Catching Totems by Private Trolley in Ketchikan

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June 23rd 2017
Published: June 27th 2017
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Sharon went to the morning mass and I met her in the Exploration Lounge. From there we proceeded to the Dining Room. We had a leisurely breakfast, and I enjoyed the egg white frittata again. Sharon decided on the French Toast.

We had a tour scheduled, taking the trolley out to see the totem pole park on the edge of town. Sharon booked it from an online company so it wasn’t one available from the ship. The ship was cleared about 10 minutes later than scheduled and the people waiting to get off the ship were lined up on several decks. We were there early since it was on our deck but many people squeezed in from the upper decks via the stairs and elevators. We finally made it off but were close to our meeting time at the statue. We waited by the bronze statue honoring the various types of people who came to Alaska, only there didn’t seem to be anybody else waiting for the trolley. We’d seen a couple trolleys approach, but they didn’t pull into the separate loading zone and just drove on by. Sharon spotted someone with a tour sign, only we couldn’t see if it was our “Trolley and Totem Tour”. I approached, and I saw the tour name, but as additional confirmation I saw our name “Good” as well. She said the trolley was waiting for us at the other end of “Front Street” directly along the pier where our cruise ship was “parked”. We found that we had a private tour, as nobody else had signed up.

Our driver/guide turned out to be quite pleasant and knowledgeable. She told us that the main/oldest totem of the park had fallen down last year. We were later to learn that once a totem falls down it is not put up again; that is, it is allowed to die. These massive cedar works of art are erected to commemorate the verbal history of a clan, such as the eagles, bears, wolf or raven. The fallen totem once stood as the central pole of the park; but, now lay alongside the workshop where the 87-year-old master totem carver was imparting his native skill to his nephews. They were not on premise this morning and we could only peer into the workshop where a couple of totems were being created. The pole will be donated to a museum. Cedar is perfect for totems because this wood rots from the center towards the outside, meaning that the exterior carved outside of the cedar pole remains unaffected by the interior rot for the longest period of time.

In addition to recording some historic event, totems may be used to bestow honor on someone; or shame, as may be appropriate. The Lincoln totem featured an eagle or raven beneath a Lincoln-like image that commemorated talks that had brought peace between two warring clans. “Shame Totems” will depict the object of shame with a red or reddish face and ears. One such shame pole had been erected as a monument of shame to Seward, the man who many Americans mocked for his role in arguing for the purchase of Alaska. But at least Seward had bothered to come to Alaska, unlike McKinley who only gave his name to the mountain now called Denali. Come to think of it, it had been called Denali before he’d given his name to the mountain! Seward was shamed, not for his role in purchasing Alaska; but, because when he came to Alaska he had been honored with four potlaches in Ketchikan. A potlach is a festive ceremonial feast in which many gifts are bestowed on the one being honored; but, the local tradition holds that the honoree is obligated to return the honor and hold a potlach and offer gifts to those who honored him. He had however left Alaska, taking his wealth of gifts with him, promising to return but never again coming to Alaska or fulfilling his obligation to the various clans that had honored him. When cruise ships started coming to Alaska in the mid-twentieth century Seward’s grandson was among the first cruise visitors and he was not pleased by the shame totem. The local chief acknowledged until restitution was made on the riches owed in return, the shame totem would stand. After an inquiry into what it would take to clear his grandfather’s legacy, the amount of restitution required was about two million dollars. The grandson returned to the ship and was never heard from again. The shame totem stands today.

We were dropped off near Ketchi-Candies on our return Trolley trip and went in to get some treats. They were out of the dark bark with almonds, so I settled for cashews. They were out of the peppermints Sharon went back for, but found something else to satisfy her sweet tooth.

We then walked to “The Fish House” and got a seat inside. Sharon again had the Halibut Fish and Chips; while, I had the two hard shell Halibut Tacos. Both were excellent.

Tonight was our scheduled “Promotional” Pinnacle Dinner. It’s great to get a free dinner upgrade; but, not so great when you have no say on when the reservation is for. Not only was tonight’s reservation at the most inconvenient time given the activities and show we wanted to attend, it wasn’t even a “Dinner for Two”. We were going to have to share a table, just like in the main Dining Room. To make matters worse, this was also Formal Night, so we would need to forgo such Formal Night favorites of ours as escargot or chocolate soufflé. We decided to skip the Pinnacle, so I stopped by and let them know we would not be having dinner there tonight. I did enjoy my escargot, artichoke and pumpkin soup and shells stuffed with ricotta. Sharon enjoyed her peppered steak and baked potato. We both enjoyed our chocolate soufflés.

We headed up to the Crow’s Nest for Evening Trivia with Erin at 7PM. Tonight’s subject is “Food and Drink”. The first question began “What Energy drink was first introduced in Thailand?” I think everyone guessed “Red Bull” and I think everyone got that one right. The next question wanted to know a comfort food that was also a singer, and for some reason Sharon came up with “Meatloaf” (he was in a movie with Randy Travis she said). We were two-for-two. I couldn’t come up with the name of the martini served with onion instead of an olive. Gibson is now in my spreadsheet of questions and answers. Erin then asked about “Wild Margarine”, wanting to know what it’s more commonly called, and after she said it a couple times Sharon suggested that she was meaning “Wild Majoram” so I came up with our answer: “(wild) Oregano” which was good enough. “What chain introduced ‘The Blizzard’ (for 1 point) and in what year?” Sharon came up with the obvious: Dairy Queen. I guessed 1984. There are obviously people on this cruise who’d heard this question before because too many came up with “1985” correctly. I knew the first commercially produced cereal: “Shredded Wheat” and was surprised that not many others knew this. Erin then asked “What method of food preservation was first used by the Incas; and, what did they preserve with this technique?” Again, I guessed “Freezing” due to the altitude at which the Incas lived, and Sharon suggested “Corn”. We got the first point, but missed out on “Potatoes”. Ah yes, those blue Peruvian Potatoes. We were one of the few teams to get “What is the most widely eaten fish in the world?”; but, only because we’d had that one before: Herring. The bonus was new however: “A cow gives on average, how many glasses of milk in her lifetime?” My first answer was one million. Sharon said less, and suggested 20,000. If we’d have added a zero to that we would have been spot on! We were with two points of winning; but, someone did get that 4-point bonus question to win.

We went to see the 8PM show “Road House” and the ship’s cast did a great job of bringing this musical home. They really do have great voices.

Afterwards, it was time again for “Majority Rules”. We got an early seat at one of the tables set aside for the game; but, nobody joined us. We got the “Bugs Bunny” (Name a famous Rabbit) and “Baby Bear” (Name one of the three bears). Some people thought that Yogi and Smokey were the other two bears! Sharon pushed for Oesterdam as answer to other HAL ship because we saw it in port today. Should have listened to her; as it never ends up well for me when I don’t but I wrote down Rotterdam so we didn’t get a point. We did learn from the first game we play that most people describe their mother in law as Dead; even though neither of ours are! We did know what a man’s most used phrase is to his wife, “Yes, Dear.” But we missed the woman’s favorite phrase this time. It’s still “No.” We got 10 out of 15 and tied with one other team for first. To my surprise they were offering the Genuine Thick Alaska pins and not the cheaper-looking plastic thin ones that HAL has been offering these past couple of cruises.

On the way back to the cabin Sharon went to say Hello to Bob. He’s still happy to see her but I think he only likes her for her money. Maybe Dennis should run a background check on Bob.

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