Travelog of Ketchikan-Alaska, 2011

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Domination of Eiler Journal #24: Autumn Offensive against Alaska!
November 2011

Background. Alaska has finally come within range of the regular operations of the Domination of Eiler! And it is actually a Domination tradition to go north in November, even if the force is already north.

So: City of Ketchikan! Gateway to Alaska, longstanding goal of Dominance! Home of totem poles, Domination fiction, and the almost-existent Bridge to Nowhere made famous by Sarah Palin! Prepare to submit - by ferry and bicycle!

What Is the Domination of Eiler?

In one sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a political entity modeled upon the Holy Roman Empire. Which is to say, it works through national and local political entities, but transcends nation-state boundaries. You may already be a citizen without knowing it!

In another sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a pen name for an amateur but very prolific web journalist. Perhaps you may enjoy these travel writings, given this simple guide:

  • The Domination of Eiler is led by, of course, the Dominator.
  • The Domination has recently established its world headquarters in Bothell-Washington, and is actively expanding its holdings nearby. Even unto Alaska!

  • The trip will take just under seven days. Because it involves a small town, a ferry ride, and nothing else, some days may be boring. But every day has something. So, the Domination journal standard of daily entries will still be observed.

    Day 0: Friday 11 November 2011

    Bellingham and the Ferry
    The offensive begins.
    The Boat to Alaska
    Alaska boats have heated outdoor seating and the occasional moonrise. See also:
  • Bellingham Beer Selection
  • The Domination of Eiler is so intricately involved in phone company operations now, its engineering force dialed into an 8 am conference and gave a demo... Admittedly there are worse ways to start a vacation. This way got the Domination's expeditionary force ready to roll early. Friends were duly notified, the Domination observance of 11/11/11 11:11:11 would be in motion toward Alaska!

    Alaska got a legendary blizzard this week. A fraction of this storm moved south toward the District of Dominance as the expedition moved north to the Bellingham ferry terminal. How fitting. So, heavy rain on the drive.

    The prize of early motion (besides avoiding the rain while packing) was the city of Bellingham, southern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System. In Bellingham the Boundary Bay Brewery submitted, and so did a comic book shop, but the Whatcom County History Museum barricaded itself for Veterans Day. It's a good target for next Friday on the way back, if spending the day in Bellingham; typical hours 1 to 5 pm. Bellingham seems worth an extra day of vacation, just due to maritime hippie atmosphere - but only if bicycle weather. The city is not friendly to cars.

    The Archer Ale House served as ferry terminal bar, complete with "slider" sandwiches made of duck washed down with draft Chimay trappist abbey ale. Oh, is this the ferry terminal to Belgium?

    The boat itself is fine. The main amenities are cafeteria and lounge, all full of real Alaskans this time of year, and one other tourist from the armed forces in Alabama. Alaska says hello, and yes, Up North is great this time of year.

    The Alaska Marine Highway System is proud of its solariums: an open-air chamber with heat lamps. One really could sleep there with a sleeping bag, if one loves November enough. Others sleep in passenger chairs. But the Domination has a stateroom instead. Good investment.

    The boat observes Alaska time, so the Domination gets an extra hour this very night! But admittedly the schedule is loose on board. Dessert in cafeteria sounds good soon... after distant but spectacular night views of Vancouver and Whistler Mountain.

    Day 1: Saturday 12 November 2011

    The day on board.
    Solarium Daytime
    One supposes yellow glass makes it looks sunny. See also:
  • Stop on the Inside Passage
  • Highlight of this day was three hours on two patches of rough sea, because the Inside Passage to Alaska isn't quite all sheltered by islands. Bed was awfully comfortable both those times. Saturday in the Domination is often a day of rest; a ferry ride is as good a place to do that as any. For other essentials, the ferry does have both food and beer, just not in the same place. But good enough.

    Day 2: Sunday 13 November 2011

    Beachhead Ketchikan
    The Domination of Eiler comes to Alaska.
    The Waterfront
    Ketchikan from the water, at what passes for sunrise. See also:
  • Downtown: Snow Altitude 200 Feet
  • The day started way too early: more rough sea at 3 am (all the natives knew to expect that), and ferry landing scheduled for 7 am. But since Saturday was a day of rest, the Domination was ready.

    Two miles from ferry landing to downtown, through a mostly working-class waterfront, with rain/snow, on bicycle, carrying full luggage because the Ketchikan ferry terminal has no lockers, and uphill at the end. That was about the longest two miles in Domination history.

