Our 2006 Alaskan Cruise/Tour

Page 4

Back on board ship we enjoyed a little music in the Atrium before dinner. Every day, all week long, on board the ship, we had lectures by naturalists and other interesting speakers.

One person in particular was impressive: Karen Dodd. She lived in a native subsistence village and taught school there for 34 years. Her descriptions of subsistence living in Alaska were unbelievable!

We also learned about "Mushing" (dog sledding) from the 1985 Iditerod race winner: Libby Riddle.

On Tuesday AM we docked at Juneau. This is the capital of Alaska and the city is accessible only by sea and air. By sea, it can be reached via the "Alaska Marine Highway" system which is an established ferry route from Bellingham, WA to Anchorage, AK and on to Dutch Harbor Island in the Aleutian Islands.

The highlight of our stop in Juneau was our trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. This has its source 13 miles above in the massive Juneau Ice field. The glacier has retreated about 2.5 miles since the mid-1700's (global warming?).

In spite of the warnings, we hiked the East Glacier Loop Trail to a viewpoint above the glacier. Mary Ann sang the whole way! We never saw a bear. Maybe the singing worked...

We visited and toured the Alaska State House, The Juneau Elks Club, and The Red Dog Saloon. This is notable because one of my dearly departed co-workers: Jim McNeill. He was referred to as "Red Dog 1" (I was "Red Dog 2".)

Note he cliffs that come down to the edge of town!

That night at sea we passed another cruise ship. Her lights were on. So were ours. We must have looked like this to them. Quite a sight!

On Wednesday we docked at Skagway. Our first stop was the National Parks Service (NPS) Visitors Center. This town is notable because it was the jumping off point for the miners during the "Yukon Gold Rush" of 1898. The infamous Chillkoot Trail was near here. It was to the top of White Pass that prospective miners had to haul one ton of provisions in 50 pound increments. That's about 40 trips up a steep icy slope. The RCMP would not let anyone into Canada without their "one ton".

The main street of Skagway is Broadway. The NPS owns most of the historic building here and is busy restoring many of them to their 1898 appearence. Note the cruise ship at the end of Broadway and the snow covered mountains in the distance.

Skagway is also home of the White Pass Railroad. This railroad was built as an alternative to the Chillcoot Trail. Unfortunately, the Gold Rush ended before the railroad was completed. However, it was a valuable route for bringing supply into the Yukon. Today it is a major tourist excursion experience (costing $100 a person round trip). We skipped this experience.

That's it for Juneau and Skagway!

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