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.

The view from my window

As the morning mist rises, I look out from the windows in my sunroom to the Tongass Narrows, part of Alaska’s Inside Passage. The small community of Ketchikan, AK, is built along this stretch of coast. There are low mountains all around, covered with the evergreen trees that blanket the Southeast of Alaska in forest. This time of year, early December, the tops of the mountains have a frosting of snow. Although this is Alaska, the Southeast’s climate is temperate, and rain is the most significant weather feature. The view is beautiful, a combination of nature’s serenity and the human traffic of the region: fishing boats, both recreational and commercial, barges, all types of marine vessels. And float planes, the ever-present air transporation so vital to this area. In the summer season huge cruise ships are the most prominent traffic on the water.

I have had many views from my windows in the past thirty years. I have been fortunate to live in some pristine and scenic places. Colorado was home for almost twenty years, and from the Western Slope view of the Grand Mesa and the Redlands to the majestic alpine mountains from the foothills outside of Denver, I had a front row seat to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons. For a few years in Michigan my view was a suburban neighborhood, filled with children playing street hockey and riding bikes, a kind of ideal Americana image magically preserved from some earlier and more innocent era.

My view will be changing soon. I’m listing the house for sale in January. I don’t know what the new scenery will be, but I’m hoping that it will be beautiful. I’ll admit, I’m spoiled. Maybe this is the opportunity to have a beach view and see amazing sunsets on a daily basis. Or it might be a changing view from the windows of an RV. Whatever is in the future, I’m looking forward to the adventure and the joy of experiencing what’s next.