Thursday, October 4, 2012

Alaska - Skagway - Day 5

Wednesday, September 5, 2012:  Welcome to Skagway, AK - it was the most North and East I ventured during the trip.  I was scheduled to ride a motor coach nearly 70 miles into the Yukon Territory of Canada, have lunch, and hop onto one of the most scenic trains in all the land: The White Pass Railway.

First up was Blake, our motor coach driver / photographer / singer / musician / comedian / advice giver.  Let's just say, 'he kept us entertained.'  I was amazed at how many people show up in these towns to work cruise ship tourists and then go back to where ever they came from during the winter.  Blake was from Bellingham, WA via Las Vegas.

Since Blake was partly photographer, he appreciated the fact that several of us wanted to stop as often as possible for photo opps.  This is one of my favorite stops - to see the train cross over the waterfall.

We saw several white dots on the mountainside, which we were told were mountain goats.  We caught a brief glimpse of the world's smallest dessert.  The sand was created when glaciers moved across the rocks. 

Another stop for photography brought us Emerald Lake.  It got its name from the color(s) of the water. I've never seen multiple shades of green when it wasn't from bacteria (thank you Lake Erie.)  This was supposedly glacier-fed water.  It was gorgeous!

We went through Canadian Customs - Blake had warned us about the Officers.  He wasn't lyin'.  Apparently, passports are supposed to be signed, but no one told me that.  Well no one until the Customs Officer..holy crap.  She scared me.  I was treated to a close encounter with 'said Officer.'  "Someone give this lady a pen." she said in her manly voice.  :)  Phew..I narrowly escaped Canadian jail I do believe.

Next up was our lunch destination at Carcross, YT.  The area was a hot bed of gold miners back in the day.  Now-a-days it's used as a tourist stop complete with gift shop and museum.  Here's my favorite museum photo:

This location also hosted an Iditarod Camp for dogs, a mule, old man, covered wagons, fake goats on the mountain, and a gift shop. Did I mention they had a gift shop? 

Here's an interesting shot that you don't see everyday:
After a BBQ lunch, we headed into the little town of Carcross.  We circled the block in the motor coach in about 45 seconds. 'Small town' doesn't even begin to describe this area, but it had everything you could ever need: post office, general store, tannery, taxidermist, fishing, blacksmith, and what appeared to be a 'bordello' of sorts - oh, and a gift shop. (I don't believe the last two are connected, but I can't be sure.)

whoa - don't lean out too far!
Next up: The White Pass Railway.  I had read that the best place to be on the train was the little platform between the cars, and to be prepared for cold temperatures.  So, I bundled up and headed outside.  It was cold (!) and I missed all the stories/details that came across the speakers, but was pleased with the clear photographs from the platform.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Once Blake picked us up from the train depot, we headed back towards the ship.  On the way back, we made an extra stop so we could photograph some clouds that had moved in.  Blake said he had never seen the clouds look this way.  It was pretty cool.  Here's what we saw:
The excursions for the day left no time to explore the town of Skagway. It seemed a bit interesting, so perhaps a return visit someday.

So, back to the ship for a hot shower!  I ventured out this evening to see a show on the ship. It was an 80's tribute to Rock.  Pretty cool I must say: Foreigner, Led Zepplin, and many others represented. The downside was having those songs stuck in my head. :)

On the way back to my cabin, a cruise employee stepped into the elevator.  She asked if I minded waiting for a slow gentleman to make his way to the elevator.  The man was frustrated because each time he saw an elevator door open, he would move towards it, but the door would close before he could get there because he was so slow.  Apparently, he had been trying to make an elevator for several minutes.  So the chipper little man entered, and said, "Will you show me where to get some dinner? I've accidentally gotten a little drunk and need to eat."  Ha..this man cracked me up.  He wasn't sloppy drunk, but the tipsy-ness combined with the slow movements (and the boat swaying) - oh goodness - what a hoot.  I stayed on the elevator with him until he reached the dining room.  He thanked me and went on his slow, little way.  (I saw him again - stay tuned!)

The following day was slotted to be 'at sea.'  I was thankful for a day off after three full days of excursioning - I was whooped.  It also dawned on me that we had reached the turning-around point of the trip.  It was a disappointing reality.  Aside from the sea legs, I was really enjoying the vacationing lifestyle via cruising.  I also met a couple who were making the same journey the following week (two back-to-back cruises.)  Ah..the life.

Here are some miscellaneous photos from Skagway:

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