Thursday, June 01, 2017

Alaskan Cruise: Day 6--Skagway

The rain ended overnight and morning found us docked at Skagway, one of Terry’s favorite towns. We boarded the White Pass & Yukon Railway cars right on the dock and settled in for a nice scenic ride along the route followed by many a gold seeking miner back in 1898. The train takes 3 to 3 and a half hours to climb the 2,865 feet to the White Pass summit along a 20 mile route carved out of the mountain side. A railroad designed to make it easier to haul the one ton of goods each miner was required by the RCMP to have with him as he crossed into the Yukon. A railroad that was completed just as the gold rush was ending. 
Me aboard the White Pass & Yukon Railroad.

View from the train window.

One of the many waterfalls feeding the Skagway River.

Skagway River with the Klondike Highway in the background.

Steam locomotive left ahead of us heading to Carcross in the Yukon.

Some tight curves allow you to see the ends of the train.

Another view of the Skagway River (center foreground), the rail line (on the mountain to the left) and the Klondike Highway (the cut in the middle)

Entering one of the two tunnels along the route.

Old cantilevered trestle that's no longer in use. Once the longest in the world.

Heading up to the pass.

George enjoyed the train ride!
US Customs building on the Klondike Highway.
 The customs building is actually 8 or so miles into Alaska and not on the border. Why? That's where they could put it on the steep terrain. And the "graffiti" has nothing to do with President Buchanan but rather was first painted in the depression by a group of boys whose trip to Alaska and western Canada was partially sponsored by businessman George Buchanan from Detroit. (See here for more.)

The rocks along the dock also host many pieces of "graffiti."
 Traditionally, crews from the cruise ships visiting Skagway paint their company logo, ship name and often their captain's name on the rocks next to the dock. Someone made use of the natural rock structure and a little white paint to put a skull up there, too.

The steam train returned to town shortly after we did.
Upon finishing our ride and returning to the dock, Terry and I set off for town to find some lunch and do some shopping. Having been here before in 2010, we had an idea of what was waiting for us and had already visited most of the historic sites in town so we just strolled through the shops. Unfortunately, the place we got king crab legs back in 2010 was gone so we settled for a nice little meal at the Sweet Tooth Café on Broadway that included halibut and a delicious cream puff. 

I really enjoy looking at the buildings and their interesting and varied architecture.

Town hall and museum.

There's a Harley dealer in town!

Love the turret on the corner.

Looks like it may  have been a saloon at one time.

More totem poles along the side street.

Onion dome in the background (great colors) and the Sweet Tooth Cafe in the foreground.

This lodge building is entirely covered with twigs.

Terry had her eye on some quartz/gold jewelry and we got a deal on a ring and pendant at one of the many shops on Broadway. The final price was about what was being asked for the ring alone. (NEVER pay the asking price at these places. Never.)

Old steam engine.

Railroad snow thrower.

On the trail. Tlingit guide with gold seeker.
Brian had a surprise for Vicky. He had arranged for her to go on an excursion on her own to play with some sled dogs—on top of a glacier—accessible by a short helicopter ride. Vicky had a surprise for Brian: she hates helicopters and spent her years in the Air Force doing everything she could to avoid them! She gulped a few times but got on the bird anyway. Anything to play with the puppies! Now she wants to adopt a retired sled dog.

One of the many helicopters ferrying folks to the top of the nearby glaciers to enjoy some hiking, snowshoeing or dog sledding.
 We all enjoyed a nice meal aboard the Radiance before retiring to one of the many lounges for a refreshing drink.

Tomorrow we would be visiting the modern day capitol of Alaska: Juneau.

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