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Posts Tagged ‘Ketchikan’


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Counting time on either end of our cruise on the MV Misty Fjord, we spent three days in Ketchikan trying to cram in everything we could.  We arrived the afternoon of August 2, an incredibly warm and sunny day in a city located in the Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest temperate rain forest.  Either we were very lucky or our timing was perfect, as it rained only one day during our visit.  Average annual precipitation in Ketchikan is over 165 inches, ranging from a  low of 6.43 inches in July to 20.29 inches in October.

Do you remember the politically infamous “Bridge to Nowhere?”  Well, Ketchikan is where it was proposed to be constructed, to connect Ketchikan (on Revillagigedo Island) to its airport 1/2 mile across the Tongass Narrows on Gravina Island.  The 2005 Highway Bill provided $223 million for the bridge, which would have allowed people to drive to the airport rather than take a ferry across the Narrows.  So, since there is no bridge from the airport to Ketchikan, we did the bag drag from the airport to the ferry, paid $5.00 each and rode the ferry across the Narrows to pick up the shuttle to our hotel.  Fortunately it was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed the short ferry ride.  Even though the ferry lends extra character to Ketchikan, a bridge sure would have been nice and time saving.

The airport ferry (left) crossing the busy Narrows back to Ketchikan

On the ferry bound for Ketchikan

Being from a place with limited choices (Fairbanks), food and shopping are always the mainstay of any trip.  Although the food in Ketchikan was good, it was nothing to rave about, but it is always nice to have different choices.  I didn’t do any shopping, except for the obligatory tee shirt or two.  Since Ketchikan is a cruise ship port, there are many, many shops, and a disproportionate  number of high end jewelry stores, which must do well or they wouldn’t be there.  I never thought about going on a cruise to buy jewelry.  But then, there is Alaska gold jewelry.  Keep in mind that most of these shops board up for the season as soon as the last tourist walks out the door, and their owners set up somewhere warm and sunny for the winter.

Looking at Creek Street, a boardwalk over Ketchikan Creek in what was the old "red light district."

Cruise ship passenger doing their thing down by the docks in Ketchikan. Ketchikan is the first (or last stop) in Alaska for many cruise ships.

When cruise ships dock, passengers seek alternatives to cruise ship food, so the seafood shacks where crowded.  To be fair about the food, Bill enjoyed his fresh seafood; I don’t enjoy seafood.  Ice cream is also a priority for me, I have to have a waffle cone of one of my favorite flavors.  Apparently ice cream was also a priority for the cruise ship people, as it was nearly combat to get get one in what seemed to be the only ice cream shop in town.

Not counting the MV Misty Fjord and the Misty Fjords cruise and kayaking, which will be addressed separately, the highlights of our Ketchikan stay were ziplining, a bicycle tour and even more kayaking.  The disappointment was that we didn’t have the time to do even more biking and kayaking in such a beautiful place.  There is only one main road in town, the Tongass HIghway, which runs about 31 miles from north to south on the island, with Ketchikan virtually in the middle.

One of 34 totem poles in Saxman Native Village, about 3 miles south of downtown Ketchikan. Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles.

As for ziplining, this was our first time, and I can say that I am now a fanatic.  There are two ziplines in Ketchikan, one at the north end and one at the south end, and we did them both.  The Southeast Exposure Ropes and Zipline Park on the north end was the first we tackled.  I conveniently placed myself in the rear of the group, so I could watch everyone go before I had to make the leap.  But the guide fooled me and started from the back of the line, so much for that strategy.  The first step (off the tower) was the hardest, but as soon as I was in the air I was hooked.  I have been searching for a word to describe it, and I think “liberating” fits best.  The ropes were also fun, a nice addition to the park, and, for me, required more nerve than the zipline.

Bill on the "practice run" at Southeast Exposure's Rope and Zipline Park

Bill on one of the ropes courses at Southeast Exposure's Ropes and Zipline Park

Having had so much fun on the ziplines, we did the other course the next day.  Alaska Canopy Adventures is on the south end of Ketchikan and offers two courses, Bear Creek and Eagle Creek; we did the latter.  The course is higher in the hills with some longer runs, has three hanging sky bridges and the view from the lines is amazing. Both this and the Ropes and Zipline Park were fun, and I would do them both again.  I think I am addicted.

Looking off a platform at Alaska Canopy Adventures' Eagle course

One of the hanging sky bridges on Alaska Canopy Adventures' Eagle course

On the evening before our departure for home, Kelvin, Bill and I went on one last magical kayak in the waters of Clover Pass, on the north end of the island.

An evening kayak in Clover Pass before heading back to reality

There Are More Photos In My Ketchikan and Ziplining Galleries

An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse

Several weeks ago a friend of ours (Kelvin) tempted us with a stateroom on the MV Misty Fjord for a five day cruise and kayak around the Misty Fjords National Monument in the Tongass National Forest by Ketchikan.  We talked with Kelvin on Friday, and on Saturday we arranged air travel to Ketchikan, kennel reservations for the boys, and hotel reservations in Ketchikan on either end of the cruise.  It was amazing that we could coordinate these arrangements on such short notice, while Kelvin pulled together the logistics ( kayaks, coordinating with the Captain, etc) on the Ketchikan end.  On Tuesday morning (Aug 2) we departed for Ketchikan to catch the cruise which was scheduled to depart the following day.  The only time we had been in Ketchikan was in June 1991, when our Alaska Marine Highway ferry docked for an hour or so.  The only things I remembered about Ketchikan were the rain, the totem pole park and having a drink in a bar somewhere.  Travel to Southeast Alaska is either by air or water, there are no roads connecting it to the rest of the state.  We have basically avoided traveling to the southeast because of the travel logistics and the rain.

Alaska Air is the only commercial carrier servicing Ketchikan, and there are two routings; one though Seattle and the other a milk run through Southeast Alaska.  We wanted to use miles and the only approved routing for a mileage award was the milk run.  So off we went: Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangell and finally Ketchikan; it was eight hours,  but flying in Alaska is beautiful. It is 40 minutes from Fairbanks to Anchorage (change planes), 123 minutes from Anchorage to Juneau, 25 minutes from Juneau to Petersburg, 10 minutes from Petersburg to Wrangell and 23 minutes from Wrangell to Ketchikan.  From Anchorage to Juneau we flew at 34,000 feet, Juneau to Petersburg at 20,000 feet, Petersburg to Wrangell at a lofty 5,000 feet and Wrangell to Ketchikan we flew at 18,00 feet.  We had incredible weather both ways, and the panorama was well worth the time, even though it was spent mostly on the ground turning the 737-400 at small airports.

We had an awesome trip with incredible weather and enjoyed Ketchikan, the cruise, kayaking and ziplining.  More on all this in upcoming blogs.

On final approach into Ketchikan

The Wrangell airport terminal

Taking off from Wrangell

The airport terminal at Petersburg

Taking off from Petersburg

Mts McKinley and Foraker