Before we move on to the next port, we would like to begin this blog with some additional animated photos from our whale watching expedition in Juneau.
The last port stop on our cruise was in the town of Ketchikan, pop 8,050. Ketchikan is the fourth largest city in Alaska. It was established in 1887 and is Alaska’s southernmost city at the base of the Tongass National Forest.
Situated on Revillagigedo Island, it is separated from mainland Alaska by the Behm Canal. The town was formed when a salmon cannery was built at the mouth of the Ketchikan Creek and claims to be the salmon capital of the world.
It has an average annual rainfall of 156 to 162 inches which makes it the wettest community in North America. We would agree since our day there was chilly and overcast with occasional drizzle.
Ketchikan’s economy relies on fishing, canning, mining, logging, cold-storage operations and of course tourism. The town has a large native culture with the largest concentration of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people in Alaska. This is obvious in the many totem poles in the area. It is believed Ketchikan has the largest number of totem poles in the world.
We had a nice view of this picturesque town from our balcony. We were fascinated by the extremely hilly, steep road in the distance. Very hard to capture on camera just how steep it was.
Instead of taking another excursion, we decided to spend a relaxing day exploring the town. We took a free shuttle bus around the town and then got off a mile from the ship in the touristy area. Here we walked around the Creek Street Historic District, a notorious rowdy part of Ketchikan’s past. This area, with houses built on stilts, was a red-light area of town from 1902 to 1954. Not really a street, it is actually a zigzagging boardwalk of pilings with at least 30 former bawdy houses. During prohibition, bootleggers would smuggle in Canadian whiskey for the bawdy houses and saloons. The bootleggers would wait until high tide and row their rowboats upstream to deliver their goods under cover of night. Most of the houses had hidden trap doors underneath to receive the goods. There was a “Married Man’s Trail” which was a staircase and wooden boardwalk where men could visit the houses without being seen going in the front door.
Today the area has art galleries, gift shops and a museum. Of particular interest was a museum, Dolly’s House, where infamous Madam Dolly Copeland Arthur lived from 1919 to 1970. The “street” was built over water because it was too difficult to blast away the rocky hillside. For this reason much of Ketchikan was built over water. Creek Street is one of the best places to see salmon spawning and swimming upstream.
On our walk back to the ship we found several geocaches and did a little shopping. We stopped at The Rock, a Monument to Ketchikan which is called “The First City”. It is not called that because it was the first city established in Alaska but because it is the first city you reach when coming from the lower 48 states north along the Inside Passage. The seven figures represent the city’s history which includes a fisherman, a miner, a logger, a bush pilot, a frontierswoman and a Native drummer. Chief Johnson, the seventh figure stands atop the rock, who as a Tlingit, represents the fact that his people were the first to make their home in southeast Alaska.
The final day of our cruise was spent at sea as we headed towards our destination of Vancouver, British Columbia. It was a day spent relaxing, eating of course, visiting with Peter and Beth and packing since we had to have our luggage outside our door by midnight.
Today, June 30th was also the fifth anniversary of our living our dream of exploring this beautiful, great country in our RV. When we first started we agreed to give it five years and then evaluate whether we wanted to continue. We not only want to continue, but hope to live this lifestyle for the unforeseeable future, God willing. We have traveled to 46 states (we don’t count a state unless we sleep there) and 22 countries. Of those 46 states the RV has not been to Alaska or Hawaii. Of the 22 countries the RV has been to Canada and Mexico. We hope you have enjoyed reading our 345 blogs and will continue to do so. We always love getting comments!!
July 1st we arrived in Vancouver where we boarded a Holland America bus which took us to Seattle.
We had a wonderful time exploring Alaska, made even better when Peter and Beth joined us. Even though it was a great trip, we were very happy to get back to our house on wheels.
I love reading your blog and seeing all the great photos you have posted. Thanks especially for these Alaska ones, as am still hoping to make it up there one day.