May 29, 2007
Third day and Ketchikan Day. We were awakened by the ringing of the telephone quite early. When I answered the phone, the voice on the other end was apologetic for serving our room-service breakfast earlier than requested. I was not aware how early it was until I checked my watch and saw it was a quarter to six. A quarter to six!!!! Who wakes up at quarter to six on their holiday? Well, apparently, the boat is docked in Ketchikan already and the crew is ready to see us off. We did manage to take our time with breakfast and left for shore at about 7 am. We were quite surprised to find out it was drizzling outside, which made us to return to our cabin for the umbrella we purposely brought for just this purpose. My first impression of Ketchikan is quite good. I mean I am fond of these preserved little towns. This one however is so picturesque. It sits by the coast and has a snow-peaked mountain range as a background. Everywhere you look is green, must be from all the “liquid sunshine” they are getting. Apparently, they own the title of the rainiest town in US.
Ketchikan is known for two things: the very first town in Alaska and SALMON CAPITAL.
After disembarking, we found the visitors center a few feet from the plank, so we had to sign up for the tour we most wanted for the price we were willing to pay. We found the NORTHERN TOURS, which included some nature walks (albeit very short), eagle sightings and possible bear sightings as well, but most importantly it included the Totem Pole Park.
We were first driven around the small town with the van driver doubling as the tour guide and narrator. He pointed out the schools, the salmon hatcheries and packing place, the creek where they spawn (we were a couple of weeks early to experience any salmon-related activities). He proceeded to drive away from the town proper and stopped by the road and pointed at a tree where a large bald eagle was sitting atop a tree across from the branch where his nest sits. We were all thrilled to spot an eagle, except for this middle aged guy who says he is from Oregon and claimed to see a lot of bald eagle where he came from. The rest of the group went down and clicked to our hearts content. The group consisted of an Asian couple with their two young children, one is about 2 or 3 years old and the younger is about 6 or 7 months old, the Oregon man, a nice kissing couple, who keeps sucking face every chance they get, and an elderly couple from New Zealand and who belongs to the Ryndam Holland ship that is docked next to ours on the shore and of course my husband and I. We later found out that bald eagles really thrive here, probably from all the salmon available to them, as we spotted quite a few of them in a very short time.
We drove along the coast and the driver Josh pointed out points of interests and other sidelights. His laugh was infectious and the wonderful lady from NZ said so too. We were then shown RAINBOW FALLS, which is located along the road. It was a nice little stop by the road. We took photos and it was raining nonstop now. Not too heavy but not light to be considered a drizzle, although Josh did point out that to Ketchikan residents this is a drizzle. After all the photos were taken and obviously Josh was following his schedules to the letter, we were ushered in the van for our next stop, which was a place where the possibility of bear sighting is at its highest. No luck today, although we did sighted another eagle, which was still a baby under 5 years, per Josh, because only eagles over five years develop the white feathers in their head, ergo bald. The nature part of this tour continues with a stop alongside the coast where a small patch of a rainforest sampling was found. Here Josh pointed out the five different types of trees found in Ketchikan; I managed to remember one – red alder. He continued his lecture on the leaves found here that the Native Americans who inhabit this island used for native remedy. Here also we were shown the two eagles nests high atop two trees across the road where we were all gawking at trees and posing by them. Apparently, bald eagles live about 50 years and they mate with one mate for life and nest at the same nest forever. We were told one of those nests was roughly 100 years old. The eagles pass the nest to the next generation, because apparently eagles are lazy nest builders.
The totem pole park was the next stop. Here we lingered a bit longer. Will research more on this park and will probably add it to my blog. The park boasts of totem poles signifying different occasions. It was a good photo op. Here also, we were shown carvers at work on another totem pole.
The tour winded down to another tour of the downtown area passing by Creek Street (in the old days was red light district) where Dolly’s House, a famous bordello is lovingly preserved for tourism. Creek Street is named because it is alongside the creek and the houses are on stilts. This area is very charming. When turning your back on Creek Street, you will be face to face with the coast and all the cruise ships docked there, there were four including ours today. Either way, it is a very pretty.
When the tour concluded (it was the $40 dollar tour), we still had two hours to browse and shop. We entered a few shops, checked the Creek Street on foot and browsed some more, got a triple Americano to go, sampled reindeer meat and smoked salmon, and bought some too, managed to shop pasalubongs to family and bosses, and even snagged a deal of 19.99 jacket (reversible, water resistant) with Ketchikan embroidered on its chest portion.
With 30 minutes to spare, we decided to embark, much to hubby’s dismay. He wanted to get as much as Ketchikan as allowed. We did stay aboard and went up to the deck to get some more shooting and footage. I can only imagine how glorious it would be to spend a couple of days here in the summer time, when there is less rain. We did not even have time to see the glacier. Not enough time for any one to do that.
It was lunchtime and we thought SEVEN SEAS sounded a good idea. Apparently, a lot of our shipmates thought the same thing. There was a line outside the restaurant when we got to level 5. The line went fast and we got seated a seat away from the window. We could never get a window seat, sigh. Like yesterday, the service was excellent and the food terrific. I had fried calamari for appetizers, blueberry soup for the second course, and skewered mahi-mahi for my main course with yummy basic chocolate ice cream for desserts. Hubby had some sort of fruit for appetizers, a corn chowder sort of soup, the Indian dish for entrée and warm apple cobbler for desserts. I enjoyed the lazy eating at this restaurant. The couple in the next table, a mother and daughter, were very friendly. The daughter was taking her mother to this cruise for her 91st b/day, which was last February. The woman was very friendly and chatted with us all through lunch. They are from Vancouver and we hit her up for some tips on what to do in Vancouver in such a short time. She did give us some helpful hints. She also shared with us her fondness for San Francisco, which she has visited many times. Lunch was over and we both decided that a nap was in order. Hubby did get his nap. I was there in bed feeling a bit under the weather with my stomach upset probably from all the pills I took after lunch. I stayed in bed watching TV part of the time and the other half just trying to get some sleep.
Not too long after, naptime was over and we decided to eat. What else is there to do? The weather has not cleared and it still rains constantly. We had some teacakes and sandwiches that accompanied our tea. This is the second day we did the teatime. It is not bad really.
By 5:30, it was tapas time again. While their selection varies very little from day to day, we enjoy not only the food, but also the atmosphere. There are two Filipinas working here, one is taking care of the food from that side of the bar, and the other one is the server; her name is Lovely. It is a quiet place and we simply love the ambience and the down time it gives us.
At 7:30, we caught the comedy show at the Stardust Lounge by a comedian from San Francisco. It was a lot of laughs. We made reservation at Pacific Heights for dinner at 8:30, but there were no tables available at that time. We were asked to return in 10 minutes; we came back after 20 and still no tables by the windows were available. At 9:00, we were seated by the window. I had some fruit medley with a little bit of ricotta cheese for appetizer; hubby had the mussels. I had pizza, hubby had the perch for main course and I had the poached pear for desserts and hubbyhad the coconut pavlova, which is simply a scoop of vanilla ice cream sitting atop a meringue with sauce of something with grand marnier. It was a good dinner.
The day as a whole was a good one. Tomorrow we dock in Juneau. We were told not to shop in Juneau, as there are better selections and lower prices in Skagway, not to mention, our time in the latter is far longer than the former. It is 12:00 in a couple of minutes and again hubby is snoring to his nose’s content for over an hour. I will probably find a difficult time catching some sleep; the boat is constantly rocking. Not really strong, but it does give me a headache. Well, hoping that the day is better weather-wise tomorrow. That’s all for now.