Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day Three: Ketchikan

Mary and Ed Reynolds, 28 June 2010

When I blogged about Monday’s activities, I forgot to mention that Monday was “formal night.” Except for the Horizon Buffet, all the restaurants required formal wear. Ed was a little skeptical, but while we were packing I suggested bringing along some nice clothes just in case. I’m glad we did.

Ed and I have been married for almost 6 weeks, but we don’t have a formal wedding photo. When we discovered that the ship’s photographers were taking formal pictures that night, I thought it was a good idea to get a formal shot from our honeymoon, something nice to hang on the wall at home. We chose the above photo from the selection they offered.

Our first view of Ketchikan, Alaska

Around 6:00 yesterday morning, Tuesday, the Sapphire Princess pulled alongside the town of Ketchikan. It was our first stop of the cruise.  We would be docked there until 4:00 p.m., so most of the day was all ours to explore.

Ketchikan is called “The First City of Alaska” since it’s the first port you come to when traveling north along the Alaskan coast. Despite it’s small size (about 8,000 people), it is the 4th largest city in the state. The main industry has always been salmon fishing, but tourism is quickly taking its place. Until yesterday, I had no idea Ketchikan was actually located on an island.

Mary watches as we approach our dock.

We also learned that there is no flat land on the island. A home is either built into the side of the mountain, or the granite is blasted away to make a space for it, or it is built over the ocean on a pier-like structure.

This steep road, which was blasted through the mountain, is a rarity. Most roads are built on wooden trestles around the town, and many of them are more than a hundred years old.

We waved good-bye to our ship around 8:00 a.m. and went ashore. Ed immediately signed us up for a Duck tour on the amphibious Duck bus/boat below.

Ed poses by the Duck bus/boat.

We saw a lot of interesting sites and picked up many interesting facts on the tour of the town. The part where we drove into the ocean and sailed away was fun, but we didn’t get to see as much wildlife along the shore as we’d hoped for.

Mary finds a Ketchikan sign.

While we waited for our tour, we wandered around downtown Ketchikan. We discovered a locally-owned gift shop called Sockeye Sam’s, where we found the perfect souvenirs for Sarah, Jacob, and Dylan. I’m very excited to give them to my kids!

Ed and I also found tee-shirts and a few other fun items for ourselves. At one point I paused to admire a necklace made of dymond wood carved into the shape of a whale’s tail. About an hour later, after we’d left the shop, my sweet husband surprised me by placing the necklace around my neck. He’d bought it for me on the sly! You can almost see it in the picture below…

Old college buddies Terri and Mary, together again!

One of my old college friends from Arizona State University, class of 1990, was from Alaska. After graduation she moved to Ketchikan and became a special education teacher there. Terri and I have exchanged Christmas cards and newsletters every year since our graduation 20 years ago, but we’ve never seen each other since then.

By the time I realized Ketchikan was one of our stops on the cruise, it was too late to send a letter to tell Terri of our trip, and I didn’t have her phone number. So when we arrived, I asked a shop keeper for a phone directory and started looking. When I told Ed that Terri’s husband’s name was Hall Anderson, the shop girl exclaimed, “Hall Anderson? He’s a photographer for the Ketchikan Daily News!” Yes! I knew he was a photographer for the local newspaper!

The creek through town where thousands of salmon return each year to spawn

Hall answered the phone on the first ring, and when I explained who I was he handed the phone right to Terri! They had just returned from an extended fishing trip the previous day, and they were preparing to leave on vacation to Washington and Oregon the following day. To me, it’s a miracle that the day we arrived was the one and only day we could have reached them and had a visit!

Homes and businesses built along the creek

Terri met us after the Duck tour and took us to a local seafood restaurant. Then she took us to see some of the totem poles Ketchikan is famous for. The world’s oldest collection of totem poles is located there. Before she drove us back to the ship, she took us to her house, where we were able to spend some time visiting with her and Hall and their big yellow lab, Tucker.

By the end of the day, Ed and I were worn out. But we both agreed the day turned out to be unexpectedly perfect!


Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog when you are on vacations! So fun to be able to "travel" with you.

Jill Shelley said...

I can understand why you and Ed thought you would see more wildlife than you did. The way Sarah Palin talks about Alaska it seems you need to bring a rifle with you to fend them all off!

What a sweet husband to secretly buy you that necklace. :) I love how he pampers you.

~ Wyndie said...

Darn, no "Day Four" entry yet! I guess I'll have to give up and get myself to bed. Looking forward to your next adventure ... {*hugs*}