Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Alaskan Cruise, Day 6 - Ketchikan, Alaska - Thursday, August 10, 2023

 Day 6 on the Norwegian Bliss

Port: Ketchikan
Arrival: 6:30 a.m.
Dock: Historic Ward Cove

Plan for the day

Bob planned a float plane trip for the eleven of us to see bears catching fish in a river. He wants our friends and relatives to experience one of our favorite activities from the Alaskan RV caravan we were on in the summer of 2022.

All aboard: 12:45 p.m.

Weather forecast: Cloudy, 59° F.

Facts about Ketchikan:

  1. Ketchikan is the southeasternmost sizable city in Alaska. With an estimated population of 8,050 in 2010 (within the city limits), it is the fifth most populous city in the state. 
  2. Incorporated: August 25, 1900. It is known as Alaska's Oldest City (per "The Rock" sculpture historic marker on the waterfront and the welcome sign at the entrance to downtown).
  3. Ketchikan bills itself "The Salmon Capital of the World."
  4. The city is named after the creek that runs through town (Ketchikan - we thought about it and decided it could be "catch as catch can" in reference to the fishing industry. Haha.). It is a productive habitat for salmon.
  5. The elevated boardwalk "street" along Ketchikan Creek - now called Creek Street - was Ketchikan's red-light district between 1903 and 1953.
  6. It is located on Revillagigedo Island, called Revilla by the locals. It faces the Inside Passage and is the 12th-largest island in the United States.
  7. The fishing industry has always been important for Ketchikan.
  8. Ketchikan is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. At 17 million acres, the Tongass is the largest National Forest in the United States.
  9. Ketchikan is 679 miles north of Seattle, Washington. That makes it closer to Seattle than Anchorage!
  10. The city has a temperate rainforest climate due to its proximity to Tongass National Forest. The city averages 153 inches of rain annually on an average of 234 days per year. That's almost 13 FEET of rainfall!
  11. When the last cruise ship departs Ketchikan each September, most of the buildings downtown close for winter!
  12. Many of Ketchikan's streets are actually wooden boardwalks/stairways. These have city street names, such as Creek Street.
  13. Ketchikan is home to the highest zip code in the United States: 99950.
  14. Ketchikan is home to the world's largest collection of standing totem poles. Most are located in parks and some can be seen throughout downtown. 
  15. The Alaska Marine Highway is headquartered in Ketchikan.
Our plan today was to take the shuttle bus from the dock at Ward Cove seven miles into town. There, we would take a shuttle to the seaplane office and landing. The rain we encountered was unexpected.

This is inside the new NCL cruise port at Ward Cove.

Susan and Darren Medlin in the Ward Cove
cruise port building.

The complimentary shuttle buses ran frequently and dropped us off at the Berth 4 parking lot a few blocks from where we would board the seaplane. This parking area is adjacent to downtown and is where all the other cruise ships dock. We were about 20 minutes early for our shuttle to the seaplane ride. We wandered a few blocks along the dock while we waited. Here are three photos of the heart of downtown where we waited...

Enlarge the photo to read the history.

"The Rock" sculpture. You can see the Chief 
atop the rock facing the sea. He greeted all
incoming visitors.

Ketchikan rainfall marker.

Our shuttle arrived to transport the 11 of us a half-mile to their office. They have a beautiful space right at the docks. We had a half-hour to take photos, use the restroom, and relax before our flight.

I posed with a stuffed wolf.

Randall and Bob with the wolf and a mountain goat.

Darren Medlin posed with a grizzly bear and an elk.

There was discussion amongst the pilots about whether we could go on the trip today. The clouds dropped down to the water level and became fog. We waited for a decision about today's flights. It was noted that the fog was not in the direction we were going, so they boarded us onto two planes. Susan and Darren Medlin got on a small plane with another couple. The other nine of us boarded a larger plane.

Everyone was able to climb up into the plane, including Bob's mom. We were so excited! Besides Bob and I, no one else had been on a seaplane before. There was some trepidation. We buckled in and put on our headsets. Susan and Darren's flight left the dock first. I was barely able to get a photo of it because of the rain and fog. We were a couple of minutes behind them. They taxied out and we followed.

Susan & Darren were on this plane.

Liz and Kristin inside our plane.

Our pilot. [Photo by Kristin Jost.]

I'm all ready to take off!
[Photo by Kristin Jost.]

Rich Jost [Photo by Kristin Jost.]

Liz, Kristin, Laura (lavender puffy coat),
Bob, Louise, me, Michael. [Photo by
Rich Jost.]

The plane the Medlin's were on.
You can see it cleared up some.
[Photo by Kristin Jost.]

We were taxiing to take off. The pilot came on the headsets and sheepishly said, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but a fuel filter light just came on. It takes two fuel filters to fly this plane. I'm sorry, but we have to cancel our flight today. Because we are not going out, the other plane is not going out either."

Oh, man, you could hear the disappointment in everyone's voices. However, safety always comes first! We certainly did not wish to end up in the drink!

Back to the dock we went, and then deplaned. Sigh, so much for today's grand adventure. All of us from our plane lined up for a photo shoot to show we really did try to go.

Bob, Randall, Laura, Kristin, Michael, me, 
Louise, Rich, and Liz. [Photo by staff person.]
Boat dock nearby. [Photo by Rich Jost.]

A cute seaplane planter on the deck. 
[Photo by Rich Jost.]

Saying goodbye to our seaplane.
[Photo by Kristin Jost.]

Okay, so what do we do with the rest of our morning? All of us walked toward Creek Street and the river. Susan & Darren Medlin and I decided to do a 5 km walk around downtown. Everyone else wanted to see the Ketchikan River and Creek Street. We split up at the river.

Sourdough Bar and Liquor Store.
I love the small boat on the roof!

Bob and his mom Louise at
Ketchikan Creek.

History of a flood here.

Four other cruise ships were at the dock in town.
You can see how crowded it is!

A historical red-light-district home.

Creek Street on the Ketchikan River. 
You can watch the salmon swim through here.

Red-light-district history.

Red-light-district history.

Susan, Darren, and I continued up the creek, climbing a few stairs along the way. Salmon were returning to spawn. 

You, too, can become an expert on the five
types of salmon.

We were headed to the Totem Heritage Center, but Susan decided she wanted to head back to the ship. No problem. I have done the walk here before and Bob and I went to the museum in 2018. Susan and Darren stopped in downtown to buy a few items for the ship. 

I continued walking back to the shuttle stop. Along the way, I found my son Michael waiting on a bench so we walked to the shuttle stop together.

This mural spanned the length of a fence.

Michael is on the dock.

At the Berth 4 shuttle stop, there were historic markers about downtown. You can enlarge these photos to read the signs.

We all made it back to historic Ward Cove and the ship with time to spare. I took photos of the artistic bow of the ship.

Michael and I are getting our photos with
the moose and bear family. [Photo by Darren Medlin.]
Ocean art on the bow is by Wyland.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (Bliss)

NCL Bliss.

Once back on board, it was time for lunch. We spent the afternoon relaxing. 

At 8:30 p.m., we spent the evening at The Cavern Club listening to the Beatles cover band from Argentina. So much fun!

The Beatles Experience: Abbey Road.

Bob and my son Michael.

Cheers from me and Bob!

We will spend all night and all day tomorrow getting to Victoria, British Columbia, our last port of call before we debark in Seattle on Saturday! Unfortunately, our time in Victoria is very limited.

TravelBug over and out.

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