Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Alaska Day 4 - Skagway

Skagway was the first time we actually set foot on Alaskan soil. It's a tiny town that has 862 full-time residents (swells to 2000 residents with summer workers) and has over 700,000 visitors visit every summer. We got to be 8 of them. 

The town is mostly owned by the National Park Service. At least the first several blocks.
This was John's 49th State! Hawaii - here we come?!

Two youngest taking care of each other down the gangway. 

Skagway was old fashioned wooden sidewalks reminiscent of the Klondike Gold Rush town that it started as.

We began our time in Skagway by shopping - as any good tourist would. 🙄 Unfortunately I don't wear bikinis since having 6 kids otherwise I'd be all over this. John was uncomfortable with the speedo but we are headed to Europe afterall soooo...

Fur is in abundance.

The kids all got sunglasses in Skagway and the boys immediately stopped smiling for all pictures. Sunglasses = impenetrability. 

Perusing the 3-D White Pass Rail Pass that we were able to take later in the day. We climbed over 3000 ft. The views were...wow.

The train that we took up a few hours later. 

Skagway is where Jack London visited and was inspired to write his Alaskan novels!

The girls forgot to be detached and cool. At this point the group split up and Thomas and Rosie (on the ends) went the Gran and Uncle Colin and Traci to zipline. Thomas was apparently ever the eager participant. Always listing and ALWAYS first in line. When asked what his name was and where he was from he enthusiastically answered, "Thomas! Maryland, USA!" So for the rest of the adventure they called him, "Thomas Maryland USA!" They LOVED ziplining but I wasn't there to get pictures - preferring my heights to be confined within the walls of a train.

I think we were still in the rainforest climate at this point.

The White Pass Rail. Oh my gosh. Easily the most beautiful this I've ever done. With the possible exception of what we did the day before. It's just glory to glory in Alaska. We climbed 3000 ft over an hour and half. We passed through four separate climates: temperate rainforest, sub alpine, alpine and sub-artic. Even though we basically had an 90 minutes on the train the terrain just kept changing and being a whole new experience.

Standing outside the rail car to get the best views. A little wobbly feeling but it moved slowly enough to be OK. Well, to be honest - I sent the 4 year old back in because I just didn't like the look of the gap on the floor. But again, Alaska! It was my choice to risk or not risk. 

Either alpine or sub-alpine.

Those pointy mountains to the right of the background range are the Sawtooth Mountains.

If you zoom into this picture you can actually see our ship docked in that tiny bit of water in the middle of the picture.

This is the Alpine climate zone.

Not the most inspiring picture but this was the border between Alaska and British Columbia, Canada. Because this climate at the border is Sub-Arctic and receives up to 70 ft. of snow (!!!) during the winter both countries actually set their customs building back 7 miles from the actual border where the climate is considered "Alpine" and receives a lot less snow.

This was part of a 3-mile long glacier lake which was 150 ft. deep at some points. 

At this point we were pretty solidly in the Sub-Arctic climate zone. Things started to look a little Mordor-y to me. Minus the lava and smoke. The small, shriveled trees in the background of this picture are up to 700 years old! They grow super slowly and never get big and can thus survive the winds and snow that come with their homeland. The wind up here was significantly colder. We dropped at least 10 degrees over the course of the ride.

These telephone poles are non-functioning now but were part of the US effort during WWII to have a radio option to contact Australia. They were successful! John and I both have grandfathers who were stationed in Alaska during the war so I was excited about these signs of human life way up here.

Re-entering the Alpine climate zone.

The girls spent most of the time climbing all over their uncle. Good sport!

This was Fraser, BC - the end of our route. We went through customs up here (not bad scenery for those customs officials, huh?, boarded our bus and drove back down. 

Roadtrip AND cruise. All the best worlds.

More of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Gold panning at a cheesy Gold-mining camp. I don't recommend this one except for the youngest of travelers. And even then...

FROZEN Sail-Away Dance Party as we pulled out of Skagway (see the great and fearsome Elsa down there in the middle?) Much joy for the 3 and 4 year old. 

11:15 pm.



  1. Your Alaska posts are taking my breath away. I knew I wanted to go... Now I REALLY want to go!!! :D Breathtakingly gorgeous. What a great start to a year of even more adventure.

  2. Okay, you got me jealous now. That train ride is officially on my bucket list.