We awoke on Day #4 of our Alaska cruise in the small, seaside port of Skagway...a mighty huge ship in a tiny little dock.
Skagway is a quaint little fishing village for nine months out of the year, that in recent years the cruise ships have made into a tourist stop during the summer. Despite the crowds and inevitable souvenir shops, it's been able to retain its charm.
The Arctic Brotherhood building, built in 1899, is the most photographed building in Alaska and its facade is covered with over 8000 pieces of driftwood. Very cool!
Not a lot to do in this sleepy little town, especially very early on a Sunday morning...
Every building in town has been maintained as authentically as possible, including the wooden sidewalks along the street. Skagway was the gathering place for 100,000 gold-rushers back in the late 1890's, the gateway to the Klondike area of Canada's Yukon Territory.
Some of our peeps disembarked the ship and boarded the White Pass Railroad for a train trip alongside the Klondike Highway. Beautiful scenery ahead!!!
Kenny, Zach, Emily, Kim, and I opted for a personal day-long tour in a 4x4, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
See that train overpass at the top of the photo? Yep...that's the White Pass railroad. It paralleled our Klondike Highway route for many miles.
Prepare yourselves for lots of gorgeous landscape pictures! Around every turn in the highway, another breath-taking, postcard-worthy view!!!
The fun thing about getting away from the crowds and having our own personal guide all day is that we really got to know her, and she stopped when we wanted to stop. Our gal was an independent 30-something, a finance grad from Wisconsin (she's still a rabid Cheesehead!) who worked in corporate America for a few years before leaving it all behind for the wilds of Alaska. Her mother was horrified at her decision, but felt better when she found out that the men to women ratio in Alaska is 9:1 (I don't know if that's true or not, but I've heard it said....), hoping that her daughter might find a husband.
She wasn't looking for a man, however, and she says those odds are deceiving, having discovered through personal experience... "If the odds are good, the "goods" are "odd." Ha, ha! So she's happily living her single life as a full-time resident of Skagway, cozy in her 120 (no, I didn't leave off a zero...we saw her TINY abode!) square foot home in town. Interesting gal, she is!
Anyway, I tell you all that to help you understand her quirkiness, which includes a pet peeve of hers. See the little rock stacks on those front rocks that look like people?
She hates them. Apparently when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, these little rock people became an icon for the Olympics. Since then, people have been adding them to the landscape at parks all over the country...much to the chagrin of our tour guide and others. She claims because they are not a natural configuration, they scare wildlife and taint the landscapes.
While she grudgingly "allows" the ones at this particular location, she has made it her personal mission to spend her free time tearing down others that she calls "outliers." All along our day's journey, she made mental note of new outliers to destroy.
Like I said...interesting gal....
This is the terrain the gold-rushers had to traverse before ever even making it to the mountains. They found it better to actually wait until winter, when (although brutally cold!) this was snow-covered and much less dangerous for man and beast to cross.
Rail station at Fraser, Alaska...this is where the train turned around, but we kept going farther north....
The lovely pinkish-purple wildflowers you see everywhere in Alaska are called fireweed...so pretty!
So many breath-taking vistas...it's hard to choose which photos to show you!!!
Can anyone spot the Dall sheep on the mountainside???
Me neither...until our guide pointed out the white dot pretty much in the middle of the photo is the back-end of a sheep. They are generally so high up it is difficult to see them well...and this was with my big zoom lens!
Our group as we entered The Yukon Territory....
We stopped for lunch in the fun little town of Carcross, shortened from its original name of Caribou Crossing.
We had delicious sandwiches and fresh fish and chips at the only diner in town...
Isn't this the cutest parsonage you've ever seen?!
The train station...yes, the train is a much-used method of transportation for the locals...
The smallest cabin in town is literally no taller than 6 feet at the peak. The man who built it (who was well over 6 feet tall) could not stand up inside, but just wanted a place where he could stoke his stove without getting out of bed. But what a magnificent view he had!!!
Our guide with Emily and Kim, looking out across Bennett Lake...
...and its beach below. Yes, the water is a tad bit on the FRIGID side!!!
Carcross is mostly made up of Tagish First Nation people, with a few businesses, a couple of churches, and interesting houses all intermingled into no sort of order at all. This is the home of Carcross's unofficial busy-body Miss Bea, who apparently knows everybody's business in Carcross. She must not have been home at the time...otherwise, our guide told us she would have made a Bea-line (pun intended...how clever is that?!) to us to see what we were up to. All those flowers decorating her house are plastic and silk...Miss Bea says she has no time to take care of flowers! Wish we could have met her...I'm sure she would have made us smile!
Alas, it was time to get back in our vehicle and continue farther north.
More tomorrow from our time...
...into The Yukon.