We arrive in Skagway to guess what, overcast skies and rain. We are booked on an early morning Skagway Street Car tour. We are met at the dock by a lovely young lady in late 1890's garb driving a reproduction 1930's bus. Great tour of the town and surrounding environs including history, folklore and local gossip, news and life. Near the end of the tour we transfer to a theatre for some folk songs, a slide show on Skagway history and our induction into the Arctic Brotherhood. Great tour. We wander through town taking photos and doing a little shopping , all the while working our way back towards the ship. Apparently the morning trip on the White Pass Railroad was a bust, shrouded constantly in fog. After a quick lunch onboard we return to the dock for tour number two. A bus ride "to the Summit". We luck out big time with clear blue skies.
Our tour guide Mark gives us a running commentary on the year round weather, the history of the White Pass , the railroad, life yearround in Skagway and makes very frequent stops for photo opportunities of unbelievable granduer. We even get a shot of the afternoon railroad trip passing over a trestle with a waterfall in the background. At the "top" of the pass we can see 7 glaciers at one time in the distant mountains. The weather holds out for the whole trip then closes in once more as we arrive back in town. The afternoon rail trip was apparently a 50/50 affair as to weather but they got a great ride up.
Tonight we ate for the first of two times at Normandy Restaurant. The food , service and overall experience compare with any great restaurant . The staff is friendly, not condecending at all .
Friday is our stop at Yakitak Bay and the Hubbard Glacier. We pick up our native commentators and pilot almost two hours late so we are going to lose time at the glacier. Temps are in the 30's with sleet and rain, wind gusting to 40mph. The upper decks and even the heliport are open for viewing but only a handfull of brave??? souls are out on the open decks.Our approach to the glacier is shrouded in fog and much of our time has "tough" weather and limited visibility. The sun breaks through towards the end of our brief stay. We have fabulous photos and video of the deep blue ice, the rolling thunder of the glacier calving over and over again. Thanks to that Gortex guy again and our own forsight to bring waterproof shoes, pants and gloves we had a great time. We finish up our stay at the glacier on our balconey as we realize that the final viewing positioning of the ship will be off the starboard side. Not as long as scheduled and no where as long as we wished, but an experience we will never forget and soon my face will thaw. We are quickly off and out to sea for our final Alaska stop , Kethican.
We lost Sitka as a port stop due to our 3 day delay in sailing.
Let me stop here and note some suggestions. You have heard me give thanks to the fact that we had Goretex jackets and hats as well as rainproof over pants (from Travelsmith). In addition we had lightweight but fully waterproof hiking shoes from Lands End. By having "proper" clothes to deal with the rain and cold we encountered in Vancouver and Alaska, our trip and our excursions were much more enjoyable.
In addition Gram shot her photos using a weatherproof 35mm camera with a 180 mm
zoom lens and in the worst of the weather, I shot using my Canon underwater camera.
The rest of the time I constantly kept my cameras covered and dried them repeatedly during use. In addition I had multiple large capacity memory cards for my digital cameras, lots and lots of film and backup batteries for every camera. You don't want to be buying film or camera accessories in the tourist areas or onboard ship.
Later Kethican and on south.
Bill, you write in such an interesting way, and I am sitting here with lots of memories of our trip to Alaska this past June. Thanks for sharing the journey with us and giving us some more things to shop for. :-)