Ketchikan – Alaska Cruise 2017 – Part 1

This post documents our September 14, 2017, visit to Ketchikan, Alaska, a long-delayed continuation of my documentation of our 2017 Alaska Cruise. Current and previous posts relating to this cruise are HERE(link).

There’s a gallery at the end of each post and a SmugMug gallery HERE(link). Photos in SmugMug can be viewed full-size. Note that the SmugMug gallery will eventually contain all the photos from Ketchikan; those from this post (Part 1) and those from other Ketchikan posts.

You can click on the photos in the body of this post to see a larger-but-less-than-full-size-version. If there’s a panorama, I’ll link the full-size files but be warned . . . they’re typically huge. Huger than people have ever seen before. Don’t click on those links unless you’re enjoying a biggly Interweb connection. Also, if you have biggly Interweb but you’re reading this on a phone — which is sad; VERY SAD — I wouldn’t bother with the full-size photos because they are HUGE; huger than anyone else’s huge photos. 

Ketchikan welcome sign

September 14, 2017, had me shoot around 350 photos (201 P900 photos, 99 D7000 photos, and 147 Note II photos, but most of the Note II photos were three-shot HDR series, so probably around 50 photos) and about 20 videos.  Of those photos, the ones I think are of interest are posted below.

I should probably do a brief introduction . . . 

First off, here’s the Princess Patter(link) for the 14th of September of 2017. 

Here’s a map of the whole area . . . Juneau is roughly in the middle of nowhere . . . and it’s 350 miles from there to get to Ketchikan via a combination of car and ferry travel. Click the picture below for a much larger version (2.2MB).

This is the Ketchikan Port Guide(link) (note: the file is 4MB) describing the attractions of the area and what little other information a visitor might find useful along with a rudimentary map.

Right, that be enough background stuff to bore even the staunchest readers to tears. Many — I’m sure — have already tuned out and left. 

As before, most of these photos are from the Nikon P900 and the Samsung Note II. There are five D7000 photos in this post. Keep that in mind in case you’re considering whether using a point-and-shoot camera suffices to document your travels. Still, I’ll caution that while the P900 photos are sufficient for documenting travel sights, they are less-than-optimal for pixel-peeping and I suspect prints from these files would be limited to nothing larger than an 8×10 (if even).

~ ~ ~ ~ here we go ~ ~ ~ ~

Of course, we had been to Ketchikan before and many of the sights were documented back in 2012 in these POSTS(link). That means these are mostly random photos as we meandered around the place. Those previous posts are worth reading because they include a great airplane excursion. On this trip, no excursions for us.

We begin with foreshadowing . . .

Balloons hanging from ceiling of cruise ship main atriumBalloons hanging from ceiling of cruise ship main atrium

The morning of the 14th — on our way to the International Café — we noticed the preparation for the upcoming ‘sailing home’ celebration. I thought it was worth a couple of photos.

Then, our lattes in hand, we headed to the upper decks for a ship’s view of Ketchikan.

Dwyer's Crab and Fish company building in Ketchikan, AlaskaTongas Trading Company shop in Ketchikan Alaska

The place was as we remembered it . . . the waterfront is mostly jewelry and souvenir stores, and this being early enough, few people were milling about. As there were three cruise ships docked, this would quickly change, but for now, the place looked as I like places to look . . . with as few people as possible.

Here, I’m switching to the Note II HDR photos (bracketed exposures photos snapped with the Note II and the Open Camera app and combined using Aurora HDR 2019).

Tongas Trading Company shop in Ketchikan AlaskaKetchikan, Alaska, waterfront shopsKetchikan, Alaska, waterfront shops

I still think the Note II had a dang-fine camera, but that’s neither here nor there as so does the Note 8.

The lower right corner of the last photo has the statues I had previously photographed (see those older posts I mentioned). The P900 was able to ‘reach out’ and bring them closer.

statues in Ketchikan waterfront boardwalk

Yes, there will be more photos of the statues later on. For now, let me continue with my tour of the upper decks and the views therefrom . . .

