28 hours in Juneau. (part one: Ketchikan)

“Hey dude, what’re you doing next weekend?” Jay asked me.
“Uh, just getting ready to move. Why?”
“We were wondering if y’all wanted to go to Alaska or Denver.”
“Totally. Which one?”
“We’re taking a vote.”

No doubt. So we got hooked-up with buddy passes to Alaska. Standby flights, no carry-ons. A lot of airport time. Portland to Seattle to Ketchikan, overnight in Ketchikan, to Wrangell to Petersburg to Juneau. Twenty-eight hours in Juneau, twenty-eight to get there. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything, we had a blast.


Our small band of travelers waited happily in the small airport bar waiting for the next flight north to come in. A few pitchers of beer and a lot of laughs later, it arrived. Despite having ample open seats, we were not permitted to board the flight to Juneau. Inclement weather had forced the plane to take on extra fuel and they were concerned about weight and balance. So we were left to our devices in Ketchikan.

Ketchikan is Alaska’s fourth-largest city (behind Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau). When you arrive in Ketchikan, you’re on the wrong side of a body of water, crossable by ferry (3 bucks each way, 5 same-day round trip). If you arrive at night as we did, I’d recommend not missing it. Just a tip. We weren’t expecting to stay in Ketchikan, but we were ready for anything, so we got on the horn with an inexpensive hotel (the Narrows Inn a bit outside of downtown. And they were great. They shuttled us to the hotel from the ferry, and they shuttled us to downtown. They kept the restaurant and bar open late for us (we wanted to go downtown, so asked that they close it).

Downtown Ketchikan is pretty nice. We settled on Annabelle’s for dinner and decompression. The food was pretty good, but what was most striking was how they server the (halibut) fish and chips. Instead of vinegar, Scott (out gold bow-tie clad waiter) brought a bowl of Frank’s. And it was amazing…tangy and spicy.

Researching local bars, as I’ve been known to do, I’d received raving recommendations for The Sourdough. Conveniently, it’s located right across the street from Annabelle’s (Causation of correlation?). The Sourdough appeared dead. Friday night. Not a car in front or in the lot. With the liquor store ‘facade’ being closed, the place hardly looked open. Road-weary, we persevered, and walked the short hall to the bar. Turning into the place, its popularity had already been broadcast audibly. The Sourdough was packed. A friendly drunk fella leaning against the wall high-fived each of us as we squeezed our way in. I found my way to the bar and picked up a round for my exhausted friends…commendably, the bartender found me almost immediately, and provided very quickly. Libations in hand, we worked our way to the main room and found a place to huddle near the ancient Golden Tee machine. Lively does not begin to describe The Sourdough. This place buzzed and boomed. It was loud, with reunions and laughter, arguments (nearly going to fights), games, it was a different scene then our more sedate Portland bars provide.

We were ready after one drink, and caught a taxi-van back to our hotel. It appears that the entire city travels by cab, as there were very few cars on the road other than service vehicles. And there were several taxis parked on the curb waiting for us. The next morning we woke up early to catch the ferry back to the airport, and got our names back on the standby list. The weather had subsided, so we were allowed onto the plane.

2 Replies to “28 hours in Juneau. (part one: Ketchikan)”

  1. The Sourdough is one of the few old-style bars remaining in Ketchikan. Most of the others have closed in the past decade or so.
    Annabelles has always been a great place for food, I’m glad you found it, tried it, and liked it.

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