Day 7 – Dungeness Goodness in Ketchikan AK

When I read about the daily excursions today, only one of them appealed to me – All You Can Eat Crabfest at the George Lodge Inlet. Having a chance to eat fresh local crabmeat was worth the experience.

We started the day off with breakfast with our cousins. They requested in Filipino breakfast, tapsilog. This is a popular Filipino breakfast consisting of marinated chunks of beef, garlic fried rice and a fried egg. In LA, my favorite tapsilog was from the Tapa Boy food truck; unfortunately, they are no longer in business.

Tapsilog is actually an Anglicized word from tapa, sinangag and it log. This garlic fried rice comes in many varieties depending on your preference: tocilog (pork), spamsilog (spam) and sisilog (fried egg) are just a few of them. I’m sure others are simply created by adding “silog” after the word.

Tapsilog Breakfast

The breakfast was a wonderful treat. The tapa had been properly marinated as it was full of flavor. The garlic fried rice was delicious as well. I mixed everything together and thoroughly enjoyed the dish.
My crabfest excursion was two-part; the first was a tour around the island looking at the local wildlife. The second portion was the actual crabfest itself. I wondered if a wildlife excursion was offered in LA, would it feature people watching at Venice Beach?

IMG_0519 - Version 2After the tour bus dropped us off at the front of the George Lodge Inlet, we walked 79 steps from street level down to water level where the restaurant was located. We were pre-warned that we would have to hike back up these same stairs after we consumed our “all you can eat crabfest”.

Our group amounted to about 50 people and we separated into two pleasure boats. After cruising the edge of our island, our pilot slowed down and stopped. We first saw two black bears fighting in the distance. We cruised a bit more and the narrator pointed out that to the port side was a bald eagle’s nest.

2 black bears fighing
2 black bears fighting
Bald eagle picking up the fish
Bald eagle picking up the fish

After one of the crewmembers tossed in a couple of fish into the water, a bald eagle came swooping down to pick up his catch. He missed picking up the fish on his first try and so he had to make his turn and drop towards the water again. This time he was successful and brought his prize back to his nest.

We then cruised to a quiet inlet filled with orange buoys. These were markers were the crab cages were positioned and the pilot parked next to one. One of the young kids volunteered to raise the cage to the surface and lo and behold, it was filled with crabs. The unexpected find was a salmon. The crewman explained that they were only allowed to take anything 6″ and over. Anything else, they had to return to the sea.

The pilot of the boat turned around and we soon returned back to the dock. It was almost 2:00 p.m. and we were all anxious to eat crab. Actually, some had opted out and ordered the chicken or the pasta.

Because they lacked common seating, I was the odd man out. I was fortunate to join a really nice family from Cleveland. I first congratulated them on their big Cavs win. Because of their deep knowledge of baseball, the conversation quickly turned to that. The two kids, Angel and Zack were about 7 and 9 and were a delight. They both said “we don’t like crab, we love crab”. I just knew we were going to have a great time.

They announced that each table would be entered into a crab shell stacking contest. The father quickly pronounced that “we got this hands down” and the race was on. As expected both kids didn’t eat their salads and the Dungeness crabs were served from a huge mixing bowl.

The conversation was minimal as between our built-up hunger and the fact that we were anxious to win only caused us to hurriedly peel our prized meat. Until I had this crab meat, Alaskan king crab legs were my favorite. I felt that the Dungeness is actually sweeter and more moist that its Alaskan cousin.

Midway through our meal, the servers took halftime measurements of our crab shell stack. At 7” high, we were quite proud of our accomplishment, but when we started hearing higher numbers like 10”, I felt there was no way we would have a snowball’s chance in winning the competition.

The mom said the server said “the winning stack must have a crab shell on top”. The dad quickly took the plastic straw out of his drink, shored up the top of our crab stack, mounted the straw vertically and stuffed a crab shell on the top of our stack. The mom got us even more height by taking her empty beer glass, flipping it upside down and using it as a stand for our plate.

Our server said that we would have to be done with our meal in 15 minutes. Of course, that meant having another serving of crabs. She picked out one with a large apron which is the sweetest part of the crab. Soon thereafter the announcement was made that they were going to do their final measurements. We panicked because our straw just fell down and the dad was having trouble remounting it. Fortunately it was fixed just in time and we measured out at 24” high – the winner of the day!

Crab temporarily fell off the straw

img_0530-1I wanted to say, “What did they win Jack Pardo?” This is was a well-known ending to a popular TV game show. We had to stand up, move to the front of the restaurant and face the audience. We were asked to move our hands like crab pinchers and do a jig. We all had a fun time dancing to the music and if we would have known this was our prize, I don’t think we would have worked so hard to win.

Dessert was cheesecake with Alaskan blueberries and a blueberry sauce.

All in all, a fun day! It was too bad the rest of my family didn’t join me. Of course, that is probably what they are saying about paddling in their kayak.













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