Exactly one year ago: Welcome to Alaska!

Exactly one year ago today we arrived in Skagway, Alaska on the 31st day of our journey from Georgia! We had a wonderful time as we traveled across the U.S. and through Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon but after 31 days we were ready to see Alaska. Here is my original post from Skagway after we finally arrived.

Day 31: Saturday, June 15, 2013. Watson Lake, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska. Pullen Creek RV Park Site 45 overlooking the Skagway Harbor and surrounded by mountains. 320 miles traveled.

I was talking to a fellow traveler at the RV park in Watson Lake before we left there this morning and I commented that this was our 31st day on the road and we still weren’t in Alaska! Our plan for the day was to continue on the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse, Yukon and enter Alaska northwest of there in several days.

It was another beautiful drive on the Alaska Highway with some nice places to stop along the way.

We stopped for lunch at a rest stop. While I was fixing lunch Henry walked over to read an interpretive sign. On the sign was a large map of the area. As we were eating he commented that we weren’t very far from Skagway. We talked about it for a few minutes and he was just as anxious to get to Alaska as I was. We had to make a decision as the turnoff to go to Skagway was in about  six miles. I entered Skagway into the GPS and it was 59 miles to Whitehorse and about 102 miles to Skagway. It was a no brainer. We were going to Skagway.

We left the Alaska Highway and off we went. We were about halfway to Skagway when I realized it was Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. What if all the rv parks were full? There was no cell service and no way to find out until we got there. I read ahead in the Milepost and saw in red letters warning of an 11 mile descent with 11% grade going into Skagway. I told Henry “There’s something coming up you’re not going to like.” There was no turning back.

The drive on the Klondike Highway was spectacular. Snow covered mountains, deep blue ice covered lakes. There were even two bears along the highway. We couldn’t stop to look at anything.

I kept checking my phone for cell service. We had to get AT&T when we got to Skagway, didn’t we?

Finally, we stopped for pictures at the Welcome to Alaska sign! We were really here!

We finally made it!
We finally made it!

We cleared customs with no problem and headed straight for the Pullen Creek RV Park hoping for one of the waterfront sites on the harbor. We asked for 2 nights, maybe 3. He said no problem, go pick one and come back and tell me where you are. After setting up, we were happy to just sit outside and enjoy the view.

Henry says I looked like I was going to cry when I saw AT&T with full bars and 3G come up on my phone. We called our kids and enjoyed the rest of the night.

Day 34: Taking the Alaskan Ferry to Haines

Day 34: June 18, 2013. Skagway, Alaska to Haines, Alaska on the ferry Walaspina. Oceanside RV Park, Site 13, Haines. About 335 miles by land, 15 miles and one hour by ferry.

Four new cruise ships arrived in the harbor while we were sleeping. The boardwalks were filled with shoppers from the ships early in the morning. We made a couple of last minute purchases before hitching up the fifth wheel to drive about two blocks to the ferry terminal. Our quiet little row of campers suddenly became busy as about 4 huge motor homes pulled in just as we were getting ready to leave. With cruise ship passengers walking through the parking lot and a train across the road stopping traffic it took us about 30 minutes to go two blocks to get in line for the ferry.

Our rig was measured – 46 feet from the front of the truck to the rear of the fifth wheel – we paid for the tickets, and had a couple of hours before boarding. We had hoped to grab a quick lunch in town but lines were out the doors everywhere so we just fixed lunch and ate at the ferry dock. Our rig was parked right next to Ted and Ruthy, a couple from Michigan and Arizona we met back in Prince George, BC. We saw their rig in Watson Lake and they saw ours in Liard Hotsprings.

When it was time to board the vehicles on the ferry a crew member directed traffic pointing to each vehicle when it was their turn to board. We sat and watched the motor homes and other trailers board until only cars were left. When they started moving quickly to the ferry we knew we would be the last ones on.

Blondie had to stay in the truck while we went up to the passenger decks for our one hour journey through the inside passage to Haines. We stayed outside most of the trip to see the scenery and went inside to the nice comfortable lounge when we started getting cold.

Our campground was just a few minutes drive from the ferry dock. Our friends Ted and Ruthy are just a few sites down from us. An eagle flew by to welcome us and perched on the rocks in the harbor. Our next door neighbors said they saw whales earlier. We knew we were going to like it here.

Every day just keeps getting better and better.

Day 33: Another fun day in Skagway

Day 33: Monday, June 18, 2013

While we slept, four cruise ships arrived in the harbor. Skagway was bustling with activity early in the morning as the trains, sightseeing buses, and stores prepared for the onslaught of cruise ship passengers.

The streets were still fairly quiet as I took my early morning stroll through town. I passed by two trains filled with passengers waiting to depart. Later in the day the streets were filled with people strolling along, taking pictures, and hitting the shops.

