniuses among our SeaLetter readers, based on the responses that we have received. Nancy Anthony of Larkspurg CA, George Howarth of Monessen PA, Susan Carr of Weymouth MA, and Teresa of Healy AK (!) had the most correct answers. Luna SeaLiz (great nickname!) of Dearborn MI, Douglas Hembroff of Concorde CA, Glen Longshore of Monmouth OR, Diane Robins of Penfield NY, Al of Anchorage AK (!), Fran Perri of Chicago IL, Edward Chapman of Overland MO, Chris H of Stamford CT, Star of La Habra CA, Carl Lappinga of Newbury Park CA, Ed Rivera of Humacao PR, and Donna of Antioch IL, were also close to perfect in their answers.

Other good entries came from Gary Rakestraw of San Antonio TX, Rob Jacobs of Manchester NH, Nancy Binder of Philadelphia PA, Tommy Hunsaka of Lancaster CA, Jay of Clairon PA, Diana Petca of Houston TX, Gale Bollock of Petaluma CA, Frank Bushakra of La Grande OR, Barbara McAloon of Washington NJ, Diane of Columbia MD, Jeannine of Greeley CO, William Carpi of Las Vegas NV, Jerry from Mexico City, Carolyn from Poughkeepsie NY, Tom Syler of Alliance, OH, Carlene Hopkins of Somerset CA, Russell McNutt of Knoxville, TN, Jacques Latour of Brossard PQ, T. Chaplin of St. John's NF, Rich Johnson of Park Ridge IL, Stephen Urban of Barnegat NJ, Dorothy of Philadelphia PA, and Pat of Charlotte NC, as well as fellow Vancouverites Ed Chen and J. Spanza.

Some decided to have fun rather than get full marks, such as our Vancouver contestants who both said Dolly Varden was a country and western singer having large credentials. Ahem. Please forgive us if you sent in an entry, and your name wasn't mentioned due to our publishing deadline.

So for all you smart people who did so well on the quiz, here's an extra question for you (and the answer is at the end of this article, but no peeking - this is an interactive program and a hand will come out and smack you if you look before thinking):

Which of the following statements is/are correct?:

Of the 50 U.S. states:
  • (a) Florida is the most southerly.
  • (b) Hawaii is the most southerly.
  • (c) Alaska is the most northerly.
  • (d) Maine is the most northerly.
  • (e) Alaska is the most westerly.
  • (f) Hawaii is the most westerly.
  • (g) Alaska is the most easterly.
  • (h) Maine is the most easterly.

Alaskan Ulu KnifeBarbara McAloon posed a question for me: What is an ulu knife? and gave me these alternatives:

  • (a) a knife used to prepare salmon
  • (b) a knife used to prepare the traditional Eskimo dish, ulu
  • (c) a knife sold to a tourist that cannot be carried on board a plane because it is considered a weapon
  • (d) a knife invented by the famous South Seas explorer, Hono Ulu.

I'm guessing (a) and (c) Barbara, although I really like (d)!

Now let's get to the answers, but first let me make it clear that I would probably be rated as "dumb as an Alaskan musk ox" if I didn't have my answer books handy.

1. The Red Onion Saloon in Skagway is famous for:

(a) its original 19 foot mahogany bar
(b) the smell of red onions
(c) its year-round topless sun-bathing area on the roof

The Red Onion Saloon in Skagway is famous for its original 19 foot mahogany bar. This popular watering hole has been a favorite with the locals since 1898, although the building itself is not considered an historic building. It's certainly fun to visit for a little pioneer atmosphere. Those who said it was famous for its "year-round topless sunbathing area" were obviously pulling my leg. Skagway is about the same latitude as St. Petersburg, and has pretty cool winters.

2. Dolly Varden is:

(a) a freshwater char having yellow spots on its sides
(b) a country & western singer having large credentials
(c) a Carnival Cruise Lines Barbie doll

A Dolly Varden is a fresh water char (fish) having yellow spots on its side. The "Dolly" in the name is not from Dolly's famous brothel on Creek Street, in Ketchikan, but from Charles Dickens' novel "Barnaby Rudge".

3A. How much did Russia receive from the U.S. for the sale of Alaska in 1867?

(a) $7.2 billion
(b) $7.2 million
(c) $7.20

The U.S. paid $7.2 million to buy Alaska from the Russians in 1867. This worked out to be about two cents per acre, which might be about $4.00 per acre in today's money - still a good deal.

3B. Did Russia charge sales tax?

(a) No
(b) Yes

3C. Are the Russians sorry that they sold Alaska?

(a) No
(b) Yes
(c) Very

No, Russia didn't charge sales tax, but you can bet that they are very sorry that they sold it, with all of the subsequent income from mining, fishing, oil and tourism. It's one of the few States that has more men than women, so that's an advantage for "some."

