Sunday, July 26, 2009

29-2009 Skagway Alaska

Skagway and Ferry Ride

I just learned that Skagway is at the end of Alaska’s longest and deepest fjord. I’m looking forward to heading out on the ferry in a couple of days to see it. While wondering around town, I stopped in the visitor center and was talking to one of the employees. A 30 something gal who lives here year round. She told me how she’d come to finding a job as house sitter during the winter months and also checks on a couple other places as well, making it possible for her to live here full time. Said it’s pretty expensive to live here. I mentioned how I was shocked at the price of food in the only grocery store, the Fairway Market. She said she doesn’t even look at the prices, just picks up what she needs and buys it. When you only have one choice, I guess that’s what you do. Though she does go into Whitehorse, a couple hours away, occasionally to buy groceries and supplies to stock up when possible. Housing is expensive. A small efficiency apartment goes for $600 a month. The cheapest house for sale, $99,000 is a Yurt and is not heated for winter use.

It must be interesting to live here during the winter. Lots of snow, most business close up for the winter. Quiet time to reflect, go cross country skiing and other outdoor sports. They do have a school and I understand all the graduating class are going onto college. Total 1st grade to 12 grade, 98 students. That’s probably 6 or 8 graduating.

I will tell you one thing that is not correct. Skagway advertises itself as the Garden City of Alaska and it is not. I’ve driven most all the streets in and around town and there are only a few private residences that have a wonder display of flowers…. The rest of the town, not so much. As I recall from my journey so far, I’d have to give the title of Garden city to Anchorage. They really know how to put on a wonderful display of hanging flower baskets, patches of flower gardens everywhere throughout Anchorage. Now that’s a true Garden city.

But overall, I must say I’m smitten with Skagway. Now I will admit the weather has not been completely cooperative as it’s been very overcast. With low lying clouds moving across the sky, hugging the tops of all the mountain ranges. But just watching the clouds light up with sunlight highlighting them from the inside out, watching the clouds roll over the mountains in a slow ballet of tumbles and pushing against each other, creating new forms has been a delight.

Today alone I visited the Gold Rush cemetery, deep inside a thick forest of evergreens and ferns. Beyond it I hiked up a pine nettle covered trail and viewed a water fall. Peaceful and contemplative thinking about the thousands of adventurers traveling here in the 1880’s looking for a fortune and hopefully finding it within themselves since most of the gold had already been found or claims made on the land. Walking around the historical town and talking to the locals, learning about life in this remote part of the world which is opened to the public via cruise ships, Rv’ers and explorers finding their way over White Pass. But at the end of the day, it returns to it’s origins. A town at the end of the road, or the beginning of the road depending on your point of view. A place where rugged individuals have found their home and the rest of us just stay a while and then leave.

I had a sunny day in which I retraced much of my steps from the previous couple of days, just to capture some pictures with blue sky and sunlight.

I’ll spend today preparing for my ferry ride tomorrow and enjoying this gold rush era town one more time.

Interested in reading more about the Klondike Gold Rush click on this link.

Or to see historical pictures from the Rapuzzi Collection click on this link.

The next report will be from Ketchikan Alaska.

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