Exotic Ketchikan

Exotic Ketchikan

It is a pleasantly cold August morning. The luxury cruise liner berths at Ketchikan –Alaska. Tourists pour out of the ship to make the best of the day to return before the ship hoots for departure. Full well knowing that this is my only chance to experience Ketchikan, I gasp at the unlimited scenery  which melts my heart.

The serene waters of the great Pacific ocean coast in the backdrop of rows of ice covered mountains interspersed with greenery is dotted with fur outlets, restaurants, jewelry shops, Alaskan artifacts and tourist information centres. The setting seems like a crayola coloured format.

History of Ketchikan -Alaska mentions that the scene was totally different some 150 years ago when until the whites arrived each season at Ketchikan to salt salmons. Three native tribes lived and erected totem poles before them. They were the Tlingits, Haidas and Tsimshians. Gradually sawmills, fisheries, cold storage units and sophisticated boats sprouted along the reclaimed land at sea level leading to commercialisation. And the native population declined. Even today ships berth right in the tiny downtown area and land is at a premium.

With cruise ship’s tie up with the locals, the summer season is a beehive of activity at this awesome town which goes into hibernation after September. Days are very long with the sun setting only for a couple of hours in the Alaskan summer giving ample time for tourists to move around.

The locals of Ketchikan make the best of it and shop keepers make brisk business. For sight seeing, tourists are offered the best of Ketchikan and the choice is wide. Just a walking tour to vibe with the locals, observe the carving techniques of totem poles and learn their significance, shop until you drop, taste variety of salmon preparations and sea food, fly around in float planes watching out for bald eagles and other birds. Wild life is all around you, City buses start and stop at interesting locations.

However, the show stopper is the Bering sea crab fisherman’s tour to wonder at the wealth of the sea. The tour lasts about four hours in the comfort of a heated and sheltered stadium-style seating boat. If one can withstand the cold, an open upper deck is all for you. In the award winning Discovery channel series ‘Deadliest catch’ one can see the boat that was used at Bering sea.

That was Aleutian Ballad which miraculously  survived rogue waves. Now the remodelled boat plys in calm protected waters of Ketchican  carrying tourists. The rangers are sharp to draw attention to whales, sea lions, and sharks which frequent visitors on the tour. Marvelling at the scenic beauty that surrounds one can watch skilled crew haul and set long line barrel pots trapping octopus, star fish, baby sharks,  seals, water snakes and huge 700lb king crab pots catching crabs. 

The amazing  marine life is placed in an on-deck aquarium. Everyone can touch and see these unique creatures of the sea and sure enough take pictures to bring back home. Sea wealth is loaded back into the water. Lovely Ketchikan goes to sleep once the summer months are over; nature’s way to protect the beauty from over-exploitation.