Now that I have been home for a stretch, Ketchikan is starting to seem like something that happened a long time ago.

My favorite thing, hands down, was getting to see salmon spawning for the second time ever. Kelly and I went on a camping trip to Port Alberni with her parents, oh so many years ago. We had fun, and came home with many stories, and even saw bears. I was amazed by the fish, and have always hankered for a second look. So… spawn ahoy!


Ketchikan is pretty. Its riverside boardwalk reminded me a bit of San Antonio, which probably means I haven’t been on a sufficient sample of riverwalks.

My cousins had been keen to see a bald eagle (the caged one was not so exciting) and I was scanning for birds all along. It hadn’t sunk in that this is, on the one hand, an eccentricity of mine–“We have to stop! I heard something peep in that bush!”–and a skill I’ve developed over the years. I was also faintly surprised to learn they don’t have eagles in San Francisco. They’re common here, and I think of our ecosystems as being very similar. Anyway, I spotted this one winging it to a tree, and it was very obliging and pose-y.


The four of us walked upstream to the Ketchikan hatchery, declined to pay for the tour, shot fish from a very stinky beach, and were generally amazed by nature in action. Then we puttered back for another dunk in the hot tub and loafing with books by the ship’s windows, looking for whales. (Did I mention we saw lots of humpbacks, and a few orcas? They were just too far off to make any of my shots great.)

It was around this time that Kelly and I also embarked on making a list of shipboard observations:

–The hot tubs aren’t exactly scorching.
–They mix the drinks strong!
–This does in fact make the comedians funnier, though Merl Hobbs is quite good. Sadly, Merl’s internet presence consists of a poorly put together Myspace page with no video content that I can see, so I cannot prove this to you.
–The ASL interpreters of Merl were even funnier.
–Three and a half turns around the sundeck is a mile.
–They really want to sell you stuff.
–Including pictures! Bands of roaming photographers, some accompanied by people dressed as pirates, orcas, bald eagles, etc. are waiting to pounce on you. The next day, the pics are up in a gallery: $20 for an eight by ten.
–Little girls crushing on my cousin’s supersmart 13 year old, who is living for a September 4th Green Day concert.
–It turns out that Green Day sounds an awful lot like Rush.
–Bingo every day. Trivia quizzes. A spa that threatens to remove 8-10 inches from your body with a seaweedish treatment.
–A very nice and knowledgable naturalist who lets you know whenever there are whales about, and who then reminds you the ship has binoculars for sale.
–A TV in every stateroom with a route map on channel 14 and a live feed from the front of the ship on channel 15.
–Also pay per view. When Kelly was sick we watched Greenberg.
–Pay Per View’s inevitable consequence–Cineloathing: Greenberg was so not worth $9!
–Low ceilings. Long corridors. Towel animals. (Photos to come!) To my surprise, plenty of elevators. Lots of mirrors. Music feeds that loop on a really short cycle, so that we have now heard The Doo Doo Doo by the Police a zillion times in our chosen reading area. On the Lido deck, we had Mamma Mia, much Beatles, and oldies galore.
–A profusion of U.S. accents that make you want to drawl.
–A video arcade whose Aliens game was broken. How sad is that?
–A spectacular floor mosaic leading into the sorta non-denominational chapel.
–Extremely attentive wait staff who really don’t buy into the concept of skipping dessert, and who are obliged to either dance or sing for us after every meal. I couldn’t help feeling it was mean to make the waiters sing and dance.
–A deeply punitive attitude toward the cousin with food allergies.
–Woefully adequate food. Unimpressive decaff espresso.
–OTOH, Tea! Whenever I wanted it. Nice and hot.
–Seeing other cruise ships in the night.
–All the thousand colors of the sea, from deep violet, through the greys, into the blues and greens.
–Orange quarter moon hanging over the ocean, leaving a smeary ochre line on soot-grey water.
–How did I not know that Alaska has its own time zone?
–A briefing on how to successfully get off the ship.
–A magician who taught the kids tricks–a nice guy, who was able to talk the thirteen year old into trying escargot
–A strong tendency to always go with middle of the road as opposed to edge.
–Hideously slow, deeply overpriced, satellite Internet.
–One cold soup offering every night. Lots of iceberg lettuce.
–A rule that ships must stop in one foreign port per cruise–hence the stop in Victoria.

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About Alyx Dellamonica

After twenty-two years in Vancouver, B.C., I've recently moved to Toronto Ontario, where I make my living writing science fiction and fantasy; I also review books and teach writing online at UCLA. I'm a legally married lesbian, a coffee snob, and I wake up at an appallingly early hour.

One Response to Ketchikan

  1. Dylan Bowman says:

    That lucky 13 year old!