Sunday, August 16, 2009

Alaska: Skagway

One of my very favorite parts of our Alaska trip was our stop in Skagway. A lot of this probably had to do with the fact that it was a beautiful, gorgeous, sunny day which just made the scenery all the more beautiful. In general, the color scheme of Alaska reminded me of the winters here in the Northwest- grey skys and green tree-covered hills - except that in Alaska everything is 10x bigger-- instead of hills they have huge mountains and cliffs. Alaska also shares a trait with the Northwest that while it is pretty in its usual grey/green color scheme, when the sun decides to show its face it is just breathtaking.

We walked around Skagway a little bit and passed the usual slew of jewelry stores (in a teeny 10,000 person town?). Then we went on a shore excursion on the "White Pass Scenic Railway." The train line was built to take people to the Yukon in the gold rush. It was later used for cargo and now is used for tourists. We didn't go all the way to the Yukon-- although we did cross over into Canada (but I didn't get to use my passport). The scenery was absolutely exquisite: the pictures don't even begin to do it justice. There were huge towering snow-covered mountains, waterfalls and rivers, and trees everywhere, all shimmering in the sunlight (you can tell I have lived in the Northwest long enough that sunlight is a prized commodity in my book). =]

Dave and I kept going out on the platform to enjoy the air and the view and I inadvertently discovered why you hold your breath going through a tunnel: if you are out on a train platform, you HAVE to hold your breath when you go through a tunnel if you don't want to inhale smoke and train fumes.

During the trip, they had some narration about the history of the railway and the Yukon gold rush. As we went past a rocky canyon, they explained that in order to cross the border into Canada, a miner had to have a year's worth of supplies with him, so many of them had to go up and down that rocky canyon twenty or even thirty times to transport all of their goods. After enduring horrible hardship and harrowing terrain, the lucky prospector finally made it to Yukon Territory only to find out that all the claims had been staked already. (Note to self: Don't ever join a gold rush.)

After our excursion we walked around Skagway a bit more and bought some souvenirs, fudge and ice cream cones (Isn't it funny how every single tourist site in the universe has a place to buy fudge and ice cream cones? There must be some sight-seeing reflex that triggers a "need fudge... need ice cream" response.). We enjoyed the sun, took some pictures and then went back to the dock.

I took a picture of the ship docked to try to capture how enormous it really is. It holds 2500 people (and kind of looks kind of like the starship Enterprise to me). This picture isn't actually isn't our cruise ship -ours was docked behind it-, but it's one that is the exact same size/model. There were 3 or 4 cruise ships docked in Skagway while we are there... it probably doubled the population. Then it was back to our boat, to enjoy the endless supply of food and activities.

1 comment:

LCM said...

I know I am a total nerd but some of those pictures look like the footage of the Hogwards train!