Alaska Trip: Ketchikan

Alaska trip

Summer is ending, and so it seems appropriate that my posts on our Alaska trip are coming to an end with this installment. It really was a nice trip. We took a Hawaiian cruise five years ago, and in most ways I think I prefer this Alaska trip over the Hawaii one.

Our final port was Ketchikan.

Ketchikan Alaska

Ketchikan is a town of about 8000 along Alaska’s Inside Passage. It’s known for totem poles, so off we went on a city bus to Totem Bight State Historical Park, which had them in spades.

Ketchikan Totem Bight totem pole

There was a nice path to walk that took us past many totem poles, as well as the “Clan House” of the Tlingit and Haida natives who had lived (and still live) in the area. The park also had a nice pond and nature area, so we spent a while there as well.

banana slug Totem Bight park Alaska

This being a temperate rain forest, there were creatures like this huge (but harmless) banana slug.

Totem Bight Park Ketchikan Alaska

It was a gorgeous place. If you are even in Ketchikan — go there!

Ketchikan’s Creek Street

Back in town,  we walked to Creek Street. This is the city’s old shopping district, and it had a quaint look. It reminded me a lot of Nashville, Indiana, if you’ve ever been there.

Creek Street Ketchikan Alaska

We did a little looking in the touristy souvenir shops along the dock as well, and with that, we called it a day and got back on board the Zaandam.

Take Your Whole Family on Cruises Without a College Degree

And that, my friends, wraps up our Alaska cruise. My mom generously took all three of her daughters and our families on this cruise, as well as the Hawaii cruise in 2011. When I tell people this, I always have the uncomfortable feeling that people are thinking we’re wealthy or something, when this is far from the truth. My mom has a high school education and has worked for 20 years or so as a tutor at the middle school. But, she is very frugal, and in this way she saved enough to take 12 people on 2 nice cruises. Twice!

I am much the same way, so I can attest to the fact that this works. Back in my single teaching days, I lived very frugally during the school year. Then, in the summer, I often went to Europe for two or three weeks. When people asked how I did this “on a teacher’s salary!”, I wondered how much detail they wanted. The frugal lifestyle involves going to the customer service desk to request .40 when you see that an item rang up at too high a price. It involves picking up pennies in the parking lot when you see them. It means that my new clothes this season has consisted of a $2 shirt from Goodwill. When I once heard that the average life of a pair of socks was 6 months, I laughed. I have socks I’ve worn for ten years. It’s a lifestyle — and while it’s certainly not for everyone, the rewards have been well worth it to me.

This reminds me of a MOPS group conversation from years ago. Each of us moms had to name what we wished for most, for our kids. The other moms were all saying, “happiness,” etc. I said, “the ability to delay gratification.” I think most of them thought I was nuts, but seriously — how many of life’s difficulties could be solved if we just bucked up a little and hung on?

How about you? Have you ever visited Ketchikan? Picked up a penny? 🙂




7 thoughts on “Alaska Trip: Ketchikan

  1. Amen on frugality. Sadly I do it because of the bad choices I’ve made. I could blame depression or the example of my dad, but that’s crap and I know it. I chose, I lost. Lol. But Peace Corps was a huge help–I saw how immensely wealthy Americans are. When people found out in Malawi that being “poor” in America, yes, could mean living on the streets, but it most likely meant qualifying for a subsidies (however well deserved or not) that gave a life they could not envision–it let me see life very differently. My kids, sadly, are repeating what seem now to be almost mandatory mistakes and it saddens me. My grandparents best friends came here at 14 and 18 with ZIP. They died multi-millionaires. My Uncle started from nothing and built the largest security company (at one point in time) in Chicago. Only my Uncle Graduated from high school. It’s a choice each moment. Every single moment.

    Well done to your Mom. She and my grandmother would have hit it off well. Very, very inspiring.

  2. I’ve never ventured to Alaska, or Nashville Indiana, but I have enjoyed your photos of your trip on social media this summer, so I wanted to hop on over to the blog today and comment. As for being frugal, I try! I do pick up pennies (for good luck) when they aren’t sticky. I do wear clothes for as long as possible (much longer than some, I’m sure).The last, best thing I did to save was to join Avon so I could stop paying retail for makeup, skincare, clothing, accesories and all the other trampings teen girls (and their Moms) like and use.

  3. I am so sad that the blogs about your Alaska trip have come to an end. I have enjoyed them immensely. Even though I lived in Indiana, I don’t know where Nashville, IN, is. Would love to visit there sometime. I, too, am frugal. I have always recycled everything and often buy clothes at Good Will or yard sales. And yes, I pick up pennies and sometimes find coins in larger amounts!! When my girls were growing up, I constantly told them, “It’s not where you buy it, it’s what you buy.” If you want something badly enough (like your trips to Europe), you’ll find a way to get there and you did just that. Kudos to you, Susan!! And your Mom is certainly a special lady!!

  4. Some random comments on Alaska: I wish we’d included in the book about the availability of the dessert Baked Alaska, which any of us who desired could often eat in Alaska.
    In the Anchorage school system 100 languages are spoken! True story!
    Jill bought me various fabrics at the Quilted Raven in Anchorage. It was a cool fabric store within walking distance of our Anchorage hotel. The owner helped Jill select each piece. They all were tied in to something about Alaska! As I sit here tonight, I am embroidering on an item I am creating as a sentimental piece from our Alaska vacation, and the material will be used. Perhaps someday when I complete it, I will ask Susan to feature it on Girls in White Dresses.

  5. I’ve enjoyed your posts about Alaska immensely. Perhaps it’s because I so long to visit there. I’m glad you all had such a good time.

    As far as being frugal, I think I’m pretty frugal, but I’m not nearly as frugal as you mom, and perhaps not as frugal as you. I, for example, would never bend over to pick up a coin. The reason is, bending over has become exceedingly difficult for me now. Different strokes for different folks.

  6. I’ve been to Ketchikan, Nashville, Indiana, and I picked up a penny yesterday in a parking lot!!!!!! The beauty of Alaska was my favorite part of the trip, along with being able to be with all six nieces for 2 weeks. It is fun to see your pictures and remember things about the trip that I had forgotten.

  7. I guess you could call Creek Street a “shopping district”….it was the red-light district! Creek Street is where all the madams and prostitutes had their houses.

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