But it's so much more than that---the city really focused on maintaining it's natural beauty and local feel. Their downtown shops are locally owned, and open all year. There is no Walmart, or anything remotely like it. So the locals buy their goods and clothing from the small local shops ON PURPOSE to keep them open, even if it costs a little more.
The city didn't cover it's waterfront with industrial buildings, malls, grocery stores and hotels. It left it open with parks and walkways along the ENTIRE downtown area. The restaurants and bars are nice, the businesses really focus on being clean and unique. And there is so much more offered to the locals! An entire fine arts camp in the summer ranging from the youngest children to adults. Every kind of yoga and exercise class you could imagine. And a huge list of classes offered at their UAS campus, from Tlingit to coastal art.
Come on...they're just trying to tempt me now.
But here was the biggest kicker...every one I talked to who had lived in both Ketchikan and Sitka said the same thing...they L-O-V-E-D Sitka, and they thought Ketchikan just felt dark, dingy and industrial. Dark---check, dingy-check check, industrial-triple check.
Wait, did I mention that all the houses downtown were painted nicely with clean and manicured lawns? Or that there is free city-wide wifi? Or that they have an aquarium doing legitimate research and sharing their knowledge with the public? (on an interesting side note I spoke with the ladies running the aquarium, and they mentioned that Ketchikan shut down the idea of an aquarium because local business owners were afraid that it would cut down on the cruise patrons purchasing their tours) Why on earth are we allowing private business to make decisions that aren't in the best interest for Ketchikan as a whole? (like shutting down the bookstore at Totem Bight because the private
Sigh. It is what it is, and we live in Ketchikan, not Sitka. I just always assumed that K-town was the way it was because it was an isolated island community in the rainiest place in North America. But now I see that it's just Ketchikan. I don't know what makes the people of one community so different than another, and I wouldn't know where to begin trying to change it...but I see now the possibilities, and that vision is hard to shake.
We had a great time, and despite the veil of dinginess that welcomed us upon reentering the city, I am glad to be home. It's still home, it's where my friends are. It's where our life is. But the spell is broken now, and I see what Ketchikan could be.