View of Ketchikan from the deck of the cruise ship Coral Princess

A lone person was enjoying the company of the morning sun on a near-empty deck (most people were stuffing their faces at the breakfast buffet).

This is where my memory serves me poorly . . . there’s obviously a ship aft of the Coral Princess (the above photo), and this photo shows two other ships anchored afore . . . 

View of other cruise ships in Ketchikan from the deck of the cruise ship Coral Princess

That means all four berths were in use, but, above, I mentioned three ships, including ours. I’m now as curious as readers to see what the subsequent photos show. If there were four, it speaks to an uncharacteristic unawareness of my surroundings . . . I mean, how do you not notice a whole extra cruise ship?

Old age and faulty memories suck, and I suspect those two facts of life are the source of many arguments between people who each swear their version of reality is accurate and the other person is wrong. Meaning, we should temper our propensity for certainty. That’s something I’ve worked hard on doing in recent years.

How do you do that? You concede you might be remembering wrong while privately thinking the other person is wrong. That way, if it does turn out you were wrong, it’s difficult for anyone to throw it in your face and you can even convince yourself that you thought all along that might have been the case.

Just to be clear, I’m not arguing with anyone as to how many ships there were . . . just with myself because I absolutely remembered the two in front of us, but not until the photo above did I say “Hey! There’s a whole other ship out there!”

By the way, here’s another Note II photo toward the front of the ship . . .

View of other cruise ships in Ketchikan from the deck of the cruise ship Coral Princess

And, look at that! . . . I took a shadow-selfie! Good on me, no?

I used this next photo in one of my reminder posts (but heavily processed, of course) . . .

The Coral Princess distinctive jet-engine-like smokestack

As much as it looks like a jet engine, it’s one of the two smokestacks (if one can even use ‘stack’ to describe them) of the Coral Princess.

The port side offered views of the bay or channel. By the way, for them wanting to learn nautical terms, click HERE(link).

Ketchikan water view

You know what’s coming, right? That’s right . . . P900 zoom prowess demonstration. Here’s the point that was visible in the previous photo

Ketchikan water view

. . . let’s zoom in on the house . . .

waterfront home

And, yes, that was a ferry making it’s way somewhere . . .

Lituya Ferry

. . . the Lituya Ferry(link) . . .

I’d mainly use the D7500 now, but during this trip, the P900 comported itself well and I have to admit to the convenience of the zoom range.

View of other cruise ships in Ketchikan from the deck of the cruise ship Coral PrincessView of other cruise ships in Ketchikan from the deck of the cruise ship Coral PrincessView of other cruise ships in Ketchikan from the deck of the cruise ship Coral Princess

Anyway, our coffees consumed, it was time to disembark and stroll around the place. Melisa went to do a bit of shopping and I went to visit some old friends. And, as one often does with old friends, I snapped some photos . . . first with the Note II . . .

statues in Ketchikan waterfront boardwalkstatues in Ketchikan waterfront boardwalkstatues in Ketchikan waterfront boardwalk

. . . and then with the P900 . . .

I should mention that during the 2012 cruise, I visited these then new-friends much earlier and caught the morning sun. That made the photos more interesting than these, but these are still, I think, pretty good.

Here’s a map of Ketchikan . . . we walked around trying to hit all the shaded areas. I don’t know that we did, but it felt like we covered a lot of ground.

Ketchikan, AK, map

I wish I could tell you stories about our adventures while exploring Ketchikan, but they would be made-up stories because we just walked around enjoying the sights, looked into the occasional shop, and I snapped photos of whatever caught my eye.

Sometimes with the P900 . . .

A photo of boats in the Ketchikan marinaA rusted-out seawallA small evergreen tree growing in the cracks of the seafront boardwalk

. . . and sometimes with the phone . . .

A photo of boats in the Ketchikan marina and a small boardwalkA photo of Holland America Line Eurodam ship

Ah . . . the ship aft of the Coral Princess . . . an odd name it has, and I wonder what Holland America Line has against Europeans because they named the ship Eurodam(link).

