On My Way Down to Ketchikan/Yes Bay

After I bid farewell to Bethan and Anchorage, I hopped on the plane and headed south. I flew Alaskan Airlines and they absolutely rock because they let me check my baggage for free! United Airlines charged me 80 bucks to do the same, so I was glad to save some money on that front. The flight stopped in Juneau, Petersburg and Wrangell, which was actually pretty cool as I got to see a lot of Alaska along the way. I had a window seat so I got to take in a lot of scenery during the course of the flight.

For the first couple of stops I had a couple of kids (brother and sister, probably twins) around 8 years old in the aisle and center seats. They were flying by themselves and I feared that they would be wild screaming brats the whole 6 hour flight. Amazingly, the kids were really well behaved and they only started to get crazy about a half hour out of their stop in Petersburg.

Unfortunately, when they got off a wild band of about 5 10-12 year old boys went completely berserk in the back of the plane where I was and kept hopping in and out of the vacant seats next to me. Their mom couldn’t control them and their dad was on some heavy pills or smack and was on the nod the whole time. At one point the dad spilled an entire cup of coffee on the floor and was staggering around trying to clean it up. It was so bad that even the stewardess was asking him if he was ok. It was absolute teeth-grinding chaos. I was so glad when the plane finally landed in Ketchikan.

I had heard horror stories about lost/damaged luggage on flights landing in Ketchikan, so upon my arrival I was very pleased to find that all my stuff made it there safely. As I was waiting at the baggage claim I heard people talking about making the ferry, and when I asked I discovered that the airport was on an island and the only way to get to town was by boat! I did a quick Google search and found that the ferry leaves on the hour and half hour, so as it was about ten till five I hustled out the door and followed the signs to the loading dock. Fortunately the ferry entrance was right outside the front of the airport so I didn’t have to lug my heavy duffel bag too far. I paid the 6 dollar toll and boarded the ferry right as they were about to pull away.

As I had an Airb&b booked for the night, when I got to the other side I pulled up Uber to look for a lift to get me there. I found out that both Uber and Lyft didn’t have any cars available. Ketchikan seems to be the only place I have been to in the country in the last 5 years or so where the old-fashioned taxi is still the king. I called up a local cab company and when they arrived I was informed that a 4 mile cab ride was going to set me back like 30 dollars. No wonder why ride-share companies aren’t present in Ketchikan, there is obviously a strong cab mafia in place there! As a former cabbie I’m kind of happy that the cab drivers there still have a strong presence and have kept out the rideshares, but my wallet wasn’t too happy about it!

My cab driver was a cool dude, he was actually from Houston and comes up to drive in Ketchikan during the summer season. He makes a whole lot of money doing this, it seems like I’m in the wrong business doing what I’m doing! My job pays peanuts compared to what he makes, but like all lucrative jobs you’ve got to be connected to score employment like that. It was nice to run into a fellow Southerner all the way up here in Alaska though!

I got dropped off at my Airb&b and met the lady who ran it. She was a real sweet lady who I judged to be Russian or Eastern European from her accent. The room and house were very comfortable and clean, it was a great place to stay. I really wanted to get down into town and start exploring, so after chatting with her for a while I walked down the hill to the bus stop and took the bus back into town. I was really wanting to get a cheeseburger so I found this place that served elk burgers, so of course I had to have one! After I ate I walked around and did a little bit of sight-seeing. I decided I really liked Ketchikan. It felt like a wild west frontier town, I felt right at home. It seemed like a place where anything could happen at anytime. Such a change from what I’m used to in the lower 48!

I was getting rather thirsty by this point so I decided to stop and grab some beers at the Arctic Bar. It was a pretty rowdy place for sure! They had a nice back patio overlooking the water in the back so I had some scenery to look at as I was enjoying my drinks. The familiar smell of good weed was everywhere, nice to know that they were herb-friendly. There was quite a mix of people milling about from bikers to fishermen to tourists, but everyone seemed mellow and the vibe was good. Then this one big Viking-looking dude started slamming around beer bottles and hollering, but no one seemed to pay him any mind. It was usual for a Monday night at this place I guess.

Later inside he was yelling across the bar at some hipster looking dudes and demanded that they speak to him in Italian for some reason. They were obviously American but he started to get unhinged when they wouldn’t go along with his request. I figured things were about to go sour so I paid my tab and headed out. I kind of wanted to see how the situation would play out but I was far too sober and tired to deal with such shenanigans. By this time it was getting close to 10 PM and I was scheduled to be picked up by my lodge at 8 the next morning, so I made my way back to my Airb&b.

After a good night’s sleep, I got a ride to the lodge office in town in one of the company vans. My new employer’s daughter picked me up and delivered me to the waiting floatplane after I made a last minute stop to grab my Alaskan fishing licence and an extra pair of boots. The office was right on the water, and the company floatplane was berthed right next to it. I met the pilot who happened to be the husband of the girl who picked me up. It’s a family-owned & operated business through and through. There was a grocery delivery going out with me, (2500 lbs worth) so my first official duty working for the lodge was to help load up the plane. After this was done, I loaded myself & my gear into the waiting plane and soon we were off!

It was so cool taking off on the water for the first time! The pilot, Trevor, was a really cool dude. He seemed to be my age or a little younger but was a very accomplished pilot. I think he told me he’s logged something like 14,000 flight hours in his career. That’s a lot of time in the air! I really enjoyed looking around at all the beautiful scenery as we made our way to the lodge. Trevor gave me a nice little rundown of what it was like to be a bush pilot in Alaska and what to expect at my destination. The lodge is about 50 miles to the north of Ketchikan and the flight took about 20-30 minutes. Finally, we reached the mouth of Yes Bay. Shortly thereafter, the lodge swung into view and we made a smooth landing. As we taxied to the dock the dock crew swung into action and got us parked. I leapt out of the plane, and there I was finally at long last. I had arrived at my home for the next 4 months.

So as of now I’ve been here a week and a half. I’ve got so much to write about, but I’ll have to leave that for next week’s post. My free time is very limited, and internet service is spotty so it’s been a challenge to upload my pictures and writings. Sometimes the internet lets me upload my blog and sometimes it doesn’t, it depends on the day. Suffice to say that life here is what I expected, but not what I expected at the same time. Living the lodge life out in the Alaskan bush is really extreme and is taking a lot to get used to. At times I love it and other times I wonder what in the hell was I thinking signing up for this? Anyways, I’ll leave it at that for now. Stay tuned for the lowdown next week on Tales of the Dogfish!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s