SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Wacky Visitors, Circa 2009


October 07, 2009

Ketchikan, Alaska - Now that the last cruise ship has headed for the Panama Canal, it's time to answer the biggest question of the season.

jpg Dave Kiffer

Dave Kiffer

How many visitors came here this year?


How much did they spend?


The biggest question on the minds of the residents of Our Fair Salmon City?

Just how funny were the visitors this year?

In general, it wasn't as "funny" a year as some. Maybe that was where the recession really hit hardest, the funny bone.

Folks scraping together enough money to buy a cheap cabin just didn't pack as much wacky behavior and odd questions along for the trip as they usually do, according to the folks that spent the most time with them - the people in the visitor service industry.

Of course, that doesn't mean there was no humor on the docks this year. There was a little.

And here are some of the stories that were passed along to me at the end of the season. Big kudos to the summer staff at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureaufor a lot of these!

As always, if you have some other good stories pass them along to me a <>

First off, I had a hiking enthusiast contact me about going up the Deer Mountain trail. He was particularly concerned about how long it would take.

"What time does the mountain close?" he asked.

Another time there was a new explanation for salmon behavior at the mouth of Ketchikan creek.

"The water is shallower there and warmer," a woman was heard explaining to her friend. "That's why they jump so much. They're trying to cool off."

Naturally, a different visitor asked someone at the KVB "what time do the salmon go up the creek?"

And, of course, there were the usual questions about the times of the "whale shows" in the harbor.

Folks just hate to miss those wildlife shows!

This summer, there was the usual collection of geographically challenged visitors.

One woman asked a KVB staffer where she could catch a bus to Misty Fjords.

One elderly gentleman was trying to be helpful to his wife when she asked about the snow on Deer Mountain early in the season.

"That's the Mendenhall Glacier, Dear."

Another visitor - apparently a fan of the former Governor - pointed to Pennock Island and asked "is that Russia?"

Overall, there were quite a few questions about the former Governor. During one discussion, someone said they would have been happy to vote 100 times for Sarah Palin to which a European visitor sagely replied "you can't do that, unless you live in Chicago."

Most visitors though, didn't have quite that much on the ball.

One woman was really unhappy about having to climb a steep gangway on Ryus Float to get to the main dock at low tide.

"You people really ought to build your town a little closer to the water," she was heard to grumble.

Some of the questions showed that, as always, a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

"Are there totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center?"

"Are there bears in Alaska?"

"Is it safe to go into the woods while menstruating?"

"Where do we go to see the rainforest?"

"About the wild Alaska salmon, are those salmon from Alaska?"

And then there were the questions that were beyond comphrehension

One man walked up to the local guide.

"Do you speak, German?" he asked.

"No, " replied the guide.

"Thank God," the man added. "Neither do I."

A French tourist was heard to complain about the fact that Ketchikan needed a "paint job" and that the tours were of poor quality, except that "the tour of Tongass Mens Wear was wonderful."

As usual, some of the visitors were a little confused about the tours.

One woman got a little frantic when her husband was late getting back from his "tour of the Bering Sea."

Another woman wanted to know "what kind of ducks you see on the Duck Tour."

My favorite 'summer people' story came from my wife Charlotte who one day noticed several women talking pictures of one of the bathrooms at the library.

When she asked why, they told her that one of their friends had been unable to come of the trip .

"When we travel, she's always heading for the bathroom," one of them said. "We wanted her to see what she missed."


On the Web:

More Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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Dave Kiffer ©2009

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