Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Back from Ketchikan, AK

The trip was a good time, overall. Thursday night, we arrived to find the mother-out-law waiting for us with the car. The Ketchikan airport is on an island across a channel from the city of Ketchikan. You must take a ferry to get to the city. To go from the airport to the city is free, but to go the other way is $4 for walk on and $10 per car plus passenger. If the clouds are at 500 feet or lower over the airport, the plane re-routes to Juneau. Luckily, they were at 700 feet for our arrival. It was raining and dark when we arrived in Alaska's 4th largest city. We went to Safeway to buy munchies and then to the liquor store for gin and wine. The suite we ended up in that night was nicely decorated, but we were surprised to see that the extra twin bed was in the master bedroom.

Friday: We spoke with Mary, the owner of the Anchor Bay B&B and she offered an adjoining room with queen size bed and bath for only $25 more per night. Still, a much cheaper price than the Beast Western ($170/night per room). It was a cloudy morning, but it wasn't raining. We ate breakfast in town (at a recommended spot), then decided we'd cook breakfast at the room for the rest of the week. When we got to the bride and groom's house, the groom, Rusty, was there and waiting to take Shawn and I fishing. We went out for 5 hours. It rained, we were soaked through, we caught nothing but turbot which Rusty said was inedible, but we had a good time drinking beer and chatting with Rusty. We grabbed up the shrimp traps before we came back in order to make the trip worthwhile (got about 100 or so shrimp). While out on the water we saw some beautiful landscapes, a sea lion, an eagle, a spider crab, some sun fish (one, nearly 24 inches across), and a lot of salmon jumping out of the water. We dropped Shawn off at our place (exhausted) and Debbie (mother-out-law) and I went shopping for dinner and breakfast food at Safeway. We came back with more snacks (one would think we had just smoked a bong and had the munchies), shrimp, pasta, eggs, capers, tomatoes (canned), herbs, kalamata olives, and more. I made dinner that night with fresh pasta, shrimp, tomatoes, kalamatas, capers, and thyme. Debbie made a delish salad to go with the meal. Much wine was drank (Big House White from Bonny Doon winery).

Saturday: The terror begins. It was a beautiful and sunny morning. Cruise ships passed by our windows. The suite was right on the beach, so we had a great view. Debbie and Shawn made breakfast; I did the dishes. We went to the couple's house in order to prepare floral decorations. I really did not want to have anything to do with it, so I took a book to read. Within minutes of our arrival, Debbie asked me to look up how to make topiaries online. It seems Debbie had done one sometime, but wasn't sure on where to go with it. Shawn had never done one and neither had the bride. In an attempt to save money and to get her vision of the wedding, the bride, Jennifer, had gone all Martha Stewart. Luckily, she had a lot of help preparing gift bags, swaths to hang from the ceiling, bouquets, topiaries, and so on. Note: Alaska time is a bit like Maui time, only wetter, colder, and darker. All hands were needed to complete the tasks, yet no one was very organized and everything took longer than expected. I got a bit frustrated - probably in part because I drank too much coffee. There was a lot of discussion and little seemed to be accomplished. We didn't get into Ketchikan like I thought we would and Debbie and Shawn seemed to be in a family mode (natural if it weren't so dysfunctional and frantic). We got out of it OK, with Shawn only calling me a "Rotten Old Bastard" once or twice.

Sunday: I drank less coffee with breakfast. Shawn helped me make it and I did the dishes. We went to the couple's home at 9:30. One topiary had been arranged the night before. The bride didn't want to do any more because she was afraid that the roses would open up too much (which was the cause of some consternation the night before as the flowers had to be carted back to a variety of homes and stuffed into refrigerators). A crew was waiting for our arrival and fro Debbie to guide them. Debbie took charge and guided the "girls" on the fine art of topiary making. Four people, Debbie included, made topiaries and Debbie supervised the final touches. My task was to trim roses and keep a supply of them available in the two colors we were dealing with. When I saw something that looked like it was going astray or about to run out, I asked questions and offered suggestions. Debbie did a great job and 8 more topiaries were finished in about 2.5 hours. We transported them and the flowers for the tables to the lodge where the wedding was to be held. Afterwards, Debbie, Shawn and I went to Ketchikan for some sight seeing. Debbie, who was a bit perturbed at me the night before, thanked me for my help in the work that day.

