Totems and Fish

September 5, 2014

We are working ourselves down the southeast coast of Alaska in mostly cloudy skies. It promises to be a nice day in Ketchikan. This Alaskan city receives as much rain in September and October as Seattle gets all year. To be greeted with sun is a gift.

Upon landing Leslie and Dave set out on adventure in a four man Zodiac boat. Our adventure for the day involved navigating the public transportation system out to Totem Bight State Park on the outskirts of the city. After stopping at the Safeway and Walmart we reached the park. The site contains around a dozen restored and maintained totem poles.

The location was ideal with the totems looking out over the sea. There was a replica of a potlatch hall with good explanations of the totems to illustrate the walk along the seashore. Of course, we are in the midst of a temperate rain forest with green everywhere. The nurse trees supply a place for the young conifers to grow in the mostly soil free beach front. Great pictures.

The pecking order of the totems was stacked in favor of the clan creating the pole. I like the ones with the eagle and bears on top. The blackfish or Orcas seemed to smile. My favorite was the pole with bear tracks up to the top with a bear grinning atop the pole. We returned to town via the bus and a return to the Walmart stop. We were dropped off downtown near Creek Street.

Until prostitution was outlawed in 1954, Creek Street was the center of this trade and after Prohibition, it also became the hub of the illicit beverage business. It is called Creek Street because of the watercourse that flows through. Tourists are directed along the Married Man’s Walk to avoid some of the old businesses that clustered along the boardwalks above the water. The Creek has a fish ladder to help the salmon reach the spawning grounds above town. The creek is covered with the decaying bodies of the unfortunate salmon without the energy to reach the upper reaches. The scene summarized the natural cycle of life, death and rebirth.

We returned to the ship mid-afternoon and then made on more visit to the curio stores. We found the missing puffin t-shirt but failed to locate an Alaskan hat for Duke the Pomeranian. I have to admit that the tourist shopping in Ketchikan deserved a medal for tastelessness and déjà vu. We have the requisite t-shirts and cool stuff for Barrett.

Tomorrow we leave for our trip down the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland.

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