VIIAlaska08: Ketchikan

Shopping in Ketchikan, World’s Salmon Capital

 

July 28- August 6, 2008

 

IAlaska08: Flight to Vancouver

VAlaska08: Skagway & Train Ride

IIAlaska08: Visit to Butchart Gardens

VIAlaska08: Glacier Bay

IIIAlaska08: Ship M/S Ryndam

VII: Shopping in Ketchikan

IVAlaska08: Juneau for Whale Watch

VIII: Flight Home to Memphis

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

Return To Nolan Travels Home Page (Page updated Aug. 28, 2008)

 

(To View Photo Album of 298 Pictures mainly taken by Betty Nolan, go to http://ritzpix.com, sign in and look for lewis_nolan/ photos. Or, email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com so he can send you a link with automatic admission to the website.)

 

Monday, Aug. 4, 2008 – To Ketchikan and Shopping for Native Crafts

 

The ship docked in Ketchikan on the most beautiful and sunny day we’ve had on this trip to Alaska and week-long cruise. Skies were bright and blue. The salt water was clear and the town looked freshly scrubbed.

 

The weather was a most welcome and pleasant change from the last few days when it looked as though rain was imminent most of the day even though it never did fall. We heard some griping about the near-constant rain of a group of the ship’s passengers who boarded at Skagway after spending most of a week touring Denali Park and other inland attractions by bus.

 

Betty and I were up shortly before 7 a.m. I enjoyed a room service-delivered and excellent breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, wedge of hash brown potatoes, two pieces of whole wheat toast, slice of freshly cut orange, small glass of tomato juice, Diet Coke and a glass of ice water. Betty went upstairs a little later to enjoy her usual light morning meal in the Lido Restaurant buffet.

 

The forecast high temperature today is 69 degrees, which will be the warmest day yet of our trip. It feels especially warm and wonderful compared to the temperatures of 100 we left behind us in Memphis last week.

 

Ketchikan was established in 1887 when a salmon cannery was built at the mouth of Ketchikan Creek. Today, it has 14,000 inhabitants and claims the slogan of “Alaska’s First City” because it is often the first stop of many cruise ships and ferry boats when heading north. It is also the gateway to Misty Fjords National Monument and the only Alaskan Indian Reservation, called Metlakatla on Annette Island. The conjunction of three Indian cultures – Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshan – Ketchikan features several displays of Totem Poles and many small shops selling crafts. Some historians believe the name Ketchikan came from a Tlingit phrase meaning “thundering wings of the eagle.”

 

The Creek Street Historic District near the pier was home to Alaska’s most notorious Red Light District from 1902 until 1954. The zigzagging boardwalk was once home to more than 30 “sporting houses” of ill repute that have been converted into small shops and businesses today.

 

Because of its popularity for visiting cruise ships, the town has 42 jewelry shops which seem to emphasize precious gems set in gold.

 

Shortly after the ship docked at 10 a.m., Betty and I disembarked and walked a few yards to one of the town’s three outlets of Tongass Trading Co. The name Tongass comes from a huge, national forest that is nearby. We purchased a few discounted and free souvenirs including a deck of playing cards, Ulu Knives used for chopping vegetables, calendars with scenic photos of Alaska and a small selection of necklaces and bracelets made of shiny, black hematite stones.

 

We poked around the area near the pier and took photos of several gorgeous totem poles that had been erected in honor of a person or event. We stopped at the Crazy Wolf Studio to look over the displayed Indian crafts and Betty purchased from a Native American clerk a small totem pole carved out of native wood by Indian artist Russel Swift of Juneau. It is about the size of an adult frog and will fit perfectly in a bookcase in our home’s sunroom.

 

We also stopped at the Del Sol Shop where Betty purchased a long-sleeved tee shirt impregnated with a chemical that makes part of the artwork on it turn blue when hit by rays of the sun. She was given a free tote bag that also changes colors in the direct sunshine.

 

It was back to the ship for the good lunch prepared for passengers. I went for the grilled cheeseburger served with French fries while Betty went for the Lido Restaurant buffet and was served a slice of ham and a plate of salad. Later, Betty returned to poke around Ketchikan while I stayed back in our cabin to write and read.

 

We found Ketchikan to be a neat, artsy and beautiful place. The ship channel is wide here and the harbor is plied by fishing and recreation boats of all descriptions plus seaplanes every few minutes. There happened to be three cruise boats docked here during our stay, each disgorging hundreds of well-heeled passengers to shop at the stores.

 

In one section of town we saw from a boardwalk a beautiful, clear stream 15-to-20 feet wide that was cascading down a hillside of rocks. Such an idyllic setting gave me a feel for why some Americans will trade their comfort of living in cities for the wilds of sparsely populated Alaska.

 

Betty and I enjoyed sitting in the sun on the port side of Promenade Deck with Susie Brown. We walked our daily mile around the boat and enjoyed watching the passengers come and go in the shopping area beneath our ship.

 

That evening, the ship put on a fancy dinner in the Rotterdam Restaurant. The staff put on a good show by parading around the room with members of the entertainment cast. Dinner was excellent as usual. Betty and I both had pate appetizers in a “vertical” salad arrangement. I went for sliced duck l’orange for the main course while Betty had sautéed shrimp. For dessert, we were served a sculptured, white chocolate figure stuffed with a “surprise” filling of cake and chocolate mousse. We purchased a bottle of California Chardonnay to share with our dinner companions, the Bauers and Hernandez couples. Ulrich reciprocated with wine he purchased.

 

During dinner conversation we learned that Shelly had served two years in the Israeli Army, a surprise since she is so feminine and petite. She had emigrated to Israeli from her home country of Poland. All in all, our table companions provided charming and fascinating conversation and we talked until the dining room was closed.

 

All of us then went upstairs to the Lido Deck to have a look at the huge display of chocolate yummies prepared by the ship’s kitchen staff. It was an extravagant and impressive show of cakes, pies, carvings and small servings of imagination and scrumptious-looking desserts. Some of our fellow passengers seemed to have gargantuan appetites and sampled nearly everything. Betty and I passed on taking in additional calories from the mountains of chocolate cakes, pastries and candy sweets so late and retired for the night.

 

Continue With Part VIII, Vancouver and Flight Home  /  Return To Nolan Travels