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Thursday--Ketchikan

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We only had the morning in Ketchikan, so I was off the ship quite early. Larry and the boys were going ziplining, an activity which I’d as soon do as undergo abdominal surgery without anesthetic. I had been considering a floatplane trip to Misty Fjords, but after hearing about several downed planes and the lousy weather conditions and visibility in the area, I decided to not do so. As it turned out, the sun peeping through the clouds for the first time in weeks would have made for a fabulous day to fly. Ah, well.

Ketchikan is another fishing and cannery town in a beautiful setting. Its old goldrush history is largely reflected in the creekside shanties built on the hillside formerly housing a huge number of whorehouses. Nowadays the money changing hands buys fake diamonds and trashy souvenirs. What is Tanzinite, and why are people buying it?

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The creekside street a short walk from the dock gives some sense of what the area once looked like, with a rushing river below where spawning salmon can be seen. The waterfront is completely given over to cruiseship-owned shops selling junk. I walked up through town,
climbing several staircases that stretch up the hill. There’s an interesting little museum called the Alaska Discovery Center, with exhibits about the land, water, people, and economics of southeastern Alaska. Afterward I popped into a few locally owned shops, looking for Eskimo-made soapstone carvings. I have a few of these, simple little carvings of animals. Most of the ones I saw in town were factory made, but I did find a store owned by a Native owner who had some nicer ones. I eventually bought a little bear, and chatted with the owner for a while. He gave me the names of the only two other Native-owned stores in town, and I spent some more time at a shop owned by a Haida weaver who had some lovely silver jewelry made by her brother. It was interesting talking about the town politics, and the plusses and minuses of so much of the economics and culture of the town being dependent on cruise ships.

Back on the ship, and I met up with Larry and the boys. They said they had a blast ziplining through the rain forest, and their photos were terrifying. Some things it is better that Mom doesn’t witness.

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Spent the afternoon reading and relaxing as we sailed back out to sea past the fantastic coastline, densly forested islands, and distant mountains. This aspect of the cruise I find very enjoyable, just sitting watching for whales and eagles.

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We avoided tonight’s show in favor of watching Obama’s speech at the DNC, and then once again got dressed up for dinner. I’ve learned by now that the soups are reliably quite good, avoid the fish, lamb or steak is excellent and the desserts largely not worth the calories. Speaking of calories—there seems to be yet more food served at 10:30, and tonight was a Chocolate Buffet. Huge displays of cakes and pastries, and people were stuffing themselves as if they hadn’t eaten just hours ago. Amazing.

Comments (5)

I've been wondering what Ketchikan looked like. It sounds like you are having a good time with the family.

"Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite which was discovered in the Meralani (Merelani) Hills of Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha. It is a popular and valuable gemstone when cut." I saw it in a jewelry store in Brazil and it is really pretty!

Zipling is so much fun! I am jealous!

I have always heard of Ketchikan. Enjoyed seeing photos. Don't think I would do ziplining either. (although it looks a little less scary than bungee jumping).

What is up with the food? Everyone always raves about the food on cruises.

Laura Anne:

Tanzanite is one of your little sister's favorite gemstones. Alas, that I didn't think to tell you that before you left!

Sounds like you loved Alaska as much as I did -- but what's the buzz on the Veep politics! *grin*

One day left here in France before I fly home Here's hoping Gustav turns into a dud...

sandrac:

This really sounds like a wonderful trip, Amy! But I wonder if it feels a bit jarring at times, when you contrast the gorgeous, natural places you are visiting and the strange life on board ship (bingo? Elvis impersonators? silly paper hats? late-night chocolate buffets?) Well, actually that last one doesn't sound too bad!

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