Orca whales are a common site around Ketchikan (Source: Alan Wolf) “Why do you live here?” It’s a question I’m often asked when I tell people that Ketchikan is my home. I was standing there by my coach, loading passengers on a Saturday morning when the question came up again. It’s not an easy question, because there are so many reasons. The incredible beauty of southeast Alaska, with towering mountains rising out of the sea. The sense of community that comes with living in a small town on an island. The wonderful culture of the Native people who have lived here for thousands of years, their clan houses and their totems and their dancing. Hiking through the rainforest and coming upon a mama bear teaching her cubs how to fish for salmon. Kayaking in the early morning and having a pod of orca whales swim past. Raising our children in a town where everyone looks out for them. How the weather here makes us appreciate the sunshine so much more.
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I try and share all this with my guests as I drive them around, and they all appreciate the beauty of southeast Alaska, but coming here on a cruise you really only scratch the surface a little bit. This is my fifth year driving. I’m one of many “townies” that come back year after year. And each summer we get a new group of driver guides that come up to work for the summer, they have lots of chances to go hiking, or fishing, or kayaking, sometimes we even get to go on the boat tours with our guests. The Driver Guides really get to know Ketchikan and learn why it’s so special. Some of them come back the next year, some don’t, but I think they all look back at the summer with fondness as they leave at the end of their season.
So I was standing there, trying to think of how to answer the question, and all of a sudden a bald eagle swooped down and flew right past us, not more than twenty or thirty feet away.
I just smiled.