Anyway, I continued snapping photos of interest . . . like . . .

Photo of a street scene in Ketchikan

So, what’s interesting in this photo?

. . . well, a guy hitting on a girl, a green bus, and a native-looking person saluting the morning sun . . . or, maybe, he just swings his arms really high as he walks.

This next photo shows Honda motors and their offspring catching some rays . . .

three boats with their outboard motors lifted out of the water

I mentioned shops . . . we don’t go into jewelry stores, but we often visit souvenir shops. Now, what gets me about shops in ports of call is this . . . people come from ships which are basically giant food supply-and-delivery systems, get off said ships, and stop in places to buy food.

. . . if we get hungry, we go back to the ship and eat.

Anyway, we walked around a bit and saw something new . . . the Ketchikan Fire Station . . .

Ketchikan fire department station

Oops . . . poor post-processing on my part; the lower right intrusion of a car’s headlight should have been cropped out. I’m too lazy to go and reprocess the photo, so readers will just have to suffer through it. Also, as far as ‘new’, I mean new to us. We hadn’t walked in that section of the town before.

While walking about, we made it a point to visit Creek Street. Here are two links for them interested in reading stuff: LINK1 and LINK2.

For them not prone to click on links, Creek Street consists of a bunch of buildings (now mostly shops) built on stilts over Ketchikan Creek. It was built that way because it was easier than blasting away the rockface. So, basically, it’s a boardwalk following the path of the creek and it’s lined with buildings. A photo like this one can be seen in the links, but here’s my version . . .

a view along Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska

Just before you get to the shops and salmon-viewing area, sits this totem pole (this is a mix of Note II and P900 photos) . . .

. . . and also this bench . . .

A woodden bench with the shape of a salmon for the back support

I don’t know much about the fishy bench, but since there are others like it around Ketchikan, I assume it’s something either shops or the city drop here and there for the convenience of weary travelers.

The totem pole, on the other hand, has a history (the following is an excerpt from one of the links):
The Chief Johnson Totem Pole carved by Israel Shotridge stands 55 ft. tall at the entrance of Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska. This replica of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole – which originally stood from 1901 to 1982 at the center of the community at the mouth of Ketchikan Creek – was raised on October 7, 1989, to reinstate the native people’s claim to the land of their ancestors. The Chief Johnson Totem Pole tells the legend of Fog Woman and the creation of the Salmon.

Now, this is one of them times when my propensity to ‘just discover’ — as opposed to ‘research the crap out of places I plan to visit’ — kind of let me down. While I got some of the totems within the town (LINK) . . .

The Raven Stealing the Sun totem pole in front of the Ketchikan LibraryThundering Wings of Eagle totem in Ketchikan, AlaskaThundering Wings of Eagle totem in Ketchikan, Alaska

I missed a few others. More than that, I missed the opportunity to see stuff not in town but accessible by bus or shuttle (LINK).

By the way, also from one of the links I provided:
Located at the entrance to the famous tunnel, alongside Cruise Ship Dock 3, is a gorgeous, stylistic Eagle totem pole that was carved by Nathan Jackson of Ketchikan. The name “Ketchikan” is believed to come from the Tlingit word “Kitschk-Hin” which means “thundering wings of an Eagle”.

You can read a bit more about native totem pole art in this LINK.

Anyway, missing opportunities wouldn’t normally bother me much because the plan was to do more Alaska cruises, so missed opportunities (like Skagway and the White Pass Railway) are things we would look forward to for our next visit. But now . . .

. . . now the cruise lines have an almost impossible task of convincing me they are capable of keeping their passengers safe (they have a poor track record with the flu and COVID-19 is more pernicious).

So, unless we decide to drive up there (still a consideration), we may never get to visit these places again. But, never is a long time; we’ll see what the future brings.

This is getting a bit long . . . I should maybe wrap this up lest some people get tired and stop reading.

Wait . . . they’re not the ones I’m writing for. Besides, they can always read the post in multiple sessions. Pressing on for a bit longer.