4. What city in Alaska is named after the U.S. Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians?

(a) Kissinger
(b) Seward
(c) Valdez

William Seward was the U.S. Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of Alaska. The decision at the time was not a popular one, and many Americans called the Alaska purchase "Seward's Folly". Of course, nowadays we would call it "Russia's Folly". The Russians originally coveted Alaska for the fur trade, but that trade diminished in the 1860's because of over-hunting.

5. The name "Alaska" comes from the Aleut word "alyeska" which means:

(a) great land
(b) a Russian alleyway
(c) giant fish
(d) baked beans

"Great land" was the correct answer. I personally preferred the definition "a Russian alleyway."

6. What year saw the start of the goldrush to the Klondike?

(a) 1897
(b) 1797
(c) 2097

1897 saw the start of the gold rush to the Klondike, although the next year saw the biggest rush of miners (over 60,000 gold seekers set out for the Klondike in 1897-1898).

7. Where is the Klondike?

(a) British Columbia, Canada
(b) Yukon Territory, Canada
(c) Alaska, Canada

The Klondike is in Canada's Yukon Territory, although access to the gold-bearing Bonanza Creek was generally by way of sailing to Skagway, and it would be easy to think that the Klondike itself was part of Alaska. Alaska had already had a minor gold rush when gold was discovered in Juneau some 16 years earlier.

8. Ketchikan has an average rainfall of:

(a) 62 inches
(b) 162 inches
(c) 13.5 feet
(d) 4050 millimeters

Ketchikan has a average annual rainfall of an incredible 162 inches, which is the same as 13.5 feet or 4050 millimeters, so (b) (c) and (d) were all correct. That doesn't mean to say you couldn't have a nice sunny day when you're visiting Ketchikan on your Alaska cruise.

9. Creek Street in Ketchikan was known as a district where "both men and salmon came upstream to spawn". That area was:

(a) a creek
(b) a red light district
(c) a hatchery

Creek Street was originally a red light district, and is now a very popular tourist attraction. Dolly's house has been preserved as a museum with original furnishings, and "other memorabilia" (whatever that might mean!).

10. What is the present name of New Archangel, the capital of Alaska in 1808 when Russia owned Alaska?

(a) Sitka
(b) Juneau
(c) Roulette

New Archangel, capital of Alaska in 1808 when Russia owned Alaska, is now Sitka. Sitka stayed the capital until it was moved to Juneau. Over the years, there have been efforts to move Alaska's capital closer to its largest population centre, Anchorage, but Juneau residents have successfully resisted such attempts - and no wonder, as more than half the employed residents of Juneau work for the government.

11. Where did the Russians first establish a settlement in Alaska?

(a) Sitka
(b) Sea of Tranquility
(c) Scottsdale

The only reasonable answer for question 11 was Sitka, where trader Alexander Baranof arrived in 1799 to establish a fort. Glen Longshore of Monmouth and Jerry from Mexico City have both written to advise that the answer to this question should be "Kodiak", or the first settlement on the mainland itself at "Seldovia". They sound like they know what they're talking about, so I'll go off and join the Alaskan musk oxen.

12. What city is the only U.S. state capital not accessible by road?

(a) Tallahassee
(b) Juneau
(c) Anchorage

Juneau, Alaska's capital, is not accessible by road, even though it has 30,000 inhabitants. A 1995 Los Angeles Times poll ranked Juneau fifth among the top 10 cruise destinations in the world.

13. What Alaska city has the largest area (an incredible 4710 square miles) of any city in the U.S.?

(a) Fairbanks
(b) Nome
(c) Sitka

Sitka claims the honour of being the largest city in the United States in terms of area, at 4,710 square miles, about half a square mile per person.

14. When Alaska became a state, it was the:

(a) 49th
(b) 50th
(c) 51st

Alaska became the 49th state in 1959. When I was in Hawaii in 1957, prior to Hawaii becoming a state, I bought a record that was produced by the "49th State Record Company". I wondered if they changed their name after Alaska got in as the 49th state, before Hawaii. It was probably just as well, as a TV show called "Hawaii Four-Nine", would probably sound pretty silly.

15. "Iditarod" is:

(a) a motor vehicle question
(b) a famous sled-dog race
(c) wool from the Alaskan musk ox
(d) 1000 miles
(e) Anchorage to Nome
(f) held in March

Iditarod is the famous 1,000 mile sled-dog race from Anchorage to Nome, held in March each year, so (a), (d), (e) and (f) were all correct.

16. Sydney, Australia, and Anchorage, Alaska, share what common piece of history relating to the English explorer, Captain Cook?

