I sit here listening to the wind. I look out, and see the same wind move snow at a pretty good clip. The wind is blowing as if this area was inhabited by dickens, but not just regular dickens. Great big expirating dickens, the kind that can move snow horizontally.
OK, now that half my readers left, shaking their heads, and mumbling “Dude be crazy!”, on with the post.
Our next Alaska cruise stop is Skagway. Yes, another update from our September cruise. And it’s only February! I’m motoring!
Skagway (originally spelled Skaguay) is from the Tlingit name for the area, “Skagua” or “Shԍagwei” meaning “a town full of shops owned by the cruise lines“. OK, OK . . . the name actually means “a windy place with white caps on the water.” But, below I make the case for the more modern definition.
First some history. I am nothing if not about eye-jucation. You can read about Skagway HERE, but for them too lazy to do so, I give you the Disperser summary.
Tlingits living off the land in a beautiful place. Other people come. They think gold be around, and push inland. Meanwhile, dispute about borders between US, Canada, and Britain. Gold actually found in the Yukon. Steamboats full of prospectors come the town. The town’s population grows to 10,000 suckers . . . er . . . prospectors, making it the largest city in 1898 Alaska, with something like 30,000 people in the general area.
There be neat tales of ladies of easy virtue, men of no virtue, shootouts, killings, and the usual human stuff when people who are not Tlingit go visit places.
Meanwhile, since the route to prospecting requires getting into Canadian territory, the Canadians require prospectors have at least a ton of supplies before venturing out into the wilderness. That was so they would not have their countryside littered with people who starved to death. The burden of carrying the supplies leads to a demand for an aerial tramway, and eventually, a narrow gauge railroad to ferry the prospectors to them prospecting fields. The White Pass & Yukon Route was conceived and planned.
The railroad is completed in 1900, just in time for the demand to die down. Residents resorted to tourism, and pretty much it’s where we are now.
The ticket office for the railway. These days they only run in the summer for tourists who bring in the cash. It was unclear to me if it was running while we were there. I believe it was, because I think the cruise line provides an excursion that includes a train ride. I be betting this was it.
Yeah, I know . . . it’s hard to read. You can always go look at the larger, clearer, more splendid version that can be found in the SmugMug gallery (HERE).
Dang!! I forgot to crop out the pole. I just noticed it . . . well, it’s now a part of my couple-of-media-presentation.
This is Skagway . . .
Pretty much, shops, after shops, after shops . . . wait . . . what’s that red thing?
Why, it’s the snowplow used to clear the railroad tracks during heavy snows. Ugh! . . . people . . . Luckily, they went across the street to . . .
. . . you guessed it! A t-shirt shop. Actually, I lost my posse to the lure of short sleeved garments with writing on them. But that’s OK. It left me alone to do what I enjoy: take photographs.
That is one heck of a plow . . . something like what I could use right now.
Again, you can better read the exploits of the plow if you go to SmugMug, but for them too lazy to click HERE, No. 1, the above plow, retired from service in 1964, and in its 65 years of service, made 2,580 trips, and traveled 181,000 miles.
The thing is impressive, and one can imagine it carving its way through massive snow drifts.
Nearby there is the ubiquitous sign to other places, and near that, there is a statue commemorating something or other.
Let me see what it’s about . . .
It speaks of the native people guiding the crazy white folks through the passes.
The guy above is the stand-in for all crazy white folk . . .
The guy in front is the guide. Here is a Black and White rendition.
Frankly, I’m more interested in the machine that chewed through snow.
So, the next few photos are of the snow plow and the surroundings.
Here is a shot modified by hand . . .
And nearly the same shot run through the HDR process in Photoshop (six different shots).
I did not know which I should like, so I included them both.
Then, I proceeded into the station. It had some period stuff. Historical artifacts, they called them.
Around that time, my posse rejoined with me. They were now laden with various goods. I offered to carry part of the loot, and we set off to hit the rest of the stores. Or at least give them the once-over. What follows are some of the storefronts . . . I did not photograph all of them, as only about half were interesting.
No, not the clothes . . . the farthest sign . . . yes!! Bakery!! As it turns out, this being an American cruise, the place had been picked clean by the time we got there. But, honest . . . we had all that stuff on the ship. I only wept for ten minutes, or so.
Wait . . . you have got to be kidding me!!
A bit of a language lesson . . .
Again, if you want to actually read it, click on the photo . . .
A few more sights . . .
. . . and then back to the boat.
Our boat is behind it . . .
One of the interesting things were the advertising graffiti on the cliffs opposite the berths, nearly at the three stories level. I could not see easy ways to get them there (there is quite a gap between the cliffs and the dock). Plus, it was not just ads; it was obvious some people wanted to post personal messages for the tourists to read.
A few shots of our cruise ship.
She be a big mother. I wonder how big her crap-holding tanks are? Or is it all immediately flushed into the sea? Best not to think about such things.
Back on the ship, I decided to walk about a bit, and snap some additional photos of this beauty.
But, the ship was about to get underway, and one has to go watch the departure. Actually, all of us, not just one.
The weather had cleared, giving us a great view of the town.
And of the surrounding hills.
Goodbye Skagway . . . it was nice shopping you.
The way out of the passage was fraught with photo opportunities.
We were underway . . . the next day would be at sea, with a quick evening stop in Victoria, and then home the day after that.
This recounting is coming to an end . . . but we are not done yet. There is more to share.
If you enjoyed reading this story, please tell everyone you know. After all, why deprive your loved ones, your friends, and your work colleagues, of the joy associated with the discovery of these little gems?
BUT . . . If you did not enjoy reading it . . . well, don’t get your all railed up. And please; don’t tell anyone.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.