Friday, September 18, 2009

Thurs, Sept 17: Skagway and...

The alarm goes off way too early! It is pouring down rain, but fortunately Dick disconnected everything and readied the rig before we went to bed last night so we get up and leave with a minimum of effort.

Check in for the ferry goes smoothly and the rig is first in the RV line and the Explorer is third in the car line at 5:30AM. Carolyn will drive the Explorer onto the ferry and off again. We will use it to explore Skagway later.

While we wait, we crank up the generator and fix coffee, tea, some bacon and sweet rolls. At 6:00AM the agent comes around to check that we have turned off the propane; don’t want the ferry to blow up! They start the loading process at 6:45AM with a fifth wheel that spent the night at our RV park. The poor guy has to back the rig down the ramp and into the ferry...glad it isn’t us! The cars are loaded last and we are off on time at 7:15AM.

The ride is one hour. It is still raining but not as hard as before and the clouds have lifted a little so we can see some of the beautiful fjord, the longest in North America.Once in Skagway, we find a place to park the rig and set out to explore a bit in the car. Our first stop is a small café for a hot breakfast. We both order a full breakfast. It arrives with two huge pancakes, two link sausages and two fried eggs. We eat every bit!

Since we first came here in 1991, the National Park Service has restored six buildings from the Gold Rush days right next to the harbor. We have visited them before. There are displays and a nice film plus the Park Service does some walking tours. Today, all we want to do is get the stamps in our National Parks Passport. We bought this earlier in the trip when we realized just how many of the parks we would visit on this trip.

We have always been here on a ship, so since we have a car we drive around a little just looking at the town. Many of the downtown buildings are restored or built to the Gold Rush look, so the town is colorful even on this rainy day. The rain stops for the moment and we head out to the Gold Rush Cemetery. The Historical Society has posted a detailed history of all the known graves including the infamous Soapy Smith. We also pass the rail yard of the White Horse and Kukon narrow guage railroad. it is interesting with all the old railroad cars. Our plan was to spend the night in Skagway, and then leave tomorrow, but it is only 10:00AM and the forecast is for even more and heavier rain this afternoon and tomorrow. We are tired of rain and decide to move on after a little shopping. Most places have much the same stuff we have seen everywhere with one exception...a Christmas shop. Dick finds a big, beautiful, wilderness Santa. It is beautifully done and he points it out to Carolyn...big mistake...we now have a two foot Santa with snow shoes, suede duster, fur lined boots and gloves carrying a string of real fur pelts, including an Ermine, and a wreath riding in the back of the Explorer!

Driving up through the White Pass on the Klondike Highway across the canyon from the White Horse and Yukon Railroad is a great drive. This is the second time we have done it and both times there have been low clouds. It is still a neat drive. We can only imagine how wonderful it is on a clear day.During the Gold Rush days it was known as the Dead Horse Trail because so many horses and mules died carrying the miners and their supplies up the pass before the railroad was completed.

Surprisingly, when we get near the summit and the Canadian border crossing, the clouds lift and we get a bit of sun. It is really pretty. There are a series of lakes along the road for miles in the high alpine valley. The farther we drive the better the weather gets until we break out into blue skies and sunshine!At Jakes Corner we leave the Klondike Highway and take the Tagish Cut-off over to the ALCAN. It was rainy when we did this stretch coming up; in the sunshine it is a much nicer drive. We make very good time. There is no traffic and about 6:30PM we stop at the Nugget City, Baby Nugget Campground, 340 miles from Skagway. It is a huge campground, something like 100 sites, but they only have the 30amp sites open. That is fine for us and we park in a completely empty campground! Carolyn fixes some pasta and a salad and we enjoy a pretty sunset.

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