ALASKA! Skagway, Day 5

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Happy Fourth of July, Arrrrgh!

Heh. This only a small (but infinitely cool) bit of what greeted us when we looked out the window of our third port of call. The entire mountain, or mostly the entire lower half of the mountain was covered in all sorts of different ship’s…errr…well, graffiti I suppose. I don’t know if there is a technical term for painting your boat, captain and date on a rock but whatever it is, there were hundreds of these things all along the pier (or is it a wharf?).

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Here’s a taste of the bigger whole. I loved these things!

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Here’s our boat! Lookie look! The same captain too. Hee!

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These were pretty cool to find too. I guess Captain Clark sailed just about every boat that ever went through Skagway. Well, OK not really but we kept finding him. Take a look at the people sitting down on the bench for scale, these things are pretty big.

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This one’s Korean! It’s the yellow square below Daphne and to the right of the round one. There is also an Arabic ship in there somewhere (maybe pictured, maybe not. I couldn’t find it). The oldest was a very faded US Coast guard (I think, or US Navy) from the late 1930s (38? 39?) but mostly they ranged from the early seventies on. Some of them have partially or entirely slid off the mountain during this or that landslide (You can see in the first jumble of them one with a shorn off top edge) so the ground is littered with parts of ship graffiti. OK, OK, OK, I’m getting to the town. Sheesh, I thought it was tres cool, all these ships leaving their mark.

Right. So we pulled into Skagway on the 4th and TheMan and I moseyed in to do the tourista thing (buy postcards, playing cards and train dice. Come on, what household is complete with out a set of train dice? I can not fathom how we have existed before this sans train dice!) and discovered we came just in time for their Fourth of July parade. Sahweet! Because if there’s any one thing I’ll gladly stop for (mostly as a pedestrian) it’s a parade! This was one of the best parades too because it was a small town parade [to channel Troopers]”Some people call it the ass end of space but I like the small town feel of it.” where everyone knew everyone else in the parade. People were jabbering at the clowns and the float people and whatnot and the clowns and float people were jabbering right back like it was an every day meeting (except for the clown outfits…I assume).

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Of course a whistle stop town is going to start their parade with Old Steam Engine No. 73 (which I believe is only one of two working narrow gauge steam engines in the country). Incase you are wondering, we are parked about a block away from this bad boy and DAMN do steam engines have a loud ass whistle. The engineer whistled for an eternity (or until my ears popped and I couldn’t hear it anymore) and that signaled the start of the parade, which was somewhere else and eventually paraded down to this point, turned the corner and that was all. I don’t quite understand it but it works for them. There was trains and floats and dogs and candy (and even goldfish crackers. Yes, one of the floats – the bait shop – was tossing out goldfish crackers. Straight out of the box fahLING. That has to go on record as one of the most bizarre float goodies I think) and of course, what parade would be complete with out the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Bag Pipe Marching Band (verses the ones that pipe and ride)?

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I wasn’t kidding. But wait…

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This town comes with two (TWO!) bagpipe bands. And let me tell you, the Midnight Sun Pipe Band of the Yukon is without a doubt the BEST bag pipe band I have heard. Ever. They had me sold when they were piping melody and harmony among their ranks. It was like the orchestra of bag pipe bands, I think I might see if they have cut any albums because DAMN!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, mostly because the locals had this attitude of “Tourists? Whatever, we are having our 4th of July shindig thing and aint nothing going to get in the way of our having fun.” It was great! They had foot races down the street according to age, a whole BBQ thing set up and a pie auction. A pie auction! They could care less if we were there or not, they were celebratin, damnit! I loved Skagway! I wanted to put the whole town in my pocket and take it home with me! I’d think I’d have to say that Skagway was my favorite town to visit, even though I think Juneau would be my favorite town if I had to live there.

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Here’s more of the town and the modern diesel engine that pulls the scenic route train all over. We bought all sorts of postcards that depict the route and all its scenic glory (which really is just amazing as the post cards show it. We didn’t go on this particular excursion) and sat not too very far from where this picture was taken to fill them out. We tried to fill them out in the local Starbucks (yes, even Skagway has a Starbucks. How sad) but there wasn’t a single seat in the entire place. It was just this tiny kiosk in the corner of a tourist trap knick knacks place, so maybe there is hope after all. Since we had bought about 14 cards, we staked a spot outside the faux Starbucks and set to furiously writing and addressing when lo! Who should come to sit down in the next bench over but…CRAZY WHALE LADY!

Yes, weird things come in threes, Two bagpipe bands, a Starbucks in BFE and another encounter with Crazy Whale Lady. She was occupied with talking to some (poor) fella (who was most likely unsuspectingly trapped when he sat down near her) about this and that and really I didn’t pay any attention. After a while, I did see the guy get up and leave out of my peripheral vision but Crazy Whale Lady kept on talking. It was very strange too, she was saying things like “It’s lovely weather, don’t you think?” and “We should go to the park!” and I was thinking to myself “Didn’t that guy get up and leave? Then who the hell is she talking to? Did someone else sit down and I didn’t notice?”

So I paused in the middle of my last post card and looked around for whomever it was she was having this conversation with. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was me. Well, I suppose she could have been taking to us, or maybe spirits or even the chairs given her extent of whacked out but it didn’t phase her one bit that her former conversation partner had up and left. She just turned to the next nearest target and continued yammering on. She invited us to go down to the little park and take our shoes and socks off and go wading, because it was so warm out. And they had a little stream and we could take off our jeans and shirts and get some sun… We blinked for a bit, and then feebly waved our stack of post cards and said something like “OK then! Gotta go post these. At the post office…way, way over there…ummm, bye.” And high tailed it to the post office. Hey, that was at least sixteen more words than her last vict-er conversation partner said before he left.

We bought a 512 video card, on account of TheMan snapping his little heart out and filling up the 256 one we brought with us, and then headed back to the ship. We caught dinner in the dining room again and our waiter went on about where we had been for the past two days. Heh, he missed us! We explained that we partook of the upper deck and his reaction was to sniff at that and say that the food is MUCH better in the dining room. Hee! But of COURSE it is. It had to be, you got three times the silverware. I once again failed to figure out how to use all the silverware and Ilco snatched a poor unused fork and knife from my setting before I had time to figure them out. Drat. We returned to our room to discover another towel guy.

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I’ve been calling it a donkey, but someone said it looked like a moose. Maybe it’s a pit bull? Who knows.

We did some scenery watching, catching a few glaciers and some more bald eagles.

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(Cool house, save for the occasional BRRRRRRRTTTTTTTBOOM as the walls of ice shear off. Then again, how many real estate agents can sell a house on immediate snow cone material availability?)

Later that night, we had the beegeebus startled out of us by a long, low loud “AWHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGA”, which turned out to be the boat’s horn. It awhoogaed again after a bit, and then again so we opened up the curtains to see what was up. Fog! Fog everywhere and thick enough to swallow the back end of the boat! It was rolling in and billowing everywhere so we put our books down and scampered out to have a look see. It was very Stephen King, so thick you could see people disturb it as they walked through it. Incredibly wicked.


Last year at the booniverse: I remember thinking “Hey, wait, this isn’t about happy kids and cool things, this is about DEEP STUFF! Grown-up stuff! Ow my brain. Ow!”

One Response to “ALASKA! Skagway, Day 5”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Ocean fog is simply unmatched. I’ve never seen London’s fog, and perhaps it’s just as bad. But that Pacific ocean fog … hoo-wee!