A Morning in Ketchikan Alaska

By the time we woke up on Thursday morning, the ship was already docked in Ketchikan. We only had a few hours in port, so we hastily got ready for the day and got off the ship as soon as possible. The ship was required to leave at 11:45 AM, so we wanted to make the most out of our short time in the city.

Ketchikan is a very unique city and I found it to be very beautiful as well. We were told that the city receives rain over 200 days a year, so it was surprising to see the sun while we were there. We also learned that the climate of Ketchikan is actually much warmer than Minnesota’s climate, that it rarely gets below 30 in the winter, and the summers are mild and not nearly as humid. I always thought Alaska would be much colder than Minnesota, but that’s not always the truth.

As soon as we got off the ship, we were once again greeted by several people trying to sell us day trips. Since we only had a limited amount of time in port, we decided to forgo an excursion and play things by ear for the day. My dad had heard about a lumberjack show that was taking place, and really wanted to go. I wasn’t too interested in going because it seemed like a ripoff ($36 for a one hour show… and the show went until 11:45 AM), but I caved when I realized there really weren’t many other options.

We had a few hours to kill before the show, so we walked around the town to see what it was all about. From what I heard, Ketchikan is a fishing village, and is actually the launching point for much of the deep sea fishing that takes place in Alaska. This definitely sounded accurate, as there were tons of boats in the harbor (to go along with the great views and photo ops).

The town itself was pretty cool, and very unique. Much of it was built on a river that ran through the town, and the town definitely had a very distinctly musty smell. This is probably a combination of the river through the town as well as the 200+ days of rain per year!

Those two factors also made for some very green parts of the town. One part of the creek/river running through town was completely covered in bright green algae or moss or something like that. I had to take a few pictures of it in order highlight the awesome green color. While it was sort of ugly in person, the camera really make it look cool!

Another cool sight from the riverwalk surrounding the town was Dolly’s. Dolly’s was a place where men visited when they needed the “comfort” of a woman during the time of the gold rush in Alaska. Put another way, it was a well known haven of “negotiable affection.” In modern terms, it was a whorehouse! My dad really wanted to see Dolly’s, so we went to check it out. It was quite humorous to see the evolution of the Alaskan bunny ranch. The best part were the employment application and gift certificate that were posted in the window. The questions they asked were classic! Here’s a picture of Jimbo in front of Dolly’s.

For the rest of our short time in Ketchikan, we just walked around the town and harbor and waited for the Lumberjack show to start. I also bought a cool bottle opener and my 4th shot glass of the trip (it was only $.99, so I had to do it). I took some more awesome photos, and took advantage of the perfect lighting and slight cloud cover that day. One of my favorites is a picture I took of the reflection of our ship in the water. Gorgeous!

Finally, we went to the Lumberjack show. It was enjoyable, but I don’t think it was worth the price of admission. There was impressive axemanship and some cheesy jokes, and overall it was a fun experience. The highlight was when two guys raced up some gigantic poles and then flew down at about 80 MPH. Pretty impressive!

We made it back to the ship right on time and then shipped off right around noon. That afternoon we ordered room service and hung out on the balcony of our stateroom. It was beautiful outside for a while, so we enjoyed the sun while it lasted. Once the sun went away I did some reading, and finally caved in and used the Internet for the first time on the ship. It was $.5o per minute for a slow connection; what a rip off! I used that time to post some photos to MySpace and throw up the first two days of blogs, and synchronize my email. I would have done more, but the connection was slow and pissing me off.

After I got back from using the Internet, it got nice outside once again, so Jimbo and I headed up to the top of the ship and went to the hot tub. It was refreshing! Several others had the same idea, and the hot tubs quickly filled up. We started talking with a lady in our tub and it turns out she was from Minnesota too! She was actually from the St. Cloud area, specifically Albany. My dad was like “yeah, my uncle was the principal at the high school there… do you know of Ralph Sauer?” She knew him and everything! Small world, and not surprising that the only people in the hot tub were from the frozen tundra of Minnesota.

The rest of the night was pretty routine. I played Black Jack for a little while and ended up losing $30 after being up quite a bit. At that point, I finally decided that I was sick of gambling, and I retired for the rest of the trip. Total winnings was like $600 or something. That was enough to pay for all drinks for the trip, service charges, the train ride, the lumberjack show, etc. and I still left with hundreds more than I came with!

Overnight we switched time zones from Alaska to West coast time. Combine that with a late dinner, and we went to bed pretty early.

Tomorrow is the last full day of the cruise, and we will be arriving in Victoria, BC in the evening. Can’t wait to see Victoria and am getting ready to be done with the cruise and get back home.

View the whole Ketchikan gallery on Facebook

About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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  1. Nice photos…I’ve always wanted to see British Columbia – enjoy that!

  2. Looks like a cool village….something straight out of an old book or something…..

  3. I read your blog everyday about your trip to Alaska. I’ve always wanted to take an Alaskan cruise and now I want to even more. Thanks for the good reading material.