Monday, September 19, 2011
Kake and Ice Cream
We were still trying to get south, and the weather wasn't looking good for rounding Cape Decision, so we thought we might try to sneak through Rocky Pass and get into Sumner Strait. We were also low on water and decided we would stop in to the village of Kake to get some fuel and refill our water tanks. The communities in Southeast Alaska seem to belong to one of three categories: Towns, with a population in the thousands and most modern amenities; villages, with smaller populations, in many cases predominantly native people, and limited facilities; and what I would call outposts, places with a dock, but not necessarily having community power, treated water, or food and/or fuel for sale. Kake falls into the village category, having a ferry terminal and airport but very limited supplies and a mostly native population. When we stopped, most of the town was shut down for a funeral, but luckily there was still someone at the fuel dock so our detour was not wasted. We reassessed our fuel plan when we were told the price, more than $6 per gallon, the highest we had seen this year, and just bought enough to get us to the next stop. After thinking through our options for the night, we decided to stay at the marina to give us a chance to look around town and when the store reopened the next day we could get some cooking supplies we needed. The cell phone reception was frustratingly spotty in the marina, but we did manage to get in a couple calls to check in with family, and we found internet access at high tide so we could check email. The next day we walked in to the store in the early afternoon and found the prices for food were comparable to fuel, very high, and bought only a few items. Strangely, their price on Ben and Jerry's pints was the best we had found in Alaska, so at least I was going to get ice cream for my trouble. On our way back to the marina, a couple stopped and offered us a ride, and after finding out we were visiting by boat they gave us a quick driving tour of the town. Our observations and their explanations confirmed that this is a very poor community, with almost no local industry, and most of the population survives only through government help. Nicole and I both found that the people seemed friendly and nice, but the overall feel was pretty bleak and depressing. With many of the other communities in the area having at least something positive to offer visitors, I don't have any reason to recommend others to stop in Kake.