News From The King Ko
Visit By The Golden Bear
fall, we were paid a surprise visit by the Golden Bear. He had diverted
his return flight from China to meet up with Barbara - his wife of 50
years - to partake in a little Bristol Bay drainage flyfishing. It was
a refreshing contrast to an otherwise scandal-ridden year in golf.
Jack, we hope the Tiger falls short in his quest - for decency sake.
Accolades For The Ko
now and then, we take a stroll down the aisles of various Anchorage
bookstores to checkout what the travel books are saying about King
Salmon and Bristol Bay. This year we were pleased to find that the King
Ko's restaurant is now included in the Best Places Alaska (4th Edition)
travel book - the only restaurant in Naknek or King Salmon to receive
Lonely Planet Guide - Alaska 9th Edition describes the King Ko as
comfortable and adjacent to the airport terminal. It offers 16 cabins
with private baths; eight of them also have kitchenettes. The King Ko
is also home to the liveliest bar in town."
The Unofficial Guide To Adventure Travel In Alaska (2nd Edition) says
this about the King Ko:
the place to stay for those who enjoy socializing and meeting fun
people. The King Ko Inn features tidy duplexes nestled in the woods,
complete with small kitchenettes that are functional but not fancy. The
accompanying King Ko Bar is a great nightspot, although it does not
interfere with the peace and quiet of the duplexes. Our personal
always do our best accurately describe our facility and operation to
potential guests without oversell, sometimes the words of independent
journalists say it best and without a taint of bias. While we have
never been introduced to any of these reviewers - they typically come
and depart unannounced - we thank them nonetheless for their kind
letter we recently received from a patron:
Paul and Johnny:
was great and I even would tried out the Jagermeister Ski (amazing). I
realized in the plane thatr I had forgotten to pay for the last round.
As you Paul look like somebody who might forgive but never forget, I
attach 15 Dollars for the Beers. All the best, Max, Lawrence and
you for your honesty, but we really must return your payment. You see,
the heads on your freshly-poured draft beers had not yet wilted when
"Johnny" realized that you had left and snagged them, claiming credit
for buying me one and drinking down the remainder as if it were his
birthright. Please send us a current address and "Johnny" will
certainly reimburse you for your brewskis. What remains if there cannot
be honor among beer drinkers? Come back soon.
Grace Slick's Roots
recently received an email from Chuck & Loretta Erdo from East
Stroudsburg, Pennsylania. In their email they reminisce about their
trip to King Salmon some three years ago:
up to visit with you back in 2007 and we had a great time. We stayed
over at [Brand X] and spent a few nights just sitting on one of your
stools listening to the best juke-box around. ... I have a question
about the "First public performance of 'White Rabbit' by Naknek's own
Grace Slick [reference on our History page]. This can't be true ......
we also spent some time at the Red Dog up in Naknek and never heard a
thing about this one. Anyway, thanks again."
to say, it would be unwise for us to either confirm or deny your
assertion that the Grace Slick entry is the one entry that may be
partially fabricated on our history page. That would either narrow down
the options or, in a worst case, divulge the mystery contained in our
chronology. We would note, however, that the people of Naknek might
better remember Grace as Grace Wing - her maiden name before marrying
Jerry Slick in 1961. Before that time, Grace lived an amazing life,
working as an I. Magnin model in New York (her Mother was a descendent
from the Mayflower) and living on Bristol Bay with her father, a
penned "White Rabbit" in the late 50's or early 60's and performed the
song at the Skytel during that period. The first live performance of
the song in a large venue came some years later in California while
singing with Grace's first band - The Great Society. Once The Great
Society morphed into the Jefferson Airplane, Grace's career took off
and Naknek did not see much of their dear Gracie.
you for your email and kind words. We hope you'll come back to visit us
Ko Is Location For New Romantic Adventure Series
Monica McCabe is writing a new romantic adventure series about Alaska.
