Buttinskis, Bridges, Smoking,
and Tourist Traps
By James (Bud) Burke
August 02, 2007
I first came to Ketchikan eight years ago to visit family. It
was love at first sight. I visited every year after that until
a year ago when I retired and moved here. I am reminded of a
bumper sticker that was popular in Texas a few years back: "I
wasn't born here but I got here as quick as I could". I
have lived in many different states. I still have a home and
family in Kansas City, Missouri. I spend a couple of months there
each year as it is my second favorite place.
As a total newbie to Alaska, I have hesitated to weigh in on
the various topics of discussion here. Buttinskis are everywhere.
They are good for us. Ketchikan residents can read their opinions
and perhaps gain new insight to a given problem. I think what
bothers folks is when people seem to be simply venting emotions
without concern for offering factual information or plausible
solutions to a problem.
Mr. Hoff does both. He speaks from a position of personal, first-hand
knowledge of Ketchikan and the area. While we may disagree with
him about many things, it is easy to listen and maybe understand
his viewpoint. I have read everything written here for the past
year or so and still have conflicting opinions about the bridge
(in a perfect world, I think I would prefer a tunnel). I am
grateful for any factual information but don't really need to
read rants typed in all capital letters which seem to scream
at the reader. Having lived in Missouri for many years I can
assure everyone that there are many bridges and lots of pork
One thing I love about Alaska is the live-and-let-live attitude.
The people, and even the government to some degree, tend to
be less restrictive than those in the lower forty-eight. This
is changing but is still far better than most of our southern
states. I don't smoke but hate laws that tell me how to live.
I like the atmosphere at some establishments so I endure the
smoke. I'd like to have restaurants be either smoking allowed,
or smoke free. That would be best for me. I just hate to see
it legislated. It leads to more legislation like gun control
laws written by the uninformed and uncaring.
As for Ketchikan being a tourist trap; we do indeed rely heavily
on tourism more than ever before. I don't think many of us truly
enjoy the game of dodge the tourist while driving through the
downtown area. The truth is, they are just people trying to
get a glimpse of what it is that keeps the rest of us here.
They come and go and most that I have heard, speak fondly of
Ketchikan. It is a mystery to me that jewelry stores are so
popular with tourists. That said, they really are no worse than
other, tourist related, stores which hawk cheap souvenirs. It
would be nice if there were more locally owned businesses profiting
from the tourist trade. I was surprised at the ghost town atmosphere
in the downtown area during my first winter here.
I personally would prefer that our main industries be logging
and fishing as in days gone by. I fear that tourism will lead
to the same malady that has fallen on places like Jackson Hole,
Wyoming. The wealthy tourists love the wilderness area so much
that they return and build million dollar summer homes and bring
many of the problems of the city to the wilderness, changing
it forever. I suspect that some of this is fueling what seems
to be a lot of very expensive homes being built here.
Ketchikan is a wonderful place filled with great people. I'm
lucky to live here, vote here, and experience this area where
God did his finest work.
Received July 31, 2007 - Published
August 02, 2007
About: "Lived here a little
over a year"
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