After another delicious breakfast at the Sweet Tooth we joined the throngs of shoppers browsing the shops. You can find anything from the typical made in China souvenirs to beautiful handcrafted, made in Alaska items. After drooling over all the beautifully crafted items I finally decided on a pair of jade whale tail earrings.

At 10:30 we went to the Days of ’98 Show at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. The musical play tells the tale of Soapy Smith, Alaska’s most notorious outlaw. The show was entertaining and so much fun. The piano player, dance hall girls, ragtime music, and Soapy himself were all great. I highly recommend attending the show if you ever go to Skagway.

Here is a video of the girls performing the can-can. If you are reading an email update and can’t watch the video, click Wandering Dawgs to go to the web page and scroll to the video to watch.

When we came out of the show the streets were filled with people. A drive along the Taiya Inlet to the former town of Dyea sounded perfect. Thousands of prospectors hoping to strike it rich during the Klondike Gold rush followed the Chilkoot trail which began in Dyea. The narrow, winding gravel road to the site of the once booming town of Dyea was beautiful. The trail to the town site takes you through woods and neither of us was prepared for the hike so we didn’t actually see where the town once was. At the end of the road were the Dyea Flats with wild iris and other wildflowers adding splashes of purple to the green.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush, visit The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Site to find out more.

Henry spent the rest of the afternoon washing the truck while I did some cleaning inside. Watching the cruise ship passengers pass by on their way back to their ship was a great way to relax after a hard day of being a tourist.

Dinner at the Red Onion Saloon was really fun. As I was enjoying my pizza and Henry his Reuben, we were pleasantly surprised to see a band setting up to play. With two fiddles, a bass, a mandolin, a guitar, and English Concertina we knew the Windy Valley Boys would be fun to listen to. Their first song was a foot tapping, buck dancing kind of song that reminded me of the jam session at the Floyd Country Store in Virginia. We ordered another beer and stayed for the entire first set. What a great ending to our day!

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Day 32: Father’s Day in Skagway

Day 32: Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Henry’s Father’s Day present was he didn’t have to tow the RV anywhere! He got to relax and enjoy the day.

Blondie and I started the day with an early morning stroll through downtown Skagway. As I walked along the boardwalks gazing at the historic buildings I could imagine what it must have been like during the Gold Rush days in 1898.

Later on, Henry and I enjoyed breakfast at the Sweet Tooth Cafe before going for a drive back up the highway to enjoy the views we couldn’t stop to look at on our way to Skagway.

Fish and Chips at the Skagway Brewing Company with a Prospector’s Ale was a great way to end the day.

We couldn’t have picked a better place to start our Alaska adventure than Skagway. We love it here.

Day 31: We Finally Got Here!

Day 31: Saturday, June 15, 2013. Watson Lake, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska. Pullen Creek RV Park Site 45 overlooking the Skagway Harbor and surrounded by mountains. 320 miles traveled.

I was talking to a fellow traveler at the RV park in Watson Lake before we left there this morning and I commented that this was our 31st day on the road and we still weren’t in Alaska! Our plan for the day was to continue on the Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon and enter Alaska northwest of there in several days.

It was another beautiful drive on the Alaska Highway with some nice places to stop along the way.

We stopped for lunch at a rest stop. While I was fixing lunch Henry walked over to read an interpretive sign. On the sign was a large map of the area. As we were eating he commented that we weren’t very far from Skagway. We talked about it for a few minutes and he was just as anxious to get to Alaska as I was. We had to make a decision as the turnoff to go to Skagway was in about  six miles. I entered Skagway into the GPS and it was 59 miles to Whitehorse and about 102 miles to Skagway. It was a no brainer. We were going to Skagway.

We left the Alaska Highway and off we went. We were about halfway to Skagway when I realized it was Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. What if all the rv parks were full? There was no cell service and no way to find out until we got there. I read ahead in the Milepost and saw in red letters warning of an 11 mile descent with 11% grade going into Skagway. I told Henry “There’s something coming up you’re not going to like.” There was no turning back.

The drive on the Klondike Highway was spectacular. Snow covered mountains, deep blue ice covered lakes. There were even two bears along the highway. We couldn’t stop to look at anything.

I kept checking my phone for cell service. We had to get AT&T when we got to Skagway, didn’t we?

Finally, we stopped for pictures at the Welcome to Alaska sign! We were really here!

We made it!
We finally made it!

We cleared customs with no problem and headed straight for the Pullen Creek RV Park hoping for one of the waterfront sites on the harbor. We asked for 2 nights, maybe 3. He said no problem, go pick one and come back and tell me where you are. After setting up, we were happy to just sit outside and enjoy the view.

Henry says I looked like I was going to cry when I saw AT&T with full bars and 3G come up on my phone. We called our kids and enjoyed the rest of the night.