Alaska: Ketchikan and Salmon

Fri. Sept 7th:  Woke to banging and rumbling of the metal dividers between balconies. Windy and raining, seas rough. Barely able to see land through the mist. Not raining hard, just thick and foggy, like we are moving through a cloud. We docked in Ketchikan around 10 am. Me and Joe decided to just walk around the town. We did not want to be confined to a bus for another excursion. Once we were outside walking along the main street in town, we ran into JR and Jackie who joined us. Ketchikan, a pretty good size city that sits on the edge of Tongass National Forest,  calls itself the Salmon Capital of the world and after our long walk uphill to a local park we have no doubt. It was a little damp but still a great day to be outdoors. We crossed several streams and were able to see hundreds of King salmon writhing below us, jockeying for space, all trying to get a little further upstream. As we continued uphill following Ketchikan Creek we noticed there were many dead fish, lying on rocks or floating on the current, in various stages of decay. UGGHH!! We assumed that they died after spawning, their life cycles complete. At the top of the hill we rested at the park and saw even more salmon. We stopped at a fishery where there were big tanks of fingerlings and other fish. Inside the building we saw lots of displays and old photos, and read about Ketchikan, salmon and gold.

Ketchikan; [top r- clockwise] crossing Ketchikan Creek, steps to city park, Front St. tunnel, hundreds of King salmon swimming upstream, view  of Ketchikan Creek from foot bridge

We headed back down hill to the main road through town and had lunch at the Crab Cracker a nice place that specialized in crabs and seafood, of course. I had clam chowder and coconut shrimp, Joe had shrimp and fries, Jackie had chowder and fish Quesada and JR had crab bisque and fish wraps. JR and Jackie headed off in another direction and we continued toward the harbor.

Time Bandit from TV show Deadliest Catch

As we were walking along the pier, I saw a small fishing boat with words “Time Bandit” on the back. I asked Joe if two boats could have the same name. He said he didn’t think so. I said, well that boat says Time Bandit. And so it was. We walked over to it and I took some photos of the famous fishing boat from the Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, a reality show about crab fishing in the Bering Sea, the body of water that separates the US from Russia. The Time Bandit is operated by the Hillstrand brothers, Jonathan and Andy and since there was a light on below deck and there was a motorcycle parked just outside on the dock, we surmised that one of the brothers was probably inside.  I haven’t watched the show in a few years, but I do remember this boat and apparently TV makes things look much bigger, because I was amazed at how small the boat was, and how crowded the deck looked with crab cages and nets and all manner of equipment needed to catch Alaskan King Crab, stacked and secured on every inch of the deck.

Rita & Ron Hopper at Potlatch Totem Park

While we were doing our thing, the Hoppers and Gloria took a tour bus to Potlatch Totem Park  about 10 miles outside Ketchikan, where they visited the museum of Tlingit Native art. There were large and small totem poles on display. They also toured a display of classic and antique cars.  Rita said that several passengers on the bus recognized her from the stage the night before and one asked if she was a “plant”. She assured them that she was not and proceeded to tell them that she thought she knew how Jeff did his trick with her ring. All slight-of-hand and directing the audience to see only what he wants them to see. Smart lady.

Back on board by 4 pm. We all had to get ready for another Gala night. With dinner reservations at the Pinnacle for 5 pm we had to hustle.  Once we were seated, we relaxed. We had the same waiters and another excellent five course meal. Joe and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with dinner.

We stopped at the Casino after dinner. JR had won some money the night before and Joe wanted to see if he’d have better luck on the slot machines. But when we got there, we learned they could not open until we were in International waters. We had to wait at least 15 minutes. So we browsed the shops for a bit. Back at the casino Joe and I started out with $20 on a penny slot machine. We each took turns, winning, losing, winning and losing until we had nothing left. We moved to a different venue, added $10 dollars to our card and did the same, but this time when Joe hit the jackpot with a grand total of $34 and some change to the good, we cashed out. Our net win was a little over $4. We left JR and Jackie to their winning streak, which we would hear about the next day, and went back to our room to change. We spent the rest of the night walking the deck, enjoying the cool night and each other.

Rita and Ron and Gloria had a great night also. They went to the variety show put on by the crew of the Noordam at 8 pm in the Vista Lounge. Later they laughed and said the stars were amateurs and since most of them were from Indonesia, they performed dances and songs from their native culture. Too bad Banyu wasn’t ready to do his stand-up skit.

Read Next Post Sept. 8, Rough Seas and the Inside Passage
Read Previous Post Sept. 6-B, Jeff Peterson and His Magic Dog

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