Saturday, September 5, 2015

Alaska Cruise - Skagway

The next morning, we arrived in Skagway. It was the northernmost point on our cruise:

I thought you'd like to see the map. This is not the exact route our cruise took, because we started in San Francisco. However, it does give you an idea of the ports within Alaska's Inside Passage. Before this trip, I was not familiar with the geography at all.

It was a beautiful morning - partly cloudy and cool. As the day went on the clouds moved out and it was mostly sunny and warm.

Disembarking today was much easier than when we had arrived in Juneau. In Juneau, because we were late getting into port, everyone had to get off the ship at the same time in order to make their rescheduled excursions. But when we arrived in Skagway, the passengers were leaving the ship at different times as their excursions began throughout the morning.

I loved seeing how big our ship was when we were on shore! It was  the biggest cruise ship on the seas when it was launched in 2001, but I know there are even larger cruise ships today. Hard to believe.

One of the interesting things to see as we disembarked was the harbor seals taking advantage of the plentiful salmon right there in the shadow of the ship's bow. They feasted all day long and put on quite a show.

This was the one shore day that we did not spend with my parents. Mom and Dad took a ride on the White Pass Railroad - a long ride. I had decided a few months ago that Michaela would not be amused by such a long ride despite her enthusiasm for trains. Instead, we panned for gold and met some sled dogs.

Although were weren't very adept with our gold panning technique, we did manage to keep more than $20 in gold flakes. I think I'll keep my day job, though.

The best part of this excursion was meeting Matt Hayashida and his dogs. Matt has completed the Iditarod several times, and it was really interesting to hear him talk about his equipment, the trail, the weather conditions, and his dogs.

Matt began with a short lecture:

And then we went out to meet his dogs:

After a little meet and greet with the doggies, they got into their harnesses and did a short run for us to see:

They do train in the summer on a dirt track like the one you see in the background above. Matt said it was their strength training.

Then it was time for them to return to their kennels, and Matt shared the next generation of sled dogs with us:

Just four weeks old! Aren't they precious. There were eight or ten of them, and Matt let us hold them and love on them.

That's Michaela with a sweet little friend named Sophia who she had met at the kids club on the ship. I just learned today that Sophia's mom works with Michaela's cousin at Disneyland. Talk about a small world!

Speaking of kids club, that was were Michaela wanted to go. Yeah, sure the panning for gold and puppies were okay, but the place she really wanted to be was that kids club. So we went back to the ship, had lunch, and I dropped her off at the kids club before heading back into Skagway for a look around. It's a small town, for sure. In fact, I heard one woman (I believe she was a resident) say that when the cruise ships leave at the end of the day, the town is practically deserted and it looks like a vacant movie set.

Here's what it looks like from the deck of the ship:

 And here's what it looks like as you walk into town form the docks:

Now, I've got to mention that there was something really peculiar about all of our ports - they were riddled with jewelry shops. Like a ridiculous number of jewelry shops. We really couldn't figure out why, but maybe there are enough people who make fine jewelry purchases when they are on a cruise. I really don't know. I bought a t-shirt and a miniature totem pole...

In spite of all the jewelry shops, there are some other sites to see as you walk the main drag of Skagway:

And although I didn't get to see nearly the amount of wildlife I hoped to see, I did get to see the rarest of all creatures:

I know you're jealous. I mean who expects to see a unicorn in Alaska?





But a unicorn?

Who knew?

So that was our day in Skagway.

Up next, Tracy Arm Fjord...

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