A Lay Day in Ketchikan
|Creek Street is an authentic vestige of old Ketchikan, though its businesses |
are driven entirely by tourism rather than randy prospectors these days
Ketchikan... most of Alaska, for that matter, accommodates transient boaters with a hot-berth system. Fishing boats are out plying their trade a good deal in summer months, and those empty berths are managed by the municipal marinas. My experience was that they do an excellent job, and the fees are quite reasonable (the fees appear to be set state-wide, about $22 for Ripple's thirty foot mooring length).
When we found our way to our assigned berth the night before, we were not sure whether we would stay one night or two. After three weeks on the water, we had some housekeeping to do. Showers, laundry, provisioning, and perhaps even a bit of relaxation. Fairly quickly it became evident that two nights was minimum therapeutic dose.
But that first night we got the shopping done, washed our laundry and ourselves, and went into town for a meal. It was exhausting. The laundromat was only a quarter mile away, and the Safeway a bit further, but schlepping all that to and fro was an effort after 13 hours on the water. Add a couple miles walk into town and back, and my dogs were barking.
Gregg Dietzman, a fellow dockmate, stopped by to chat us up. Hailing from Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, Gregg had admired Ripple as he passed us on the Grenville Channel, and as it happens, I had pointed out his boat, Poplar III, to Mathias, saying how attracted I was to her. Poplar III is a stoutly built wooden motor vessel originally built as the police boat (1949) for Ocean Falls, BC. Gregg has had her for about a decade and has done extensive travelling along the inside passage. She is spacious, upright, and inspires respect.
|Poplar III on Clarence Strait|
|We would see many of these cruise ships again and again over the course of the trip|
I am led to believe that the stores in this tourist district are built and owned by the cruise ship lines: a vertically integrated industry that keeps most of the money out of the local economy. The stores are overwhelmingly of three types: Souvenir shops, eateries, and jewelry shops. It reminds me of the tourist industry in Mexico: tourists and locals alike incarcerated in an economic framework that is designed to funnel money to the few. I cannot say whether Ketchikan is better or worse off for the cruise ship industry, but it certainly is less appealing and less authentic for it.
|People take these signs seriously in these parts|
|The Asylum watering hole: |
it seemed a good deal more sane than the cruise ship district