July 2, 2010
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As tourists to the Pacific Northwest we learned the region loves
its prostitutes -- at least the ones from the Good Ol' Days. From
Seattle's Underground Tour, up to the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway and on
Creek Street in Ketchikan, the story is the same:
Once upon a time here, sassy gals lifted their
frilly skirts to entertain burly fishermen and lumberjacks.
Different wares these days, but Ketchikan still has to put out: T-shirts
and other Alaskiana for the hordes (like us) who every summer day walk
down the gangplanks from big cruise ships. Our friend Glenn is from Ketchikan,
and we learned from him that it's a little sad how downtown has changed to meet
this new opportunity.
Glenn also told us that the Pacific there is actually warmer than in Northern California,
thanks to a current that curves up from Japan and strikes Ketchikan with
warm water and lots of rain. You can swim here without a wet suit, he said. And even
though we were lucky enough to hit town on one of its 25 days of sunshine a year,
we resisted the urge to jump into these Alaskan waters.
Glenn met Nicole up here in the late '80s and now they live just a few blocks away from
us in Santa Rosa. They told us a strange tale of a friend of theirs who, on his last
day working for a cannery there, was accused of a bomb threat and wound up in a
Ketchikan jail while the icy cooler of fish he had planned to bring home to his family melted
and rotted on the tarmac.
Our visit was less eventful, though Ellie and I did hit a salmon fishery, where we
saw two convalescing bald eagles. We also took in Creek Street (where the frilly-skirted
ladies once worked) and the beautiful path adjacent to it called Married Man's Trail. I guessed
this was an alternate route across town, which respectable men could take so as to avoid being
exposed to the debauchery on Creek Street. But Jen laughed at my naivete
and suggested that instead this was the path that married men took to the
bordellos to avoid being seen. I guess that makes more sense, given everything
we've learned about the Ol' Northwest.