Saturday, May 20, 2006

A-day +12 Side Trip to Skagway, AK

(Editor's note: I wrote this blog two times yesterday and each time there was some error that kept me from successfully getting it published. Finally, I just tried to get the pictures posted and it worked. So now I will try once again to put some words with the pictures. If it doesn't work this time, I trust you will just make up your own stories to go with the pictures. Sometimes, that's what I do.)

Sweety and I took an Alaskan cruise several years ago and our favorite stop was Skagway. It was originally one of the two starting points for miners who were headed north to the Yukon to search for gold in 1897. It is a true gold rush town, once boasting a population of more the 10,000. Today it is a tourist destination with a year-round population of only about 800. During the tourist season, cruise ships bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and many seasonal employees are imported to accomodate the visitors.

Since Whitehorse is only 110 miles from Skagway, we suggested that we thought Doug and Sue would enjoy the odd mix of the funky old Alaska with the cruise ship gauche of modern day Alaska. Skagway has a rich history full of zany characters ("Soapy" Smith), beautiful scenery and old homes. We were thrilled that Doug offered to drive us down for the day.

This is a picture of the main street looking toward the dock. You can see one of the cruise ships. The town was crawling with these nice people.

Sue and I took a walking tour of the city conducted by the US National Park Service. A nice young ranger lead our group of about ten people around town pointing out various points of interest. It was a great tour and FREE! (Well, free if you forget the taxes you and I pay.)

As the tour was ending, Sue and I were walking back down the main street when I looked across one of the side streets and saw an RV being sprayed by a whole bunch of firemen. I said, "I wish I had my camera, this needs to go in the blog!" Sue said, "No, that is too sad. Don't go there." So we went back to the RV to meet Sweety and Doug to go to lunch. When we got there, I told Doug about the apparent fire and the RV and we talked about how that would be. Poor people. There was a huge rush of water coming down the street from where the RV was to the drain in front of the cafe where we ate. When we finished lunch, we got back in our RV and headed up the street from whence came the water. I said, "It looks like that RV was right beside the fire station. How lucky was that?" As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I saw the hand written sign--CAR WASH. Yep, the firemen were having a carwash/barbecue fund raiser right there in the street beside the fire station. How dumb am I? Anyway, I'm glad to say that no RV was burned, no one was injured, and much money was raised.

Another funny thing is that when Sweety and Doug were walking down the street in front of the Red Onion Saloon, a couple of young "dancing girls" from the saloon were visiting with the tourists. One of them asked Sweety if she would like a job at the saloon. She was flatered and amused, but declined the invitation.

We were totally amazed by the drive from Whitehorse to Skagway. Sweety and I had never made the trip as we had arrived by ship last time we were in the city. I promise I have never seen any scenery more beautiful than what we saw here. It was like something out of National Geographic. Or something from a travel brochure for Switzerland. Just unbelievable.

Here we are with the snowcovered valley and mountains behind us. I have another picture of a young lady and her dog out on the snow. He has a harness and is pulling her. Very neat.

In my never ending quest to bring you the best things in the world, I offer the following. We passed a sign beside the road advertising Caribou Crossing and it claimed to possess The World's Largest Bear. So we stopped in and I paid the $7.76(C) just so I could send you this picture of The World's Largest Bear. He is 11 feet long. You people should be paying ME for this stuff.

Finally, I give you a picture from the city of Carcross, YT. Its previous claim to fame is that it was here in 1899 that a golden spike was driven in the railroad to complete the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. This allowed miners to ride up the mountain from Skagway rather than have to carry a ton of food and equipment up. Today the biggest claim to fame is this store which is The Longest Continually Operated Store in the Yukon. Who knew? I went in looking for a bottle opener. All they had were t-shirts.

Tomorrow its back to the good old US.
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