Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ketchikan, AK

Travel log entry #1 (musings edition)
Ketchikan .. The first stop our ship "Radiance of the Seas" made sailing north from Vancouver while cruising the Inside Passage.
It is Sunday, July 1'st and its overcast, cool and wet. This area is a temperate zone rain forest area. The native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian indians are culturally similar to indians in Washington and Oregon but their languages are different.

When the clouds occassionally break and a sliver of sunshine pours in, the natives call this phenomena a "blue cloud". Totem poles are not religious, unless, of course, "nature" is considered a deity. Instead they represent an emphatic statement similar to a public record describing both their history and their mythology. Even though it was rainy and overcast, the Tlingit natives displayed warmth, enthusiasm and pride in their heritage. Potlatch Totem Park and Totem Heritage Center are places where a visitor can learn and
experience this rich culture directly from the natives.

In the afternoon, the sun finally peeked through
while we strolled historic Creek Street with its
infamous red light district and bawdy past.
Fine looking ladies dressed in period costume with feathered boas beckoned us in for a $5 tour of "Dollie's House", a well preserved but long-time defunct brothel. We passed on their invitation knowing that these old-time houses of ill repute are cherished in every town in Alaska and we will visit one later in Skagway.
Since this is the Salmon capital of the world and the creek was running fast and wild, try as I may, I didn't spot any salmon swimming upstream. Maybe they finally caught on to the idea of waiting for calmer waters?

Downtown modern Ketchikan with its 70 (last
count) jewelry stores. If a tourist comes here and just goes kayaking, ATV riding or floatplane
bear-viewing without taking in the native heritage sites, they will be missing a great deal.
Besides, those things can be done just about anywhere these days.
We did buy some warmer clothes and the usual embroidered hats and T's. I even hung a pair of binoculars from my neck to round of that special "tourista" look. Walking around downtown with binoculars... what was I thinking!
Alaskan Summer Ale... nectar of the gods!


jams o donnell said...

Welcome back Roman. It sounds like you had a great holiday. I look forward to more

roman said...

Thanks jams,

Now I have to tackle 2 weeks of piled up and time-sensitive work at my place of employment. What a reality crash!

San Nakji said...

Wow, Alaska is one of the places in the world I would love to go. You are so lucky! That bottom picture is amazing. How are those buildings still standing?

roman said...

San Nakji,

As I recall, the wooden supports were very sturdy and did not look very old. I suspect all these buildings went through extensive renovations to preserve this historic zone.