Coming Home to Ketchikan, Alaska

This is the third time I've returned home to Ketchikan for the summer after a school year of college. Depending on my plans for next summer after I graduate, this might be the last time I do that. I came home nearly a week ago, and this is the beautiful scene I was welcomed with:

View from the airport ferry while in the middle of Tongass Narrows
Needless to say, I'm very glad to be back. I missed being here in the summer and I know I have a lot of good times to look forward to.

This summer will be similar to the two before it - living at my parents' house, generally switching days back and forth to spend the evening with my girlfriend either at her house or at mine. It gets a little tiring that we've been together over three years now and we still have the same paradigm of not living together and having to commute - but all the same, we only have one more year to wait.

The Totem Heritage Center
Unlike the past two summers, where I worked in two bookstores run by the non-profit Alaska Geographic, this summer I got a job working for the City of Ketchikan - at the Totem Heritage Center. This is a museum I've had a connection to from a young age, since I went to a Native culture camp there during a couple of summers of my pre-teen years. Now I'm a tour guide there, alternately taking the entry fees from tourists and giving visitors presentations about the totem poles there.

I pensively eat smoked
salmon bagel on break.
With four days of work down so far, it's been pretty calm and enjoyable work. All of our traffic has been walk-ins, although apparently some organized tours might come by, once in a blue moon. (I expect everything will get busier within the next few weeks.) Certain times have been slow with very few visitors coming to the museum, allowing me to do some reading and relaxing, but I really enjoy the busy times with lots of people milling about, all with potential questions for me to answer.

Poles inside the Center -
guess which animal
is the "dinosaur."
I relish hearing good questions from people, where I get to share knowledge about unique aspects of Native Alaskan history, culture and art. Some questions inevitably pop up again and again, like how old the poles are, (100-150 years old), what kind of wood they are, (Western Red Cedar), and what the animal is at the top of the pole second from the right (a bear, though some people think it looks like a dinosaur). Those dinosaur comments are probably the ones I dread the most... Give me a break!

All in all, though, I really have a great job and a great opportunity to interact with tourists and visitors while explaining some of the history that I love about my home. I know I'll always feel connected to this place - the rainy forest I grew up in - even if I moved to the other side of the planet (which is approximately Madagascar). I'll always be an Alaskan, too - one who loves hiking, fishing, hunting, and telling tourists about totem poles.

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