Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eight miles after crossing the US border into Alaska, and down a long hill towards the coast, we finally came across the US customs station. There is only another very few miles till you run out of road at the port city of Skagway, Alaska.Across the valley, we could see the White Pass & Yukon railroad train also headed for Skagway.

Downtown Skagway, the streets were bustling with cruise ship visitors, all wearing name tags! The cruise ship appears to be parked right on the street!
Downtown buildings are mostly original maintained and restored from the gold rush era at the turn of the last century. Sometimes, you are not sure if the signs are real or historic.
We walked down to the ferry terminal to book passage to Haines, Alaska for the next day.
There were five or six cruise ships all in port at one time.
I suspect each ship may have had a passenger count higher than the population of Skagway?
Towards evening, all the cruise shippers headed back to their boats, and all of them left port later on in the evening.
We decided to eat at the Red Onion Saloon, which served as a bordello during the gold rush. The building has quite a history, and was even moved across town at one time. It has been restored, and there are tours available.
We were not sure if camping would be permitted at the ferry terminal parking lot, and at any rate it would have been somewhat noisy, so we found a gravel road over to Dyea, which was also an important landing area for the gold rush miners. Unlike Skagway however, it is almost totally gone and you have to look fairly hard to find the few remaining traces of what was once a bustling community a hundred years ago.

A view of Skagway from the road towards Dyea.
Dyea is also the start of the world famous Chilkoot Trail, over the pass of that name. It was one of the main gold rush routes over the mountains leading to the Klondike.
We found a quiet roadside spot to camp with an ocean view near Dyea. In the morning we had to be at the ferry terminal by 0530, and now the streets were really deserted.
But overnight, a new fleet of cruise ships had arrived, or were just pulling in to port.
We were among the first to board the ferry to Haines.
Two more cruise ships pulling in to port as we prepared to depart.
Check out this link for a quick video on the history and scenery of the Skagway area.
We finally pushed back - and were on the short leg to Haines, Alaska!

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