“K” is for “Ketchikan”-Alaska

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Looking for information about Creek Street, my reasearch about this famous location in Ketchikan, Alaska, quickly led me to a sordid history of protitution and bootlegging!  Today, along the banks of Ketchikan Creek, there exists only a quaint collection of historical buildings, boardwalks and wooden palings,  Tourists have replaced the bootleggers and now flock by the thousands to the brightly painted buildings which contain galleries, restaurants and specialty shops.  Some of the earliest buildings date back to 1903.  Back then, this area looked vastly different, containing only a few brothels as well as a shingle mill, a cooperage and several water wheels which used the power of the creek to generate electricity.  From the 1920’s to the 1950’s, prostitution was so popular that the there were 20 bawdy houses in this area alone!


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“B” is for “Brown Bear, Black Bear, Big Bear and Babies”-Alaska

             Brown Bear, Black Bear, Big Bear and Babies

Copy (1) ofDSC_0779While on our vacation in Alaska, I didn’t expect to see the bears. All the reading that I had done said that the bears usually don’t appear until July and August, when the salmon begin to run.  It was early June when we saw the first bear, a Grizzly or brown bear.  They are actually one and the same. She appeared on our first day in Alaska, during a flight seeing tour of the Misty Fjord.  She was large, weighing in around 300 pounds. She had three cubs, which is somewhat unusual for this species.  Although they have been noted to birth as many as six, it is most common that they will have just two cubs at a time. The cubs seemed a good size, so I think they were about a year old.

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A is for Awesome Alaskan Adventures

I’ll admit it, when Alan said that he wanted to take a tour on a float plane, I was more than a bit apprehensive. I don’t like flying at the best of times, so I wondered how different I would feel in a floating tin can. Every time I board an airplane, I marvel at how such large objects defy the laws of gravity, the odds never seem in my favor. My brother is a commercial pilot. I know the rigors of training that he has gone through to be called such. This and the safety statistics are about the only things that bring me comfort as I rationalize the odds of dying on any given flight.   It was Alan’s turn to choose how we would explore by the letter “A” . On each adventure we have an agreement to go along with whatever is chosen by the other. Besides, the buffet on board the cruise ship would be boring on my own! Weeks before this trip, I had extensively researched the various tour companies and the best possible ways to see the monumental, Misty Fjord, near Ketchikan, Alaska.  After extensive research into safety records, I booked our tour with a privately run company called Island Wings. Our pilot, Michelle’s name came up continuously on travel sites and the comments were always favorable. Because of her record, she is one of only a few pilots, given permission to land directly at the remote landmark. Hers was also one of the only tours that would allow us to step off the planes pontoons and on to land, for any period of time.

As was normal for this area, it had just started pouring with rain when our driver Shona, picked us up in front of our predetermined point; the local landmark, better known as the “liquid sunshine rain gauge.” Located in front of the Visitors Center, it stands about twenty feet tall. It was hard to miss but as the drenching rain continued, it became easier to believe that they receive about twelve feet of rain in Ketchikan each year! Alan and I were just thankful to discover that our newly purchased raingear, was in fact waterproof! As we were selecting it, we wanted to make sure we would always be able to find each other in a crowd, so we had chosen matching, bright red jackets.  This was a change from our comfort colors of black or tan.  We hadn’t really considered how many tour operators also have the same idea in mind. The jackets were now acting like beacons on this grey morning.  Maybe that is why we kept being approached by other travelers for directions!  Shona located us quickly, then laughed apologetically as she announced that the plane was actually parked directly in front of our ship, now a mile away! Since this had been the designated meeting point, Alan and I had walked into town to meet her. Passing the three other ships docked on the waterfront, our walk had not been in vain. It gave us time to admire the beautiful flowers along the pier. Then, as we approached a large memorial statue, aptly titled, “The Rock”, we contemplated the seven life sized figures, each reflecting the pilgrimage that was required to settle the great state of Alaska! Soon we would meet the four other people that would join our tour; a pair of teachers from Georgia and a brother and sister from California.

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