They’re back

MS Volendam docked in Ketchikan, Alaska, Unite...

Summer begins in Ketchikan

I saw the first cruise ship of the season Sunday. I looked out my front windows and saw a huge boat slowly and surely making its way toward the downtown docking berths of Ketchikan. The morning was sunny, inviting, fortunate. Booking a cruise to Alaska in the shoulder season (first or last of the cruise season months) can be risky. Passengers may experience the beauty of May or the chill of a late spring storm. Raincoats and jackets are sure to be required before the trip is done.

But that’s all from the passenger’s point of view. I’m a local, at least for a while longer. Until the house sells, I have a place in this community. Passengers can look into my front room windows with binoculars…the view is that good, that close, as the ships move slowly, majestically, toward the docks.

The ships bring tourists, tourists bring money, money brings jobs, jobs bring a bounce to the local economy. It’s heartening to see the downtown come back to life. Many of the businesses shut down in the winter months, only a few locally owned stores stay open through the off season. But everywhere in the past few weeks, I’ve seen fresh paint, new flowers, construction, the signs of rejuvenation.

Come up and visit if you’re looking for a little easy adventure. The Inside Passage is beautiful, the communities along the route are eager to entertain guests, and the weather is turning. The welcome signs are out and we’re ready for business.


A cruise ship in San Deigo Bay, August 15 2004

May 1st…not the first day of summer on the calendar, but I can’t associate the month of May with chilly spring weather. It may be like that in reality, but in my head, May is about sunshine and the first summer clothes of the season. It’s the month I cannot bring myself to wear the heavier layers of winter any more, whatever the temperature may be when I’m dressing. I’ve sent my wool coat to the cleaners, and I’ll freeze before I take it out of it’s plastic bag this side of October.

I have the first daffodil in my flower bed. The green shoots have been up for a while, but now I have one yellow flower to greet me. The first cruise ship of the season will dock on May 8, and I look forward to seeing the huge festive ships in front of my windows again. The downtown merchants have tidied up and spruced up after the winter season, in preparation for the thousands of cruise ship passengers that will be in port on a daily basis for the next several months.

Mornings in SE Alaska are brisk in spring. But there is a lovely anticipation of warmth, and I know that soon, I’ll walk outside without the familiar feeling of bracing myself against the cold.

Welcome, May! Bring on the summer!