Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ketchikan

Ketchikan came and went way too fast and now I'm stuck with the reality of being confined to this boat for the next 36 hours. And apparently they only have one movie to show as they are about to put Juno on for the second time in 24 hours. At least the weather's perfect and at least I got in a 3.5 hour run in Ketchikan.

I found the town to be an interesting place that reminded me at once of so many extremely different places: Juneau, Moab, Virginia Beach, and at time a nameless small town in that area that's sort of Midwest, sort of Northeast, and sort of South - Southern Ohio, Southern Illinois, Northern Kentucky, Norther West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania.

The most surprising thing about Ketchikan was how large it seemed. Despite a population of about quarter of Juneau it seems to be so much more filled with people. Traffic seeded to be going in all directions, at all times, like small towns in Southern California that are barely large enough to show up on a gas station road map. And like Juneau there seemed to be houses everywhere you could possibly conceive of putting them. Unlike Juneau though there were also houses and roads built in places you really can't even imagine houses and roads. And of course this left a very noticeable scar on the land.

The first thing you notice are all the forests outside of town that have been clear-cut over the decades in this area where timber was the primary industry for about 30 years. After a bit though the clear cuts begin to blend in with the landscape and you start to notice smaller things as you get closer to town center. This is an area where whole mountainsides are blasted away to put in new roadways and there seems to be huge gouges in the Earth much more noticeable than most places. I'm sure the steep topography is a large part of this, but Juneau is even more steeply situated and seems to have done a better job of building around rather than through the landscape. Juneau has somehow found a way to make a city of 30,000 fit comfortably into a very small area, whereas Ketchikan seems to have had a hard time making 8,000 people fit comfortably into what feels like a larger area.