Dream Trip To Yukon and Alaska By Road, To Anywhere Else By Any Means At All

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Aug 30 - On Board and in Ketchikan -- (Dream Travel Trip Anywhere; Yukon-Alaska Road Trip)

Alaska and Back: Did The Guides Work? > What Actually Happened > ...Coming Home FROM The Arctic

August 30, 2006, on board ship
....and in Ketchikan

August 30, 2006

Hi All!

Well, it’s possible that at today’s midday stop, Ketchikan AK, I may actually find a place to hook up to the Internet. We’ll see.

For now, suffice it to say that all is going well, we’re two days out, the constantly changing scenery has been a wonder, and I have seen whales – or at least tails of whales – as the picture shows (if you look carefully).

A word about Patricia (not Pat, please!). She is the 60+ year-old waitress to whose table I return for breakfast and dinner each day.

She’s a storehouse of knowledge about all the places this ship goes, has a great sense of humor, is resident of the outburbs (see below) of Ketchikan who works 6 months a year on board this ship and does the other six months in Texas going bass fishing.

While she’s here in Alaska, Patricia lives alone in a cabin on the water across the straits from Ketchikan, without electricity or running water and accessible only by pontoon plane.

She works 7 days out, gets seven days at home, knows all the bush pilots who take her back and forth at $150 each roundtrip - twice a month, and helps them with the navigation when it’s foggy.

Each time she comes home, she carries with her two boxes of groceries – and that’s it. When the pilot drops her off at dockside on the island where her cabin is (along with a few others), she does the last leg in her 16-foot boat with outboard.

Patricia prides herself on never having gone into a Walmart, here or in Texas. And yup, there’s even a Walmart in this here landlocked Ketchikan, fed (like everything and everyone else) by container barges that haul everything in … and out.

And not to forget 22 year old Rachel.

Rachel sat at the table next to me at dinner. She is also from Ketchikan, was returning from Juneau where she worked as a swimming instructor at the municipal school,

... is going home to take care of Grandma who broke her ankle (and who raised Rachel ‘cause Mom is a total drunk),

... who never really knew her Dad, whose Grandpa, Jimmy Smart Sr, now passed on, started one of Alaska’s more successful construction companies and who built most of Ketchikan’s deep water ship docks and who bought up hundreds of thousands of acres of near-worthless land near Delta Junction (end of

To see pictures, click LARGE arrow BELOW the map-3rd icon from left. For BIGGER images, click white circle (1st icon). For more info, see menu: Begin Here/User's Guide

The route ... click below to start the slide show ...

Alaska Highway) BEFORE they discovered gold there (need I say more about how wealthy Grandpa was?),

... and whose Mother’s brother Jimmy Junior was a documented cocaine user before he got wisdom and took over Smart Construction and now is a straight-as-an-arrow workaholic!

I don’t want to leave out that Rachel collects body art on her body from Alaska’s more renowned tattoo artists (she showed Patricia and me her ankle, knee, forearm, and behind-the-ears work, the other tattoos being in places we’re never gonna see).

Rachel admits that, when wearing her bathing suit at the municipal pool in Juneau, she did hear more than a fair share of Alaska moms complain that they didn’t want that “acid rock freak” teaching THEIR children how to swim.

But it mattered little, since she’s in demand all over Alaska for her teaching skills and ways with kids – and by Patricia’s and my estimate, is telling the god’s honest truth that she’s never done drugs in her life – Grandma would have raised holy hell, since Jimmy Jr was enough.

Finally, when Rachel saw me drop my jaw (I did!) at the LARGE tattoos on her arm and neck, she asked me to keep an open mind, which, while I was gasping for air, I said I would do.

But to make sure, she gave me a tattoo magazine to take home, which I promised to do. And you will get to see it, folks, because I don’t think you would believe me if I simply described it to you.

Later… Cliff

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