Hello from somewhere off the coast of Canada
Tuesday evening – July 24, 2018 (Third post of this travelogue)
Wow, we have some catching up to do!!
Friday we boarded the Cruise Ship “Explorer of the Seas”. This a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that can accommodates over to 4,000 passengers – huge. It has 6 engines with a total capacity of over 102,000 HP. There are 15 decks and it is over 1000 feet long.
Saturday was an “at sea” day. Sunday (July 22) we arrived in Juneau, Alaska. We had booked an excursion that included whale watching and a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier. Our tour started with a bus ride several miles to a dock where we boarded a fairly large boat. During the roughly 3 hours on the boat we saw some beautiful scenery and got to see a few whales. We were a bit disappointed as the whales did not stay on the surface for long. Their dives were between 7 and 20 minutes, so our viewing was limited. We did see a small pod of Orcas which included a baby and a couple of distant sightings of humpback whales.
The bus then took us up to the Mendenhall Glacier which is located about 12 miles from Juneau. It is said to be about 13 miles long. Sadly the glacier has retreated quite a bit in the past few years. The visitor center was built close to the glacier and the glacier is now about a half mile away. I have included a photo.
Sunday we arrived in Skagway, AK and took our second of two excursions we booked. This one included a bus ride over the summit of White Pass (on the Klondike Highway) and down the far side to the Yukon Territory border. The Klondike Highway runs from Skagway to the town of White Horse in the Yukon Territory. A few miles after we left Skagway we left Alaska and entered British Columbia, Canada. At the Yukon border we turned around and headed back up the pass. We then stopped for lunch the Yukon Suspension Bridge. The pedestrian bridge is 200 feet long and is 57 feet above the Tutshi River.
We then drove to Fraser, British Columbia, where we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route train. This is a narrow gauge railroad that was started in 1898 and completed in 1900. It ran from Skagway to Whitehorse. It was started during the gold rush but completed after the mining became a very small economic factor. While the bus ride was very picturesque, the train ride was spectacular. The route is very twisty with some sharp turns and lots of places where it was a shear drop off down into a very deep valley. Along the way you see the remnants of the old steel cantilever bridge (see current and historic pictures). Looking at the bridge, I am sure glad it has been retired.
Skagway, and to a lesser degree Juneau, epitomize the term tourist towns. Skagway is home to gold-rush-era buildings, now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The population in the harsh winters is about a 1,000 and that doubles in the summer. We only travelled through the town via the bus, but it looks like a fun place. It even had some “madams” hanging out of the second story windows.
That is all for this post.