And it feels great. I am up in Southeast Alaska, in a little town called Ketchikan. I lived here during the summer of 2010 and really missed it. I am SO happy to be back.
What will I be doing here? Well, mostly working at a sea kayaking company. And, of course, blogging about my past travels.
I will also be kayaking, fishing, hiking, and doing a lot of good eating.
So, where exactly am I calling home? Ketchi-what?
Ketchikan is called Alaska’s First City because it is the first stop on the way from Canada to Alaska. It is about as southeast as it gets.
It is also famous for being one of the rainiest cities in the world – topping in at 160-180 inches per year (over 13 feet)! That means that it rains, on average, 330 days a year here.
That sounds much worse than it is, however. A lot of the rain occurs in winter, and unlike in places like Seattle, where it is grey and drizzly a lot of the time, we’ll have several days of absolute, dramatic, holy-shit-the-world-is -going-to-end-rain, and then a few days of sun.
When I moved up here in 2010 from sunny Colorado, I thought the rain would drive me bonkers, but you really learn to live with it, to never carry an umbrella, and to appreciate the sunny (or even only slightly rainy) days.
The rain is also what makes this area one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. It keeps everything green, and it makes the salmon, eagles, whales, and bears all happy.
I never thought I’d live in a temperate rainforest, and here I am living in the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest forest in the country at a whopping 17 million acres.
Another big reason I came back here is that I was jonesing (HARD) for some seafood. After the eyeball-filled, scaly, boney crap that they serve in Korea and call fish, I couldn’t wait to get back up here and eat whatever I could catch (which, so far, has been nothing – but we’re going to ignore that little detail for now).
It’s coming – Ketchikan isn’t called “The Salmon Capital of the World” for nothing!
And though I haven’t caught anything yet, Ketchikan works on a barter system, with the currency being fish. That’s another one of my favorite things about up here – do someone a favor, get some prime salmon, halibut, or crab in return.
So, not to worry — I have been eating like a king. (And eating lots of kings! Salmon, that is.)
The town itself is wonderfully unique – filled with summer workers, fishermen, grumpy lifelong locals, Alaskan natives, and tourists. It is an unimaginably charming and eclectic mix of folks, and you will never be bored (or alone) for long at the bar.
My goals for this summer are, pretty much, to become more Alaskan.
I want to become a better fisherwoman, and more boaty… as in I’d like to learn more about boats. (I’ve been told by several boaty people that the first step to becoming more boaty is to not say boaty. Oh well.)
It is such a foreign culture up here, with people getting their first boats before their first cars and just having an infinite amount of boaty knowledge.
Oftentimes, it feels like I am living in another country, only better, because I can buy Cheez-Its at the store, never have to worry about getting ripped off, and can watch college football at regular hours.
It is going to be a fantastic season.