Alaska/British Columbia

Ketchikan, Alaska

Tuesday, 7-14-09 Ketchikan, Alaska: had a long morning on our feet in Ketchikan, which we chose to explore on our own. LOTS of tourist shops. A few good art shops. The 1st one we visited was near the ship & away from downtown. Elsie [Gale] (says that website will be up shortly) is a Haida weaver and she weaves on a “gravity” loom in which the warp hangs loose from a top bar and she controls the tension with her weaving. It looks very difficult. The spruce root and cedar basketry is stunning and I wished so much to buy a Haida woven hat but they cost hundreds of dollars.

We walked downtown and went through the SE Alaska Discovery Center [one of the visitor’s centers for the Tongass National Forest], then up along Ketchikan Creek where we stopped to pick up some pebbles and to pet a lovable orange cat on our way to the Totem Heritage Center.

Then shopping at Creek St. over and along Ketchikan Creek – bought coffee and salmonberry jelly and spruce tip jelly and birch syrup at Sam McGee’s for gifts or souvenirs. We also bought a T-shirt for me & a fleece jacket for Sandy.

[I found an old Handwoven Design booklet at Parnassus Books there, too – always happy to support indie bookstores. I’ll have more to say about supporting local businesses in Alaska later.]

The houses & buildings are built up the steep mountainside and on wood pilings over the water.

On the way back, we stopped for salmon chowder and cornbread at Alaska Fish House – so delicious, more like stew – smoked salmon and corn in the cornbread. [In hindsight, my favorite meal, and only one of two “local” meals. I would pay money for that cornbread recipe.]

Saw a salmon spawning and a couple of bald eagles.

back on board – had a few drinks in the Observation Lounge, kicked back in comfy chairs with books. [This became our favorite place on the ship to just hang out, read, play cards, and look out the windows.] Met a fascinating couple from Colombia – Andres and Isabell – environmental scientist and economist. Then around 6:30 pm the ship passed through Snow Pass, a narrow place where we saw several whales from the bow.

hot-tubbing mid-afternoon! [run off by obnoxious LA businessman who talked a lot about stuff he didn’t know about, such as how California was bigger in size than Canada. This is why people like George Bush and Sarah Palin get elected to office. Also talked to a Canadian couple long enough about their health care system to convince me that ours is unnecessarily complicated and expensive.]

Dinner at Four Seasons and early to bed – exhausted and happy.

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