cruise alaska day 06: skagway

Woke up early for 7am arrival. Breakfast was cream of wheat, bacon, egg and baked apple. At dockside by 7.30am to wait for our tour bus to arrive. I’d booked the Emerald Lake bus tour with Dyea Dave Tours, another local company. Our driver Saskia arrived at 7.45am as promised, and there were 12 of us in the bus, the small group (and lower price) another advantage of booking independently.

skag016railway skag031welcome

We drove up the Yukon highway in fairly overcast weather, stopping at various points to see waterfalls or valley views. The biggest draw for Skagway is the White Pass & Yukon Route train and the bus route mirrors the train tracks on the same side or opposite side of the valley, with the advantage that we could stop whenever we wanted. The train ride itself was of course a draw, but well, it’s a train, we’ve been on the Flamsbahn so we weren’t bothered. After about an hour we got to the top of White Pass and the welcome to Alaska sign. Beyond that was the Yukon and Canada. The customs post was at Fraser, and we all held up our passports while the agent walked through the bus to check, the process took only a few minutes although there was a wait while we waited in line.

skag055railway skag061tutshi
skag071desert skag088emerald

Past Fraser we had a pitstop along the Chilkoot trail, a stop at Lake Tutshi, Carcross desert and then finally reaching our destination Emerald Lake. So pretty, the weather had cleared out and we could see the green of the lake clearly, caused by light reflecting through the deposits of calcium carbonate and clay at the bottom of the lake.

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Backtracked to Carcross township, formerly known as Caribou Crossing. Tour excursions had grilled chicken buffet lunch at a big canteen type place, our tour guide brought us to a small bakery that offered homemade sandwiches, soup and baked goods. We had corn beef (our salt beef), swiss & sauerkraut sandwich, salmon chowder, rhubarb strussel and blueberry cake. $24 almost, not cheap. I also noticed I was the only one in our group to pay in CAD, so many posts in cruise forums from Americans asking if they can pay in USD, sigh. Places like Carcross will definitely accept, mostly because of the thousands of Americans who arrive without realising you use another country’s currency when you are in their country, but the clueless still get a shock when they get change in CAD. Again, another country.

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skag152store skag159passportmoose
skag176carcross skag186carchurch

There was about an hour after lunch to explore the township. Carcross was the base of operations for many gold rush miners, and the haphazard and slightly desolate feel remained. The township was more like clusters of buildings that were a mix of old and new. The church, general store and station looked older while there was a newer block that had the information centre, a fish & chips place, a coffee place and a first nation store. In Canada what is known in the US as American Indians are referred to as first nationers. The pink general store was were most people headed for souvenirs and ice cream; they also had a little table where people could stamp their passports with a couple of cute stamps, self-service.

I bought a mini cinnnamon roll from the bakery before getting back on the bus, it looked so enticing on the tray. The journey back to Skagway was about 1.5hrs, and we napped for part of the way. We stopped at a lay-by and came across another tour bus where the driver had set up a spotter scope on a mother-and-kid mountain goat duo way up on the cliff. I could see them through the scope but could not see even a tiny white speck with just my eyes. We stopped at another viewpoint above Skagway and our driver dropped us off in town at around 2.30pm. WIth tips, it came to $200 for the two of us.

skag224house skag247redonion
skag277train skag267trainplough

We took our time walking around town back towards the ship. Bought magnets, hats, key chains and I got a free penknife. Like in Juneau there was an old timey saloon, this one called the Red Onion which was also a brothel. Difficult to go to drinking places with mum so we passed. The white pass train arrived back in town and I took some pictures. They also had this huge red drill engine parked at the yard, this was what they used in winter to clear snow.

gold275vealscaloppini gold277cassata

We were back on board at 6pm and headed to dinner. Our usual deck 5 place didn’t have any tables for two, so we were sent to Canalto restaurant at the back of deck 6, nornally used for traditional dining. We had a pair of great waitstaff but were seated in the middle of a noisy group, ah well. Dinner: seafood antipasti, cold peach bellini soup, veal scallopini, fettuccine alfredo, cassata with limoncello sorbet. It being Italian night we also got limoncello in the souvenir glass.

Ran a bit on the treadmill, read, and finished the bottle of pinot noir.