Alaska Recap (Part 6 – Ketchikan)

It’s just fun to say Ketchikan…Ketchikan-kan-kan-kan-kan (best imagined to the tune/rhythm of “Because We Can Can Can” from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack)!
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We landed in Ketchikan early in the morning. Our only goal for Ketchikan was to secure a reasonably priced Misty Fjords flightseeing trip. I wanted to experience a seaplane ride, even moreso after seeing so many of them in Juneau. We waited until about a half hour after landing to get off the ship. The weather was gorgeous…sunny, breezy, and cool. It was the perfect weather to walk around the town. As we got off the ship, we spotted a hut selling tours. We stopped by and, sure enough, we were able to get the same flightseeing tour that sells through NCL for about 1/2 of the cost. We signed up for the tour and then started walking. Unfortunately, we turned left when leaving the dock. This was a mistake. Everything is to the right, even though when you first look around, it seems like it’s the other way around.
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After a course correction (there are copious public maps in Ketchikan), we wandered around until we found the official visitor’s center and museum. We skipped the museum, but we did pick up a walking tour guidebook (free) and proceeded to follow most (but not all) of the tour. Ketchikan has several totem poles around the city. This was my best picture of a totem pole, as well as some fireweed.
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Eventually, we worked our way to Creek Street, which is a cute little neighborhood on stilts over a creek. In the gold rush era, this neighborhood was the red light district, but now it’s a craft and tourist mall, mostly.
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The “creek” that runs through Creek Street was a rushing river while we were there. During the summer, it runs faster.
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A few weeks later, and we would have been able to see salmon moving upstream. In fact, they’ve built a salmon ladder to ease the salmons’ journey.
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DH and I could not really reason out how this would work, whether the “rungs” drop down into the water or stay above the water. The salmon do have to specifically choose to go up it, which leads to interesting questions about salmon intelligence and communication. Also, are we screwing with survival of the fittest by building ladders or simply making up for the alterations to nature that we’ve already made by fishing heavily?

There’s also a funicular from Creek Street up to a lodge. It’s a cheap ride ($2 per person for unlimited rides), and I felt it was worth it just to check “funicular” off of my transportation list. It’s not a particularly long or steep ride, but you do get a good view of the city as you go up and down.
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From the top of the funicular, there’s a couple of “trails” to go back down to town. DH took one called the Married Man trail. Supposedly, this trail was used by married men back in the day to go covertly to Creek Street from the residential part of town. You can also get to the salmon ladder from these trails. From the top of the funicular, they’re a downhill/downstairs walk. Obviously, they’ll be uphill/upstairs if you don’t use the funicular.
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After our walking tour, we headed back toward the docks to meet up with the flightseeing tour. They picked us up outside of a (large and friendly) souvenir and gear shop near the ships. The flight docks were about fifteen minutes down the road from the main downtown area. The young women driving the van were college students doing this as their summer job. I have videos of us taking off, standing and chatting on the floats, and landing that are inserted below. I’ve also inserted a few pictures. The Misty Fjords were gorgeous. You can only get in by flying or hiking. No cars are allowed. There’s tons of little lakes like the one we stopped on, and we were amazed that, despite about eight planes going at the same time, they all split off to their own little lake to land. So, every plane got a private lake. The park service rents out cabins, but you’re on your own to get to and from the cabins. People also can build cabins if they get permits and such, but you have to float your materials into the area, down the various rivers connecting the lakes.

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After the flightseeing, we were basically out of time. DH did a quick run to/from the ship to get internet access (have I mentioned his addiction to podcasts?), and I browsed a few shops. But, we really had less than an hour left in port. We met back up in the room and then went to Blue Lagoon for delicious wings for dinner.
The next day was a sea day, and there wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about it. We played a lot of trivia with our Philadelphia couple friends. We did a mojito tasting. I discovered that I love a drink called Dark & Stormy…ginger beer with a specific brand of rum. I went swimming in the pools. The adults-only pool was not heated (bastards!) but the kids’ pool was. The Jacuzzis were awesome, though. 🙂

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