SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

It's That Time Again
By Dave Kiffer


August 22, 2007
Wednesday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska - A few days ago, I was walking downtown and I saw a group of visitors irritably huddled under an awning.

I continued on my drippy way.

jpg Dave Kiffer

About 30 minutes later, I passed back the other way. They were still waiting under the awning.

"Your ship's eventually gonna leave," I said.

They looked surprised.

"How long is it going to rain?" the alpha male in the group asked.

"Might be a while," I replied.

"Really," he said. "Well, how long has it been raining?"

I was sooooooooo close to saying "I don't know, I'm only 48," but I restrained myself.

"It could last for the rest of the day," I said. "You should make a break for it and go back to the docks."

They nodded, and scurried back to their ship, their enthusiasm for Our Fair Salmon City obviously drenched.

So here we are in August.

Time again to share our favorite "visitor" stories.

For example, in June I was walking over the bridge to Creek Street (from the Centennial Building parking lot) and heard the following exchange.

"Dorothy, Creek Street is just over this bridge, come on."


"Come on."

"No, I can't see the ship from here. I'm not going any farther."

Then about two weeks later, I was up by the City Park, when I noticed two women pacing about nervously.

"Can I help you?" I enquired.

"Yes," one answered. "We seem to be lost."

"Where are you headed?"

"We need to get back to our ship."

"Just go that way," I said pointing back toward Downtown.

"Are you sure?"

Well, no, but I've only lived hear half a century or so, maybe you should ask my mother to make sure.

Thus far this year, I haven't had any really great stories to tell, just the usual tales of folks getting lost, of wondering how far Ketchikan is above sea level and whether American money is good here.

Really, what do they tell these folks on their "port talks" anyway? Other than which stores have the "authentic" Alaska diamonds and tanzanite?

Maybe it is true that cruise passengers do check their brains with the purser when they get on board. How else do you explain standing in the middle of the road or rushing about trying to find that store with the "10 percent off sale?"

Thus far this year there has been nothing good like last year, when a visitor saw a sign in the library foyer and exclaimed loudly "Who is Cinco De Mayo and why is he speaking at the Ketchikan library?"


Two years ago when someone walked up to the information desk at the Visitors Bureau and asked "how much does Deer Mountain weigh?"


Three years ago when a story circulated about a group of visiting outdoorsmen from another country that booked a wilderness camping trip.

They were concerned about bears and asked locally about deterrents. They were given some pepper spray.

A pilot dropped them off at their remote cabin site and taxied away. After taking off, he circled over the campsite and saw the visitors writhing on the ground.

He landed and returned to see what was up.

They'd applied the pepper spray to each other, ala bug dope.


Four years ago, when a local cab driver reported the following exchange.

He'd been taking two couples around town on a tour and they were enjoying the ride.

"How much would it cost for you to drive us to Juneau?" one of the alpha males asked nonchalantly. "I mean, if we were having too much fun on this here tour and missed our ship."

"$2,000" the cabbie replied without missing a beat.

"That seems a little high," the alpha male replied. "How far is it?"

"200 miles."

"Oh come on, you could cut us a deal!"

"Sure, but Alaska Airlines wouldn't."

Fortunately, we've still got a some time to go in the season. Hope springs eternal.

Let me know if you hear any good ones!

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

Dave Kiffer ©2007

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