From ChurchDiva: Ketchikan - Part 2

Now I can imagine what brawling, loud, raucous town Ketchikan must have been to Alaskan newcomers in the past. A first port of call to miners, trappers, adventurers, etc. Because the mountain range nearly reaches the shore, the early pioneers built “land” by sinking pilings and building piers on top of them. Many of the houses and restaurants are actually on stilts in the harbor. Some are restored, others built in replication of the old stores. However, like most cruise ports, Ketchikan boasts of at least 15 jewelry stores (including Bernard Passman, also in every Caribbean port).

Mind you, I’m not against jewelry stores, but when you've seen one you've seen them all, each having the same jewelry, each pitching they have a better price than the previous one. Of course, cruise ships get a cut of the profits so they conveniently put coupons for free merchandise in your stateroom to lure you into those stores the nite before port call.

Jo and Brenda (armed with a jewelry assault plan; Jay found the nearest bench to sit down) started hunting for their free charms, and gem giveaways. As a ‘seasoned’ traveler, these touristy traps I tend to shy away from. But not to spoil anyone’s ‘first cruise’ spirit, I marched along in joyful cruise attitude.

Fortunately, there was more to Ketchikan than the jewelry stores! Our tour guide (Jason….mighty fine) took us to Potlatch Park where we viewed the totem park, onto the carving shed, and to the Clan House.

Alaska.org - Potlatch Park - Ketchikan Alaska - Official Video - Watch the top videos of the week here

Next stop was the Deer Mountain Salmon Hatchery and Eagle Center where we got more than I needed to know about salmon. We saw the fish ladder were live salmon swam upstream, heard about raising Alaskan Salmon etc. Now I am not a big salmon eater, and it was the time of year when salmon go upstream to their birth streams, spawn and die. I think I became a lesser salmon eater.

Our easy-on-the-eyes tour guide Jason dropped us off on the pier just in time as the gangway would shortly be raised.

In the afternoon, the Statendam set sail for Juneau. Off to the Lido restaurant and bar for a lite snack and adult beverage (I ordered a Sidecar or two, I don’t remember. Did you know the original recipe for a Sidecar comes from Harry’s in Paris??????? Been there!!!!)

Did you know they have a Friends of Bill (AA) meeting on board??? Missed that!

Headed for an Advanced Editing Digital Workshop. Leaned a few things about “stitching” photos together to make a great panorama photo.

With Jo, Brenda and husbands having plans for the evening, I head off to experience the Pinnacle Grill, a reservation only dining experience. Smart casual was the dress for the evening but I’m glad I gussied up a little more since the restaurant had Bvlgari china, Frette linens and Riedel stemware (yes, I peaked when no one was looking). A panoply of servers began hovering around me; first, the napkin placer on my lap person, then the champagne server (I didn’t order that…oh, compliments of the house); then the server with the menu, then the server displaying the cuts of meat on a wheel glass-domed cart. I opted for the filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce with a side of asparagus and baked potato.

Not to be outed by the other servers, the sommelier hands me the wine list (S*#*#, where is TravelDiva when you need her). I selected a Chatea Ste. Michelle Merlot, which I was well pleased with (I’m not the red wine drinker in the family).

I started with an appetizer called the Pinnacle Ocean Platter — carpaccio of lightly smoked salmon, hot smoked salmon, sea scallops and wasabi cream. This was served on those nice white art deco plates… ya know plating is half the battle!!!! I followed that up with a lobster bisque soup which I would have put a tad bit more liquor in. After finishing the main course, Master Chef Sodamin, Indonesian who likes to cook Italian (go figure), came to my table for the usual “how’s the food” routine.

Actually, we ended up having a half hour conversation on cooking (thank God for Top Chef, Iron Chef, and all my cookbooks, etc.)

Not wanting to loose the evening ambience, I ordered a chocolate and vanilla creme brulee with a glass of brandy. Now only if I had a cigar, it would have been a perfect evening!!!

Stay tuned for the next episode.