Portland and on to Alaska. Wow!

Saturday, August 31, 2013
Portland, Oregon, United States
Caroline was enjoying the flying - or at least wasn't getting sick ;-) - so we opted to forego another US city in Seattle and fly directly to Alaska. That would give us more time for activities there and to get Maggie checked out before the Pacific crossing. Beforehand though I really wanted to check out Portland. I'd heard so much about it and was excited to get a first impression.

Apparently every Saturday is market day in downtown near the river, so that was our destination . We took the MAX light rail first to an impressive steel drawbridge and then walked along the water to the Saturday Market. It was as expected: tie-die, arts & crafts and your token hula hoop "artist". Maggie doesn't exactly allow for many souvenirs, so I'll have to grab the wooden cutting board next time.

Caroline wanted to impress us with Voodoo Donuts but the line was ridiculous at easily more than an hour. As tempting as a donut with bacon sounded, we decided too pass ;-). That basically concluded our Portland tour. Short, but sweet. I could see myself coming to Portland again soon, and spending more QT there.

We anticipated some clouds en route and a descent in clouds at our destination in Alaska, Ketchikan, so filed IFR. As it turned out, the flight was beautiful with very little clouds. The approach into Ketchikan was ridiculously pretty. Here you have a massive long runway on an island separated from the town by ferry-only crossing . Johannes has Maggie down pat at this point and puts her down so enviably smoothly that soon I'm going to have to take lessons from him. Parking Maggie was comical as at first we parked behind a couple Canadian Air Force trainer jets. That was cause for concern. Next we got barked at for towing Mags into the Alaskan Airways ramp. At first I thought the guy was joking, but he really did ask me where my badge was to be crossing into his turf. Finally we found a spot in the dregs by some decrepit old planes where everyone was satisfied we could park. Fr any other general aviation planes, my advice is just to keep heading downhill until you're out of sight. Ten you know you've found the right spot.

Our hotel arranged for a free cab, so after taking the ferry over to the mainland our comical old lady cabbie took us to our cute, dilapidated hotel. This town is surprisingly nice! The main strips are spruced up for the giant cruise ships that pass through here, and there are entirely too many jewelry shops (very odd), but it makes a really cozy impression. We have a few sunset beers and watch the seaplanes fly in and do some people watching. It's hard to believe we're in Alaska!! Alaskan beer is recommendable, especially their Summer Ale.

I looking for a restaurant the three of us stumble upon the salmon spawning river. Crazy! So many fish in the water, so many dead fish floating around. It's dark so we can't see too much, but we're excited to explore that area the following morning.

Looking back it's a great mix of a day. Portland is worth the hype, the views while flying were spectacular, and Alaska is already proving to be amazingly pretty. I feel like the adventure is growing as we move away from the comforts of flying in the 48 states. From here on out it's all uncharted territory...
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