Ketchikan was our first stop where we would disembark. We chose to stay at The Best Western Landing right across from the ferry terminal and dock which was quite convenient. We just carried or rolled our bags over and across the street. Since we arrived early we were able to stow our luggage until after check in time. It was rainy but we came prepared with appropriate clothing. I booked this trip way in advance and choose where we would stay based on a combination of location, reviews, value, amenities and sometimes the responsiveness of the staff or owner. We were given a lovely and spacious bedroom with comfy beds.
First Some History of Ketchikan
The name comes from the native Tlingit tongue and name Kitschk-hin with unclear meaning. It was the First Incorporated city of Alaska. Ketchikan is touted as “The King Salmon Capitol of the World” and there were plenty of guests at our hotel that were here for the fishing! It’s known for it’s native cultural heritage, all the industry that helped shape it’s development, the infamous red-light district and historical buildings on the boardwalk of Creek Street, tourism, commercial fishing and the Tongass National Forest, and its large amount of annual rainfall. It’s present population is over 8000.
The Best Western Landing Best Western “The Landing” provided a shuttle van as part of their service within the city limits and when we weren’t hoofing it ourselves or were tired we could call for shuttle pick up. We got very familiar with John Walker and Kayla our usual drivers. John is native Haida, a historical character in and of himself, a wealth of knowledge and an expert guide. When he smiles the twinkle in his eye is evident. It was raining but we were comfortable and dry.
We headed first to the board walk and Creek Street with it’s lovely old buildings and the picturesque bridge. We road the Funicular cable car up to Cape Fox at a cost of $5. The views of the city are great from up there but seemed to be only visible from inside the lodge. We returned to downtown to the Visitor Area and the statue called “the Rock”. This sure is a beautiful sculpture! My those cruise ships are huge. The shops around the cruise ships open and close by cruise ship arrival and leaving. Most of these shops, I am told, are owned by the cruise ships but The Tongess and other locally owned shops are open. We were told that the ferries pay $35k to tie up each time so both benefit. The over commercialized nature of Ketchikan is not for everyone or for those locals who have lived there all their lives but Ketchikan keeps adapting in order to survive as a viable city.
Cruise Ships Terminal, Visitor’s Center Downtown
We did not travel this way but these were impressive ships and they brought in lots of tourists.
Creek Street, Boardwalk and Bridge Views
Cape Fox Funicular, Views and Totem Poles (6-12′ Council of the Clans)
While making a small purchase my credit card was declined. I called my bank and found out there was fraudulent activity and they had frozen the card. I was pretty upset as that was the main CC I had planned to use but I had an alternative funding source. I was irritated but decided I would be able to continue the trip regardless. At the nearby Visitor Center we asked for recommendations for places that might have good beer. They recommended a walk through the “tunnel” to visit “The Asylum”. There was a great sign advertising Alaskan beer and we stopped to take a photograph when a couple of gentlemen walking to the same place offered to take a picture of the two of this which was even better. These two gentlemen are Mike del Rey & Terry Chandler also bought us beers at the Asylum. We settled ourselves at the bar. What a fun and eclectic place this is and Kristopher Robin was cute too.
Mike del Rey and Terry Chandler who we met at “The Asylum” are tour sales and sales manager with Spirit of Alaska Tours and in talking with them were able to arrange for us to get on a floatplane bound for bear viewing in Polk Inlet on Prince of Wales Island in the morning with SeaWind Aviation. Lesley would contact us and her husband Steve Kamm is the pilot. We would be picked up at our hotel. While looking for my CC and such to book this I discovered my holder with my Photo ID/DL; major Credit Card, Car Insurance and Health Insurance ids were missing.
We headed back to town through the tunnel and ran into locals, Ole & Duangnate “Nate”, who invited us to come up to their hill top home for nice views of the downtown area. These two neighborly folks were kind and supportive and told us where the nearby police station was to report the loss. We ran into helpful people throughout our visit to Ketchikan. Took time to go through all possible places my id could be in my backpack and in my pockets but it was not found. After we visited awhile with Ole and Nate we walked down to the Police Department which was next to the DOL/DMV. As it was Sunday only the police department was staffed. I left my name and phone # in case the ID was turned in. We continued on to the Visitor Center and Cruise Ship dock area where I figured the loss occurred but everything was closed up and the boats had all left port. I would go ahead with the tour in the morning and return to the search/hunt on the next afternoon. I had a secondary funding means with my atm. It was an unpleasant situation but I tried to stay calm.
After returning from the bear tour I was able to call WA state DOL and get them to email my photo id as an attachment. The hotel was able to print out my attachment which I used to be able to re board and continue our travels. I also was able to take a screen shot of my photo id with my smart phone which was helpful. I followed the same process to obtain email attachments of my car insurance and health insurance especially as I was renting a car at our next stop in Juneau. All worked out with the support and aid of Ketchikan residents and Best Western Landing staff. We experienced the warmth and kindness of local Ketchikan residents.
The next afternoon I went to the Visitors Center to check if my id had been turned in but nothing had been. I was pretty concerned about identity theft but the CC was securely frozen and all I could do was try to put it out of my mind.
Guess what was waiting for me in the mail when I returned back to home? An envelope from the Ketchikan Visitor’s Center with my ID holder with all intact!!!! Evidently there was a good samaritan who had later found it and turned it in. I will still follow through with reporting the fraudulent activity and the loss on major credit card companies such as Equifax or Experian.
Did I enjoy my visit to Ketchikan? Yes, indeed. There was lots to see and do despite my mishap! This is truly a unique place with incredible history. See Part II soon to come with Saxman Tlingit Indian Village, Totem Heritage Heritage Center, Harbor and Marina scenics and some .