    Lodgings previously arranged at Cape Fox Lodge, fanciest hotel in town. Spent seven hours (so far) waiting for the Domination-grade room, because weekend guests clung on to their waterfront views even after checkout time. The Domination shall remember this when its own checkout time comes. Still, that gave time for breakfast, church, lobby cyber-integration with hotel systems, and Sunday dinner.

    • Reindeer sausage omelet for breakfast in hotel restaurant. Venue is favored by at least one howler monkey clan, at least on Sunday. Future breakfasts might come from the diner down hill which serves reindeer steaks.
    • Merchants and museums of Ketchikan are shut down for Sunday morning. Taverns are an option, because in this time zone NFL football starts at 9 am. (At 3 pm one may hear the phrase "For those of you expecting to see 60 Minutes...") Still, taverns were bypassed in favor of a walking patrol.
    • The Domination of Eiler welcomes the Episcopal Church of St. John of Ketchikan-Alaska, and vice versa. Pioneers founded that church in 1903, so it counts as a historical attraction. And being welcomed to town is an awesome way to start a vacation patrol. Being welcomed into Alaska is almost like being welcomed into Heaven. But still, skipping the public tuna casserole dinner at 3 pm.
    • The Domination was not sure its computer systems would play nicely with Alaskan networks. The Conquering Cell Phone doesn't much like the phone network here, but the "Thunder Child" traveling computer eventually worked with the hotel Wi-Fi. So, full online capability is established, including photo transfer because Thunder Child and the latest model Conquering Cell Phone work together as never before. Didn't comment on various stuff to the usual extent, but still caught up with important public opinion on whether writing stories is fun and whether college football should be banned because Joe Paterno might be a pederast-enabler. (To future generations: Don't even ask, at least not about Paterno. It's not worth it.)
    • Sunday dinner at Annabelle's Keg and Chowder House, where paradoxically steak salad is much cheaper than halibut salad. It's kind of like how beef is cheap in India.

    The weather is welcoming the Domination of Eiler to Alaska in its own way. It shifts among fog, rain, snow, and partly cloudy every fifteen to thirty minutes. U.S. government has NEXRAD weather radar through most of southern Alaska, but they don't even try to keep up with Ketchikan.

    Scenery is also welcoming. The town and its waterways are surrounded by mountains, in a way not even Montana can claim. The hotel is about eighty feet above sea level, and the snow level is about eighty feet above that... So far, windows have been the best way to view this. Scenery patrol tomorrow. Hotel patrol tonight. Alaska cable TV, prepare to submit!

    Day 3: Monday 14 November 2011

    Invasion Zone Ketchikan
    The Domination of Eiler subjugates totems and snow.
    The view from the hotel room. See also:
  • Totem Heritage Center
  • The season's first snow has come. This does not necessarily stop the Domination's bike patrol, but today might be a walking day.

    ... Well, walking is pretty useless, at least around town. The tourist bureau estimates that only 15% of the town is open for business. (That's about how much of the town seems to be foreclosed or condemned.) For all practical purposes, 15% equals one diner, one fancy little book store, one thrift store specializing in computers with the hard drives removed, two gift shops which sell tacky earrings, two sporting goods stores (already conquered), two full-service restaurants (already conquered), and six taverns where men mostly just sit, drink, and stink. So yes, Alaska is like Maine or Wisconsin in November, only more so.

    All is not lost, of course. The Totem Heritage Center is an easy walk from hotel, and open this afternoon. An Alaska stick has been harvested from the hotel parking lot, to assist in the walk.

    • There it was revealed, real totems were meant to be disposable. How could they not be, when it rains all the time and cedar wood decomposes so quickly?
    • Most photogenic totems were actually built during the Great Depression as a job-creation scheme. Thanks to certain preservative substances know to the white man, these totems abide. Native carvers credit their modern-day skills to them.

    Recreation in the room looks bleak, for the "Thunder Child" computer has crapped out. Its system restore drive was considered important enough to not bring along and drop out of a bag somewhere. The Conquering Cell Phone has assumed journalling duties, but it doesn't lend itself to full-scale web development. Fortunately the new Stick of Alaska lends itself to full-scale carving.

    Tonight, downtown Ketchikan gets one more chance for dinner. Or at least Monday night football social hour at a nice dark tavern.

