SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column: Humor




August 20, 2017
Sunday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
I have an acquaintance who every summer waxes poetically (no rhymes thank goodness) about the summer road trips his family took each year.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Obviously he didn't grow up In Our Fair Salmon City.

With 30 or so miles of road -  50 if you count driving into and out of the potholes - we don't take very elaborate "road trips."

Yes, I know some local families go "off island" for summer drive-a-thons. A family I know just spent something like 50 days circling the country.

Good for them.

I suspect counseling is next.

It is indeed possible, once you reach Haines or Skagway or Prince Rupert or Bellingham to go on one of these "familythisclose-apaloozas" of a vacation, but that's not what we're talking about.

Seriously, cramming a family of nine into a station wagon built for five and driving non stop for the better part of a week from Cleveland to, say, Yellowstone, sounds more like a Guantanamo interrogation technique than a fun adventure.

"You won't talk huh? Okay, we are going to take a six hour side trip to the Worlds Largest Ball of Twine in Kansas!!!!"

"Oh no, not that!! I would rather listen to Englebert Humperdinck 24/7 than that!!!! I'll tell you where Al Qaeda's secret stash of celestial virgins in located. Just don't make me ride in a station wagon stuffed with jihadists to Cawker City, Kansas!!!!"

But I digress.

Is there a local variation of the summer of the road trip?

Yeah, kinda.

We call it going "Out the Road."

Considering some towns have Cul de Sacs bigger than our road system, that seems a bit much, but it's the best we can do.

So where do you go, in Ketchikan, when you go "out the road."

And no, that is not a local euphemism for dying.

"You know old Ollie Einarson?  I just heard that he went 'out the road.' "

Like how in some places they say the deceased went "into the woods." Or across "the great ocean."

Or with pets the cloying cutesy-poo term seems to be "over the rainbow bridge."


Like the color of the bridge matters?

Aren't cats and dogs pretty much colorblind?

Why would a cat or dog want to go over a bridge anyway? 

They could slip off and fall into the water. 

Is there a big food dish at the end of the "rainbow bridge?"

I can understand to "the big kitty/doggie bed in the sky" but a "rainbow bridge?"

You might as well say that a pet who dies is going to the "brown bus stop by the Centennial Building."

But, as usual, I digress. Again.

In Ketchikan. We. Go. Out. The. Road.

Sure, it could be place of great adventure. The farther you get from town the more likely activities like fishing and hunting and skinning our toes on non-sandy beaches can occur.

Which reminds me of the time when a visitor asked about the nearest beach and I suggested a bus ride to "Bugge's Beach."

"Buggie beach? Why would I want to go to a buggie beach. I don't like bugs."

"No, it's named after a guy named 'Bugge.' "

"That doesn't sound at all like what I'm looking for."

"Okay, how about Rotary Beach?"

"Like the club?"


"That sounds much better."

I hope she enjoyed skinning her toes on the non-sandy beach.

Of course, the farther you get out of town the more likely you are to encounter a rabid banana slug, but what is an adventure without the risk?

Generally these road trips - unless they are an even greater circle of Hell such as "let's travel in the car for a week so we can visit the RELATIVES" - are to the mountains, some lakeish water place or the beach.

We've already talked about beaches (see above). These are not beaches in the real sense of the word, these are locations where you can stumble down over seaweed and sharp rocks to reach the water. The really, really cold water.

Lakes. Yes you can take road trips to several lakes in these here parts. They are lovely places populated like leeches and many varieties of blood sucking gnats. A nice place to spend and afternoon letting the campfire smoke envelope you to keep the bugs off. But not a once a summer road trip destination. Unless your summer is in Ketchikan in which one sunny day may be about it.

So that leaves the mountains. Yes, you can take a road trip to several accessible mountains round here. Lovely views once you get to the top (and it is not cloudy or raining). insects are a bit of a bother (see above). And, once again, rabid banana slugs are an issue. Fortunately the bears are too busy feasting down stream on the clueless tourists (redundancy alert)  to be much of a concern.

So go ahead, knock yourself out, take a road trip.

Just be wary of all the potholes in the road. Rumor has it the Feds are thinking of creating the Tongass Highway Caverns National Park, which would double as the home of local endangered species, the rabid banana slugs.

On the Web:

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Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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