She was also bit perturbed that I wanted to get downtown and look around as well because, as she and Shawn noted, there wasn't much to see. I still think it was a good idea to escape the frantic madness and if they were mad at me for being demanding, so be it. We spent a pleasant afternoon shopping. Shawn and I picked up 2 prints: one from Ray Troll and one from Evon Zerbetz (scroll down to "Great Blue Heron"). We owned some of Zerbetz's work already. We dined at a resort in town for a snack and a drink before the wedding.

The wedding was at a lodge near the couple's home. A waterfall flowing next to the outdoor setting (it began to rain right after the wedding was over) drowned out much of the ceremony. A violinist played before and during the wedding (nice touch), The couple looked great. The bride's dress was beautiful - a beaded top and a color that accented her pale skin and her red hair. The groom looked as if he were going to cry through most of the ceremony. The reception was a bit disorganized. I began to wonder how many weddings the lodge had hosted (trouble getting the beer, forgot about fruit juice for children to toast with, they actually carded the groom who does have a baby face, but is over 21). I noticed how, outside of the wedding party, I was one of 3 men who wore a suit and tie. Rusty and Jennifer sat next to us at the table for dinner. They arrived late because they went straight up to their honeymoon suite at the lodge. Class. :-) Rusty's side of the family was in full on manic, obsessive, frantic mode. They try to control it, but they cannot really hide it and the whole thing tends to grate my nerves. However, Shawn reamained calm and in good spirits and I stayed away from the spirits, for the most part. After the traditional garter snapping, bouquet tossing, and cake cutting, we took off. On the way back, Debbie (who insisted on driving and is the worst driver of the three of us) was afraid of travelling on the dark and unfamiliar roads past 40 mph. This did not, I should note, endear her to the natives who, through their use of horns and flashing lights, pointed out that the speed limit was 50 mph. Debbie cursed something like, "dickheads" and I suggested that she pull off and let them by. It was a suggestion that wasn't particularly appreciated, but I think that was because she hadn't thought of it herself.

Once safely home, I dropped to my knees and told Shawn that if I survived the weekend, I'd never criticize her driving again. We relaxed to the sounds of classic jazz on the satellite TV dish. Well, we relaxed until Debbie decided that she needed to fix and clean out the ice maker in the suite's frig. I suggested turning it over in the sink overnight and letting it melt, but Debbie decided to take out some of the day's frustration with a butter knife. While she clamored away for a half hour or more, I went to bed.

Monday: We went out for breakfast again. This time it was a different spot, but the results were similar: high priced and mediocre at best. Once again we waundered around Ketchikan. In part, we did this to kill time as I had to be at the airport around 2PM. After wandering a little bit, Shawn suggested that we go to a coffee shop of some sort. I was agreeable to this idea, but once we began talking coffee, we somehow were sidetracked and ended up wandering some more. Debbie began getting irritable with me as we had run out of things to see in Ketchikan (to her mind) and I had no more suggestions of what I wanted to see. This was a bit unfair, I thought, as I noted that I was the stranger in the town and they had both visited in the past. If I had the car, I'd have driven to other spots just to see what was there and get another perspective. I did suggest that we return to the resort in town and grab coffee and/or drinks. That fell on deaf ears and we went to a dock for a walk. Shawn and I wandered around, looking at the boats and Debbie, after smoking a cigarette, joined us. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and fairly warm. We only encountered a couple of brief showers. Eventually, we made our way to a bar where we wnjoyed a beer and Debbie and Shawn split a slice of Key Lime pie. They dropped me at the airport just before 2. The flight home was uneventful and the Seatac Parking went smoothly.

I'm glad to be home. The cats were/are happy to see me. I've caught up on emails and I've got some yard work to do. Plus, I've got tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans to harvest and do something with - yikes! One day, I'd like to go back to Ketchikan without the skelatives and their agendas. A little hiking would be in order, for instance. I'd also like to see more of Alaska. The scenery is gorgeous and I find the place peaceful. The people we met are often friendly plus we met some colorful characters as well. Shawn comes back on Wednesday morning. I look forward to spending some time with her before she goes back to work on Thursday.

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