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Day 3: Ketchikan

What a difference a day makes; twenty-five little hours... The weather is gorgeous.

sunny 78 °F
View Silver Seas Cruise on paulej4's travel map.

We arrive at Ketchikan at 8:00am joining the Grand Princess (2,600 passengers and 1,150 crew) which got here two hours ahead of us. The Disney Wonder (2,400 passengers and 950 crew), which I can see on the horizon astern, is due to dock at 11:00am. Adding our 382 passengers and 295 crew members, there are 7,777 visitors here today. The high is forecast to be 76 degrees, the low 60 degrees with sunny skies with a 10% chance of rain.

The morning is spectacular. The sea is calm because the wind has subsided to but a breeze. We watched the sunrise over the mountains as we cruised closer to Ketchikan and left the sliding door to our veranda open to enjoy the 65 degree morning. The sound of the waves reminds me of our place in Vero Beach. This is but one of the things that I love about cruising and what I hope B4 comes to love as well.

Ketchikan, settled in 1885, is home to just over 8,000 people and is the southeasternmost city in the state of Alaska. If you count the folks living in surrounding boroughs, the population climbs to just under 14,000 people. Just under twenty percent of these folks are of Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian descent. Water dominates the region. In fact, Ketchikan is located on the west coast of Revillagigedo Island (called Revilla Island by the locals). At one point, there were seven salmon canneries in operation here producing 1.5 million cases of salmon each year. Logging was big here until the turn of the century. Today, most folks here work in farming, fishing and forestry along with the typical services needed to support any city.

This is either the first or last stop on almost every “Inside Passage” Alaska cruise. In all, around 500 times this season—from May 3 through October 6—cruise ships will tie up here bringing just over one million people to visit what is billed as “the world’s largest collection of totem poles.”

No vehicles are allowed on many of Ketchikan’s streets because they are actually wooden walkways, the most infamous of which is Creek Street, once Ketchikan’s red light district which formerly hosted around 30 brothels.

The Ketchikan International Airport is a five-minute ferry ride from here on Gravina Island. You may recall the infamous proposed $398 million “Bridge to Nowhere.” In 2005, then U.S. Senator Ted Stevens proposed it to replace the ferry. Labeled “pork barrel spending” it was fiercely opposed as wasteful, and never built.

The whole place is surrounded by the 17 million acre Tongass National Forest which is the largest in the United States. large_OutsideKetchikan.JPGSailing in you get an idea of how much timber there is. Forty miles away is Misty Fiords (Fjords if you prefer) which is accessible only by boat or float plane.

KetchikanMainStreet.JPGEffyStoreCloseBy.JPGb1c3d5e0-9284-11e8-88ad-6986f9091436.JPGOverBusyKetchikan.JPGSilverShadowTiedUpKetchikan.JPGBusyKetchikanHarborWide.JPGSummerJob.JPGBerylBalconyCU.JPGBerylBalconyWide.JPGBerylWithMiner.JPGOur berth is in the primary spot--even though Grand Princess arrived ahead of us--and the view from our veranda is directly down Mission Street. A panoramic view gives proof to B4's comment that this looks more like a movie set than a real town just as long as the movie you are making is about jewelry stores. Were it up to us, EFFY would star in the film. We stopped in their store and visited with the manager and staff, swapping stories about Effy and Benny and more. Once they figured out who B4 was their eyes lit up bigger than their jewelry--which is stunning of course. EFFY is wonderful product from wonderful people.

As we sailed in, B4 and I snagged an outside table for breakfast lingering as those who had early excursions fled the ship. This is truly a delightful morning.

We have agreed to meet Fred and Jami to disembark Silver Shadow at 9:30. Our itinerary called for us to meet our shuttle bus near the Ketchikan Visitor’s Bureau at the Rain Gauge and bronze “Founding Fathers” statue at 9:40am for a 10:00am departure from Misty Fjords Air & Outfitting Seaplane Base. That is, thanks to Jami's pre-arrangements, what allowed us to have such a leisurely morning.

Our aircraft is a 5 passenger plus pilot and co-pilot (we don't have a co-pilot so Jami sits there) de Havilland Beaver and we are treated to a one-hour-fifteen-minute flight over 2.3 million acres of untouched rugged wilderness with one twenty minute stop on the water. Eric is our captain. Born and raised and still in Ketchikan, he fell in love with airplanes as a little guy and is living his dream; at least in the summer months.

He tells us that Ketchikan and its downtown is "mostly boarded up" from the time the last cruise ship departs in early October until the first one arrives on May Day.

