Day 3 ~ Ketchikan

Vancouver to Ketchikan    535 Nautical Miles        Speed 14.4 Knots

If Vancouver was considered our first port of call then Ketchikan is our first Alaskan Port of Call.

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It’s still raining. That’s not too surprising because Ketchikan, besides being the “Salmon Capital of the World” is also the Rainfall Capital of the U.S. Ketchikan is located in what is sometimes called the “Banana Belt” of Alaska for it’s mild summer climate if you can tolerate the rain. They even have a Liquid Sunshine Gauge to measure the average rainfall which can reach 152 inches per year.

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Ketchikan is located in the Tongass National Forest, part of a temperate rain forest that extends from Northern California through Southeastern Alaska creating a climate that allows for such majesty as the California Redwoods. Tongass is the earth’s largest  remaining temperate rainforest with over 17 million acres of forest and protected wildlife preserve.

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Ketchikan sits on its own island, Revillagigedo Island. This is such a tiny town it would only take about an hour to explore it on foot. Most of the island is  a steep, craggy wilderness with the town hugging the shore. Most of the streets are built over a complex array of trestles and boardwalks.

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From the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center to Misty Fjords there is so much to see in such a little town and so little time. We will only be in port for about 6 hours.

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Speaking of Misty Fjords, this is a national Monument named for the weather conditions you are likely to encounter but the areas profound beauty has earned it the nickname of “Yosemite of the North”. Accessible only by floatplane or boat  put the cost of this excursion out of our range for this trip. According to the passengers that did go, it was well worth the money spent.

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When in the Salmon capital it’s important to know that there are 5 different Species of wild pacific Salmon. To remember the 5 types of Salmon just raise your hand.

  1. Your thumb rhymes with Chum-Chum Salmon…Chum
  2. Your pointer finger can “sock” someone in the “eye” – sockeye Salmon…sockeye
  3. Your middle finger is the tallest – King Salmon…King
  4. Slip a silver ring on your ring finger – Silver Salmon…silver
  5. And your pinky –  well that’s easy – Pink Salmon…Pink

Ketchikan is sometimes called Alaska’s “First City  ” because  it’s the first major community travelers come to as they journey north.

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Ketchikan was originally a summer fishing camp for the Tlingit (pronounced Kling-it). In 1883 a man by the name of “Snow” opened the first salmon saltery and a fishing town was born. When gold and copper were found in the surrounding mountains a supply center was needed and Ketchikan flourished.

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Creek St, Ketchikan’s downtown section, is said to be the most photographed street in in Alaska! Now lined with shops and art galleries Creek St was once the town’s red light district.

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Ketchikan was the first chance we had to learn about the cost of living in Alaska. Fresh produce is scarce and pricey and milk  can run as much as $6.00 / gal. As we rode in the tour bus along Creek street we spotted a “Burger Queen”. Ketchikan has a Family Dollar or should I say $1.29 store. It lasted as a dollar store about 30 days before the cost of shipping in goods forced a price increase. But the best example was the local Subway where you could enjoy the foot long special for only $9.00. (if you have a local Subway you know that’s a $5.00 ft. long in the lower 48)

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Even souvenirs are not immune. If you are a plus size expect to pay a surcharge of $3.00 per T-Shirt!

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Ketchikan is home to The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show but we decided to explore the culture of the native  Tlingit people with a visit to the Saxman Native Village.

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