All six installments of this series are based upon the author's
experiences while working at the King Ko during the mid-eighties. These
installments are now available on the internet. They are entitled "King Salmon,
Flying Tigers", "Tundra,
Whales & Beavers, Oh My", "King Ko Vice",
Alaska" and "Last
Call At The King Ko Inn". All may be found on the Music City
Romance Writers website. This marks the first time that the words
"romantic" and "King Ko" have every appeared together in the same
sentence. While we cannot confirm (nor deny) the accuracy of Ms.
McCabe's stories - we do agree with her descriptions of the unmatched
beauty and excitement of Alaska. Her tales are all part of the mystique
of doing business for over 50 years in the Alaska bush. We are honored
that she chose to retell her experiences while working at the King Ko -
albeit 23 years after the fact. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens at the
King Ko does eventually get retold - but only in the form of legend
with names withheld to protect the . . . participants.
Call For All Beatles Photos
visitors to our site refuse to believe that the Beatles actually made
their U.S. concert debut in King Salmon at the King Ko (then known as
the Skytel) on February 6, 1964 as stated on our History page. While we
have even attached a copy of the original concert poster for the event,
many visitors have demanded further proof. If anyone happens to have a
photo of the Beatles while they were visiting King Salmon in 1964, we
would sure like to have a copy of the picture to post on our website.
Ideally, the picture will be of the group performing at the Skytel
(remember it was 1964 - the Skytel had not yet been remodeled and
renamed the King Ko), but even if it just places them in Naknek/King
Salmon we may get the naysayers to change their tune. Just email us
your pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them promptly
posted. Your creativity will be appreciated. For your reference, we
have attached a picture of the Skytel,
circa 1950, and the Alaska
Peninsula Highway sign in Naknek from back then. As you may recall,
we took the Beatles on an afternoon tour of Naknek shortly after they
arrived in King Salmon and, during that tour, they visited with Grace
Slick at her home in Naknek.
Polo Pony Confession
been about ten years since we first included a picture of a polo
competition on our Tour page. The picture is captioned "Polo on our
newly seeded field." This picture gained notoriety several years ago
when a guest from a nearby hotel dropped by to visit our polo
facilities and take in a match. She said that she was visiting from
Texas. A couple of years later, another lady - also from Texas -
dropped by for the same purpose.
years we have received numerous employment applications from "cowhands"
who hoped to take care of our polo ponies while working in Alaska.
These applicants were usually from either Montana or Wyoming. Their
inquiries were generally treated lightly by our staff - an inside joke
that not everyone gets. Then came a call from our insurance company
last spring. They were auditing our account and had begun
cross-checking our insurance application against our website. They
noted that our application had not disclosed that we were holding polo
matches on our grounds and that we had failed to disclose a horse barn
on our premises. They questioned whether they could continue to insure
us in light of our failure to disclose such significant risks. At that
point, we realized that our "little joke" could become a big problem.
We later learned that the story of our polo ponies had circulated at a
national insurance convention in NYC last summer. It seems that the
insurance auditor was rather embarassed by the experience.
RECORD (this is the confession part), the polo picture that appears on
our Tour page is meant to be a joke. King Salmon is located at the
north end of the Aleutian Islands - in tundra. It is great grazing land
for caribou and moose. Lichens and berries are plentiful. It is not
desirable land, however, for raising or maintaining polo ponies.
Indeed, the nearest polo pony to King Salmon is probably located
somewhere in British Columbia or south of there - more than 3,000 miles
away. Please do not plan your summer trip to Alaska around watching or
participating in a polo match at the King Ko Inn. You may be the only
spectator or participant, you may end up on the back of a caribou
instead of a polo pony, and you will be uninsured while doing it.
