Yesterday we ended a month at one work site and began a week at another one. This is such a short stay it will fly by, and then we have a time out.
We started the morning with clean up. It’s my routine to leave the temp housing ready for the next guest, and I also leave a few things tucked behind for the next trip. There’s always a bit of sorting and tossing to do, and between packing and tidying, departure days start early.
The weather was a factor. We were scheduled to fly out via float plane, but the winds were too high, so we had a last-minute switch to the ferry. The tricky part is managing luggage between ferry and airport without a vehicle, when there are several errand stops between the two. We had to revise the plan. The only thing to do was drop the luggage at the airport first so we could navigate the stops without a struggle.
We had most of the day to spend in Ketchikan, the big city that offers a few more amenities than the small islands where we’re working. Hair cut, shopping, lunch, and mail pick up were all on the list.
Here’s where the frustration of the Ketchikan airport comes in. To drop off luggage for the afternoon flight we had to catch the airport ferry to a different island. (I’m always irritated that the airport is on a different island than the community. A five-minute crossing separates the two islands.) The ferry runs twice each hour, and everything is about timing. So we came off the state ferry like a small traveling circus, four roller bags, two back packs, and my purse, which this go-round is one of those large summer beach bags.
(Yes, my purse is really like a small child that travels with us. Can’t be left alone, is about the same size as a five-year-old, and has to have its own seat on the plane. I could store other small beings in it, it’s that roomy. You get the idea. )
With about 15 minutes to the next airport ferry run, we took a cab from the state ferry terminal down the street, made it to the airport ferry dock, crossed over, dropped the luggage off, and came back to the Ketchikan side. Thanks to the timing of the airport ferry, that only took an hour.
Then, because it was only raining lightly, we opted to walk.
If you’ve ever come to Ketchikan on a cruise, or just happened to wander there for some other reason, you’ll know that the main thoroughfare of the community is Tongass Avenue, which runs the length of the town and extends out to either end of the island. The stretch in town is probably between two and three miles, and we didn’t have to walk that whole way.
We had a strategic route to hit the four stops we needed to make and get back to the airport ferry in time for the 3:15.
First, we needed to pick up mail. At this point, there’s not a lot of mail that accumulates. We take advantage of all the online bill paying options and notifications available. But there’s always something in the box, and we check it anytime we’re in town. Occasionally we have mail forwarded, but at $20 a pop to have mail sent to us, when most of what collects is just the junk, it’s worth the stop if we’re passing through.
We got that done. There was a replacement debit card in the pile of catalogs, fliers, and otherwise very-important stuff, so worth the stop. Then it was on to the really critical stop: haircut and eyebrow waxing.
I love a good brow wax. When I started doing this for myself a few years ago, it was a fun little tack-on to my regular hair cut. Little did I know that it would come to be a necessity in time.
Have you ever tried to pluck your eyebrows wearing glasses?! I can’t do it with them on, and I certainly can’t do it without! Not that I need a lot done. But it’s nice to get that silky smooth feeling every few weeks, and know that someone with better vision than me is cleaning up my brow line.
Bear with me…I know this is a first world problem, but these are the little chores you have to think about when you spend a lot of time on small islands without some of the niceties of life readily available.
After the grooming session, I wanted to look for a new rain jacket.
If you know anything about SE Alaska, you know it’s rainforest. I know, that’s surprising. Rainforest isn’t usually associated with Alaska. But it’s so. Rain here is measured in feet, not inches. As in, Ketchikan gets an average of 13 feet of rain each year.
So rain gear is a good thing.
My last jacket’s been showing signs of wear, getting a little thin in spots, and I just found a rip in a seam. Time to replace.
In case you haven’t been shopping for rain gear lately, let me tell you, you can spend hundreds of dollars on a name brand. The most expensive (and ugliest) option I saw was a mere $500. I’m not kidding! It was hideous and outrageous. That’s a pretty good feat, for rain gear.
I looked at several brands…Columbia, North Face, some knock off labels, and wound up with a Helly Hansen jacket. It’s sort of a bright salmon color (appropriate: Ketchikan is the salmon capital of the world) and was a mere $100. A bargain among the other options, and I’ll be easy to spot half a continent away!
Then, on to lunch. When restaurant options are limited on the small islands where we work (that’s a generous way to express it) a lunch date is something to look forward to.
That’s one thing that island life does for you…you learn to appreciate so many things that are commonplace in the lower 48.
I appreciate road trips, and having my own car, variety of services and shopping, options of all kinds. Often, here, if there is one of anything…grocery or any type of store or service…there’s only one.
Of course it’s our choice to work in these environments, but still. Nice to have variety.
So lunch…crab cakes and king crab, smoked salmon chowder and yummy bread, a Marion berry buckle dessert, and a friendly waiter to fetch it all.
We left the restaurant with about half an hour to get back to the airport ferry for the run across to the airport. We didn’t make it too far before giving in to the faster option of a cab. Even without luggage we didn’t have time to walk it.
One more ferry ride, then check in with the small inter-island airline for the afternoon flight.
We made it to our next place by early evening, unpacked at the apartment, and squeezed in a grocery run for the week. Funny how the routines of home keeping follow you around, even in temporary lodging.
Epic? Grand adventure? Not really. But I learn, I discover, I savor.
Just another day in the life. The good stuff.
One of Alaska’s creepy crawlies