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Ketchikan – Week 5

You may recall that we got to meet the Columbia’s 3rd Mate, Kyle Estes, when we visited the Longview/Kelso Elks Lodge over Cinco de Mayo weekend.  He told us that he was working on the ship, and offered a bridge tour.  We finally got to take advantage of that tour a few hours before landing in Ketchikan. Kyle is an April 2018 of the Cal Maritime Academy in Vallejo.  He and one of his classmates landed their jobs in October, and he loves it.  The 45-year-old ferry is in outstanding condition with many of the latest technologies on the bridge to maneuver the vessel.  The ship has a full-time pilot on board to deal with some very narrow passageways.

We arrived in Ketchikan about 4pm and headed the 14 miles north to our campsite at Clover Pass.  We tried quite some time to get this campground, and they kept telling us they’re booked for the summer.  Well, May 29th is not the summer, and someone finally booked us a lovely spot on the water overlooking their marina and a beautiful sound.  Our last day here, we came home from town to see 4 bald eagles flying and two humpback whales playing just beyond the marina.

We were still hesitant to take Steph to a hiking area because of the bears, so we walked in town each day.  We found the Arctic Bar, which allows dogs on the deck, and made that our home base, especially because they had fast internet, and the campground’s internet died for our last 4 nights there.  The Arctic Bar doesn’t serve food, but it has a relationship with Burger Queen across the street, and they delivered some really tasty Halibut burgers and, of course, French fries for the dogs.

The town of Ketchikan is really beautiful with 8200 residents.  They have a very long promenade through the town’s tourist area.  Ketchikan is so steep that many of the residents living up the steep hills have staircases, not roads to access their homes.  Reminds me of Filbert Street up from the Embarcadero to Coit Tower – 386 steps as I recall.

We decided not to pull the Traeger out.  Our Coleman is well set up with a burner plate and optional grill plate that works great.  There’s an A&P (Alaska and Proud) supermarket which we visited regularly, and their produce is really good but expensive.  We’ve gone through tons of bottled water, including the girls.  The water here tests high quality, but the campground owners are against using chlorine to brighten the water, so the brownish tint made us all stay away from it.

We had to change our halibut fishing trip here because my neck has been bothering me.  Instead, we landed on day one of King Salmon season!!!  Dan took us out to a spot where we were among 30+ boats in the area.  For those of you dying to know, salmon is done by trolling.  A 12-pound ball is used to haul the herring bait to, in our case, about 65 feet.  Every now and then, Dan would bring up the lines to see if we got nibbles.  We caught 3 salmon too small to keep, and Dave lost one bringing it in.  Then, hour 3:59 of our 4 hour charter, Dave hooked a 22-pound king salmon, a beauty.  Dave figures that, with the charter, fishing license and fish processing, that king salmon cost about $70 a pound, but well worth the adventure.

The dogs were ever so popular.  One day, I forecast 35 pets, only to reach over 100 before I stopped counting.  Everyone from the cruise ships misses their dogs, so mine did their duty being loving and kind.

And finally, the rhododendrons here are massive as is most stuff in Alaska.  They’re everywhere and in colors I’ve never seen before.  

So this morning, we are headed back to the ferry terminal for a 38-hour trip to Bellingham, WA.  The dogs must remain in the RV the entire time, so I’m a little anxious about that.  We will have about every 6 hours to visit them on the car deck.  There will be 2 full nights for them in the RV.  We will visit them every opportunity and hope that they get over their hesitation to pee on the metal deck.  I’m excited about the ferry’s excellent breakfasts AND their amazing Caesar salad and clam chowder.  Jason, the ferry’s amazing chef, told us that the chowder is packaged from Ivor’s in Seattle, so those of you in Seattle must know that Ivor’s chowder is beyond amazing.

One more week of news and then home.  Can’t wait to see y’all!!!




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