Having said all this, we expect to get at least three more "horse
handler" resumes for the coming season. We will post the resumes for
your enjoyment when they come in. We sincerely hope that this
confession does not undermine the trust that you previously placed in
the King Ko Inn. We feel better now.
last 20 years or so, we have offered a toll-free reservations line to
our customers. Just dial 866-234-FISH (i.e. 866-234-3474) to speak to
us. Unfortunately, last summer the traffic on this line suddenly became
so heavy that many of our customers had trouble getting through. During
this abnormal rush, the bulk of the callers we spoke to had southern
accents and were looking to speak to a Dish Network representative. It
seems that some Atlanta-area marketing genius produced several TV ads
and designed a new paint scheme for all local Dish Network trucks,
encouraging people to call 866-234-DISH (i.e. 866-234-3474) - rather
than 888-234-DISH - for information on or to purchase Dish Network
service. Our complaints to Dish Network initially fell on deaf ears.
Later, however, we finally got their attention by offering the "Dish
Network Escort Service" to every unsuspecting caller rather than
telling them that they had reached a wrong number. We now understand
that all of the incorrect TV ads have been pulled and all of the Dish
Network trucks have been repainted. It has been some time now since we
have had the opportunity to pitch our escort service to an unsuspecting
caller. Our toll-free number is again available to our customers. We
are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
To Alice McPhee !
McPhee recently wrote to us from her home in Port Townsend, Washington,
and enclosed a picture of the Beatles performing at the King Ko (then
known as the Skytel) in February of 1964. She wrote:
hired back in the 60's by the BIA to evaluate educational opportunities
found in Native villages located on the Alaskan Aleutian chain. We ran
into foul weather just outside of Anchorage as I began my first flight
to the Aleutians. By the time we got to King Salmon, the weather was
bad and my trip was stalled for two days while we waited for the
weather to improve. There was nowhere to stay in King Salmon other than
the Skytel - a tar paper old building with a restaurant at one end and
a single room barracks at the other. Having previously retired from the
Snowhomish School District, these accommodations were rather rustic for
me to experience. I figured I would just cover up in my bunk bed at
night and hope that my "roommates" did not realize that there was a
woman sleeping in the same room. I left the Skytel that first evening
to walk around King Salmon and, when I returned, the barracks had been
turned upside down. The bunkbeds were all pushed to one corner and a
makeshift stage had been fashioned out of old pallets in another
corner. The local residents had gathered to watch four strange kids
from Liverpool perform on the makeshift stage. To my amazement, these
were the same four lads who would appear on the Ed Sullivan Show a
couple of days later. Little did I know that, while visiting the
Aleutians, I would be introduced to what soon would be the hottest act
in America. I remember that there was a barracks full of [tipsy]
patrons in the Skytel - the Skytel had no bar but the visitors all
appeared to be drinking something in paper cups - all demanding that
the band play requests such as 'Puff, The Magic Dragon' instead of
'that British s___.' Thirty-three years later, I look back at that
evening as probably the most memorable evening of my life. While I
recall taking 3 or 4 pictures that night, I have found only one to
prove that I was there. Please share this picture with those who doubt
your claim. Yes, Virginia, the Beatles did once perform on stage in
King Salmon. Warmest regards, Alice McPhee"
I Bring A Bathing Suit?"
spring we receive calls from customers wondering whether they should
bring bathing suits for their stay at the King Ko. They note that they
saw a reference on our website that the pool is found at the rear of
the bar. That is true and we do recommend wearing bathing suits when
shooting pool at the rear of the bar. To some, the alternative is to
wear a Budweiser hat duct taped around your loin - an atire that the
local authorities frown upon.
Is Visiting Our Website?
wish that we had better knowledge of our website visitors. For example,
where are they from? Are they in Alaska, the lower 48, or in Europe
(where many of our hotel guests come from)? Well now, with the aid of a
magic little program, we can get that generic information. Check out
the following link for a map showing the last
1,000 surfers who visited our site as of July 3rd of this year.
We'll periodically update the map to show how the distribution of
visitors changes with the seasons