(a) he was the first European to discover the future site of both places
(b) he was killed there
(c) he rented videos there

Captain James Cook was the first European to discover the future sites of Sydney and Anchorage. One of Cook's lieutenants, George Vancouver, did a better job of getting his name on places such as the cities of Vancouver in both British Columbia and Washington State, and the huge island of Vancouver Island, which creates a large part of the Inside Passage to Alaska. The most famous landmark named after Cook himself is probably Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand.

17. The highest mountain in the U.S., Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet, can be seen on a clear day from what city which is 150 miles away:

(a) Sitka
(b) Anchorage
(c) Germantown

Mt. McKinley can be seen from Anchorage on a clear day.

18. The 1964 Alaska earthquake caused parts of Seward to drop:

(a) 6 feet
(b) 20 feet
(c) 600 feet
(d) their pants

Parts of Seward dropped 6 feet during the 1964 Alaska earthquake. I'm sure if I had been there at the time, I would have dropped my pants as well. The earthquake also caused a tidal wave, creating destruction in other Alaska ports, and ports in British Columbia. I was visiting the town of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island just a few days after the tidal wave, and I was quite surprised to see, on the first fairway of one of the local golf courses, three houses! I did not have a chance to see if I could hit one of the houses with my first tee shot, as for some reason the golf course was closed to play.

19. What is dog mushing?

(a) sled-dog racing
(b) Fido on the blender
(c) canine necking

"Dog mushing" is sled-dog racing, and is the official State sport of Alaska.

20. What is sourdough?

(a) not a bread
(b) anyone who has managed to weather an Alaskan winter
(c) an old-time Alaskan resident who is 'sour on the country, but without enough dough to get out'

A "sourdough" is both a person who has managed to weather an Alaska winter, and an old-time Alaskan resident who is "sour on the country, but without enough dough to get out".

21. Cheechako is:

(a) a newcomer to Alaska
(b) an Alaskan line dance
(c) Chong's partner

A "Cheechako" is a newcomer to Alaska, but some readers decided to have fun and called it an Alaskan line dance, or Chong's partner.

22. When does Haines have its 4th of July celebrations?

(a) all day
(b) yearly
(c) July 5

Haines' residents celebrate July 4 the same as other Americans, all day and yearly on July 4. I guess you could call that a trick question. I'll be in Haines for the first time in my life in about a week's time, when I cruise on Celebrity's Galaxy. At that time, I'll check with the local residents to make sure they do celebrate on July 4. (grin)

23. Sitka is famous for its Russian heritage, especially these architecture devices:

(a) onion-shaped domes
(b) rutabaga-shaped domes
(c) Brussel Sprouts-shaped domes

Sitka is famous for its buildings with the Russian architectural device of onion-shaped domes. I suppose they could also look like "rutabaga-shaped domes", but no two rutabagas seem to be the same shape. Sitka is a really interesting town to visit, but watch out, it's not on the Inside Passage, and the seas can be rough. The worst weather I have ever experienced in some 300 days of cruising is the trip from Glacier Bay to Sitka.

How did YOU do? Here are the ratings as published by the SeaLetter Alaska Quiz Review Board:

16 - 25 Genius, or else you live or have lived in Alaska.

6 - 15 Excellent - you are now entitled to book an Alaska cruise.

0 - 5 You are as dumb as an Alaskan musk ox. Please take the quiz again, and see if you can do better.

Answer to "Which of the following statements is/are correct?" above:

Most people usually correctly pick Alaska as the most northerly state, and Hawaii as the most southerly. It would be easy to think of Hawaii as the most westerly of the U.S. states also, but Alaska (by way of the Aleutian Islands) stretches much further out than Hawaii. The real trick part of the question is that Alaska is also the most EASTERLY of the United States (what?) because the dividing line between east and west in the world is at the 180 degree meridian, and some of the Aleutian Islands are well past that dividing line. If that doesn't seem to make sense, think of being in San Francisco, and talking about the eastern U.S. in one direction, and the "Far East" and the "Middle East" in the opposite direction. When you are stumped for conversation at a cocktail party, you can always say "Do you know what the most southerly..."

Thanks again for all those who joined in our not-too-serious quiz (although there were some tough questions). Perhaps we'll do another one in a future issue of SeaLetter.


Alan WalkerOriginally from Australia, Alan has for some time been permanently settled in Vancouver where he is a practicing Attorney. He has been a SeaLetter columnist, reviewer and our resident humorist for some time now.

To find all of Alan's SeaLetter columns, featured and humorous articles, and cruise and port reviews, visit our SeaLetter COLUMNISTS Index.

Alan loves email, and can be reached at: Alan@sealetter.com.

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