B4 and I have seaplane experience out of New York City with wonderful friends Dennis and Liz so the water landing on the Beaver’s pontoon floats is old hat. Below us are vertical rock formations, including New Eddystone Rock, large_NewEddystoneRock.JPGsnow capped peaks far in the distance (up to 6,000 feet above sea level), waterfalls, freshwater lakes and saltwater fjords. large_AlgaeBloomBoundaryKetchikan.JPGAlgae plumbs have overtaken much of the seawater below making for excellent filter feeding for humpbacks but none were here today for the feast.

Sometimes there are black bears, grizzly bears, mountain goats, bald eagles and whales and we all have a window seat for the show. But the show is a no-show. I saw one eagle far below us. Oh; and bear poop on the beach. (Does a bear poop in the woods? I don't know but that's a 'yes' for the beach.) 3374f940-92b5-11e8-8c1b-45d45e92d879.jpgThe noise-cancelling headsets are a nice feature allowing us to clearly hear our captain’s narration. FYI: Misty Fjords Air boasts “a perfect safety record since our inception in 1981.” Today is no exception. Eric says there are about 40 "floats" flying cruise ship tourists around here on any particular day; I believe him as they are thick as bees near a hive.BerylDeplaning.JPGBerylPaulBehmCanalCove.JPGLandingOffBehmCanalCove.JPGGroupWIthBeaver.JPG

According to the Ketchikan Daily News, the same cannot be said for Taquan Air (just a couple of miles up the road and buzzing by us as I write this) which had one of its de Havilland DHC-3T Turbine Otters carrying 11 passengers crash into the side of Mount Jumbo on July 10th. 72-year-old pilot Mike Hudgins said he had been flying under visual flight rules with visibility at 3 to 5 miles when clouds and fog closed in and he tried to climb out of it but ended up crashing into the side of the mountain. The U.S. Coast Guard sent Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Sitka to the site to implement rescue operations. As with our flight today, everyone survived.TaquanAir.JPGKetchikanDuckTour.JPG

The Ketchikan Duck Boat Tours are only slightly filled. The Branson tragedy of just nine days ago where seventeen died is perhaps to blame.

All aboard was 1:30 (and all were) and we sailed at 2:00. B4 has a spa appointment at 3:00 (BIOTEC Firm-A-Lift...whatever that is. The only thing I know is that it was delivered by an esthetician whatever that is) and I have a writing assignment, hereby undertaken. At 5:30 there is "Boutique's Special: Diamond and gemstone talk with Alberto Brand Ambassador Anna." B4 buys from Alberto and wants to go. Should I warn Anna as to who is going to be in her audience? No; such pressure has been known to create atrial defib.

But before any of that we again go to "Afternoon Teatime" where Natalia plays and we have finger sandwiches. We are so damned civilized that I want to hold my pinky up whilst I sup my English Breakfast. That's a lie by the way. I had coffee with my finger sandwiches. I was shocked to learn that they come in many varieties, none of them containing fingers.

When we return to 719, Abraham has provided a new bottle of prosecco, properly iced in our silver bucket and delivered this evening's canapés: guacamole and ceviche with chips, fancy olives, portions of a spanish frittata accompanied by fresh fruit, including B4's favorite fresh berries. I hope this can hold us until dinner.

The Captain comes on the PA and announces whale spouts ahead. I get out the camera and the big lens and there is a payoff. Just off our balcony: one good tail picture.large_TailDrenched.JPG

Did I mention that laundry and pressing is included at no charge? No? Well, it is. Ours came back with our dainties properly folded and wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a bow. I am, frankly, disappointed that my shirts don't arrive pre-placed upon my body. Dinner tonight is supposed to be "Dinner Under The Stars at The Pool Grill" at 7:00. The stars will be up there but will undoubtedly go unseen as sunset is not until 8:58pm at this longitude. But the real problem is the wind and the dropping temperature. We decide to forego "Under The Stars," change clothes a bit and head back to the main dining room; it's again great.

The Silversea "Voices of Silversea" are performing "O'Reilly's" tonight but we skip it. There is a Silver Shadow Trio to hear in the Panorama Lounge and Piano Vocal Soloist Ramon in The Bar. We try Ramon. I don't care for him; he uses a synthesizer with strings and organs and heaven knows what else. It's too much. I have heard only a snippet from Cocktail Pianist Natalia (She is in The Bar before dinner) but she is very good indeed. Truth be told, B4 aspires to be like Natalia at the keyboard. When she has time for lessons, I wouldn't bet against her. She should have time for lessons in 2022 or so.

Goodnight, Moon.

Posted by paulej4 23:36 Archived in USA Tagged alaska ketchikan

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Aspiring Pianist Beryl!

I get such vicarious pleasure from your travelogues, Paul.

by Tschekirke

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