But, back to Creek Street, its history is a bit interesting (again from the links) . . .
Creek Street is a historic boardwalk perched on pilings along the banks of Ketchikan Creek in Ketchikan, Alaska. A former Red Light District where both men and salmon swam upstream to spawn. It is now a quaint place to tour Dolly’s House museum, view totem poles, shop at locally-owned stores and galleries, enjoy local art and culture. In the summer months, salmon gather by the thousands to spawn upstream; seals and otters are never far away with eagles perched in the trees above.

From the same link, a description of Married Man’s Trail (now a continuation of Creek Street) . . .
During the heyday of Dolly Arthur and the other sporting women of Ketchikan’s infamous Creek Street, police raids on the brothels were frequent. Spouses looking for a quick exit to avoid hefty fines for being caught at one of the brothels found the Married Man’s Trail to be the perfect escape route. The Married Man’s Trail heads upward, winding through the trees and providing scenic views of the town and harbor below.

Here’s the description from one of the other links I provided:
The History of Creek Street can be summed up by fishermen, bootleggers, & prostitutes, oh my! Creek Street is known as Ketchikan’s old red-light district. In the mid 1920’s there were over 20 bawdy houses on Creek Street alone! In fact, Creek Street was once home to Ketchikan’s #1 industry – prostitution. The prostitutes or ‘working women’ were frequented by men looking for a little company and some liquor.

During prohibition, Creek Street was the place to go for a drink as bootleggers would smuggle in Canadian whiskey to supply the houses of prostitution and backroom saloons. Creek Street Ketchikan is built over the water and the bootleggers would simply wait until high tide and would row their rowboats right up the stream to deliver their goods in the cloak of darkness. Most of the houses on Creek Street had hidden ‘trap doors’ underneath the house just to receive delivery!

If you’re walking along Creek Street, do not miss the chance to check out Married Man’s Trail, a staircase & wooden boardwalk extension of Creek Street that ends at Park Avenue. Married Man’s Trail goes over the river and through the woods….but not to grandma’s house! No, Married Man’s Trail was once just a muddy path along the creek that men would use to discreetly visit the working houses along Creek Street instead of being ‘caught’ walking in the front doors!

This is just a taste of what one can read about Ketchikan. Honest, I would probably like living there . . . except for all the cruise ship’s passengers that constantly mill about and crowd local eateries.

To continue, here are a few more photos of the place . . .

. . . salmon swimming . . .

salmon swimming in Ketchikan creeksalmon swimming in Ketchikan creek

. . . views of the creek and farthest observation point (with a statue of a salmon pointing the way) . . .

Ketchikan CreekKetchikan Creek and part of the Creek Street boardwalkThe statue pointing the way to the fish ladder in Ketchikan CreekA seagull waiting for dead salmons to feast onKetchikan Creek observation platform and salmon statueClose-up of the salmon statue on Ketchikan Creek

I have photos of seagulls eating dead fish . . . but, why share them, right?

What about movies?

. . . ask and ye shall receive . . .

So, here’s one of the many planes we saw landing . . .

. . . and another . . .

I have more, but I’ll save them for later posts. Right now, how about salmons swimming in Ketchikan Creek?

We also got a glimpse of a seal swimming up the creek . . . and, yes, he was paddleless. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera ready, so all I managed to film is a literal glimpse.

You know when I said I had photos of seagulls eating dead salmon, but why share them? Well, one reason not to is because I was going to share the video. There are many dead salmon on the rocks along the creek (presumably, from jumping in the wrong place), and the seagulls like eating salmon. Personally, while I like it, salmon gives me gas.

I don’t want to end the post on the above image, so why not go back to the beginning?

balloon net suspended from cruise ship's atrium ceiling

Also, a stylized photo of the ship’s casino (always closed while in port) . . .

Coral Princess Casino as a painting

OK, here’s a random gallery of the above photos. . .

Not sure when Part 2 will go live, but it won’t be too long.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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