    Day 4: Tuesday 15 November 2011

    Real Ketchikan
    Domination sinks in.
    Ancient artifacts from the Great Depression. See also:
  • Totem Team-Up
  • Beach vs. Driftwood
  • In Alaska, the Dollar Store Costs $1.29
  • Sunset, 3 PM
  • Bowel Movements Are Beautiful And Natural, Right?
  • Bike day is finally here! The Saxman Totem Park thereby submitted photogenic totems. A nearby Rotary club park submitted scenic waterfront. One more full-service restaurant submitted lunch. It was twelve miles of riding, which would be unspectacular except it happened in a trenchcoat.

    The Tongass Historical Museum also submitted... Ancient artifacts, check. Local photos, check. Local history, zero. How odd. But plaques around town actually do that job, which probably suits the cruise ship traffic better.

    Under prolonged occupation Ketchikan is showing its human face, which the tourists usually don't see...

    • More stores were open today. Some mammoth ivory earrings were therefore conquered. They came from anywhere within Alaska and/or the Yukon, which is at least more local than the cheap Chinese earrings some other places have.
    • In the local shopping mall, about half the storefronts are open for retail, which beats downtown. Sears mostly does mail order, which is historically appropriate; its retail branch is about the size of the hair salon across the way. And the dollar store costs $1.29. Really.
    • Ketchikan may not have a homeless problem, but it does have a homeless shelter for most of the year. (In the summer, they rent those bunks out as hostels.) And it doesn't have an Occupy movement, but it does have sanitation issues... The back entrance of the fancy hotel is a tramway. Today its outdoor lobby had a nice big turd laid down in it, plus napkins used to wipe ass. Hey, bowel movements are as natural as children and should go everywhere people do, right?

    Tomorrow afternoon is Extraction Day. So tonight is social hour plus the Final Spectacle dinner. The diner which advertises reindeer steak would have been an obvious choice if only it served beverages finer than Pepsi. Instead Annabelle's from Sunday (and Monday) will submit finest crab and halibut. For some reason halibut is even more respected than salmon here, even though the high school names itself after king salmon. (A Ketchikan Kings T-shirt has already been conquered.)

    Day 5: Wednesday 16 November 2011

    Extraction Day

    Extraction mostly without incident.

    • Ferry at 3 pm; checkin at 2. Thanks to the One Maker it wasn't 6 pm. Hotel is kind enough to allow noon checkout. Its lounge filled the difference.
    • Heavy rain all day... but hotel van was kind enough to provide transport for the entire expeditionary force including bicycle. Alaska State Marine Highway in turn was kind enough not to cancel transport when hotel van was slightly late for checkin. And the ferry was waiting! On board shortly after 2 pm.

    The expedition is on automatic. Probably going straight home from Bellingham, to tend to the broken computer. (The computer joined Domination in Tennessee, and has malfunctioned every time it spent four days north of the Canadian border. It must be secretly Southern.) Without its computer for amusement, the Domination is reduced to its cell phone, woodcarving, three cheap novels, and lots of paper to draw a Powernaut comic strip on. Wouldn't that surprise everyone.

    Day 6: Thursday 17 November 2011

    Ferry Day
    Sunsets and sociability.
    Ferry Sunset
    One last sunset among islands. See also:
  • Ocean Crossing View
  • Full day on boat. Cross-sampled humanity.

    Spent most of the day reading "Ice Reich", lurid historical fiction whose name practically says all. But it does involve lots of sea action on cold waters. Therefore left this book at Alaska ferry ship's book exchange. Took modern Western historical fiction "War Cry" in exchange. Skipped to end. Practically same story as Ice Reich, with Oklahoma and Cheyennes in place of Antarctica and Nazis. Quickly donated "War Cry" back.

    One family from the Yukon was camping out on the sun deck. The daughter had transformed a platform and several piles of lounge chairs into Rainbow Pony Play Land. All adults present agreed, this was more fun than the ferry's own playland.

    One e-bookish young lady in the bar was traveling to her husband and daughter, home from military mission in Anchorage. As often happens in bars, people compared cell phones. Hers had survived jumping out of planes. She won.

    ... Well then. Now let the commentary end.

    This vacation has delivered these major signs of success: new lands, a new stick and other trophies, historical attractions almost every day on the ground, and lots of scenery. All Hail the Domination!

    The Domination of Eiler believes in free sharing of information. But if you wish to reproduce significant parts of the commentary within, be aware that it is © copyright 2011 by Eiler Technical Enterprises. And have a niiiice daay.