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Old 09-29-2013, 07:16 AM   #10
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 360

Day Six – SKAGWAY; Trains, Emerald Lakes and Husky Puppies

Thursday 5th September

Part One -

Today is Skagway day! I woke around 6.00am and like a child on Christmas morning, ran out to the veranda to see what I could see. And what did I see…sea! I stayed out there for a while, although it was a little chilly in my PJs, and watched as we docked. We were right at the end of the main street in town, nice and central. I made sure to check both our cameras were charged and gathered the memory cards and extra batteries etc. as this was going to be a long day away from the ship.

We had pre-ordered breakfast and it arrived at the room around 6.30am. Apparently you have to be quite specific when filling out the room service breakfast ticket and not do it in a rush late at night so that you miss complete sections! I had ordered fruit loops but missed the part where you have to order the milk for cereal, I assumed it would just come with it. Elle’s selection of jams and honeys for her toast was actually just one pot of jam. There were no chocolate doughnuts and the plain doughnuts we were given were stale. Never ones to worry too much about things, we just gobbled it all down anyway, dry fruit loops and all.

We got up and packed our very handy Castaway Club bag for the day – preparing for every eventuality. The weather was a little dreary and chilly but not what I would consider to be cold. The sun was supposed to peak out later on in the day. I think I wore jeans a tank top and cardigan with a thin waterproof coat on top. I did take a scarf, hat and gloves in the bag but only needed these on the train later on as we stood out on the platform for the whole trip. But I’m getting ahead of myself again!

I am pretty certain we were the first people to get off the ship when we disembarked around 7.15am. Our tour start time was 7.30am so we wanted to make sure we could get off before the rush. There was no rush. We got off from deck 4, right next to a piece of ice which the crew had brought on board from Tracy Arm the day before. It was just sitting there on a trolley looking all sad and drippy, poor ice block.

We met the Chilkoot Tours driver at the end of the dock and waited in the van for our other tour mates. There were 5 of us from the Wonder and the rest from another ship which was in port that day, I think a Princess ship. We were driven to the other side of the dock (could have walked it in about 3 minutes) and transferred onto our “real” tour bus. Here we met our driver for the day, Bruce. He was great, very knowledgeable and clearly happy to be living in Alaska and share his stories with us. He then drove us to the train station in town; again we could have walked in about 2 minutes, and told us our carriage was the one at the very back of the train. Brilliant!

We got settled and thought it was a nice touch that Chilkoot supply bottled water in their carriage. There was loads of it, crate after crate. We took 2 for later. After a while we were off. They didn’t let anyone go out on the platform until we were out of town, after which we went out and stayed out. It was lovely and being right at the back meant we had no obstructions in our view. They are not allowed to “officially” tell you which side is best for the views but they do tell you that you want to sit on the left!

Our journey up was mostly clear but as edged closer to the summit the clouds rolled in. it wasn’t wet, just misty and dull. We soon pulled out of this though when we reached the summit and worked our way out towards Fraser BC. I really enjoyed the train journey but wouldn’t want to go back down the same way. Our tablemates later told us they took the train up and cycled down. I think this would have been a brilliant option, if I were to go again I would try that.

Once at Fraser, we had to get our passports out ready for the customs officer to check. We were asked to sit quietly until they came into our carriage and told us we were clear. Waiting at the station were all of the drivers for the various tours. Bruce suggested we take advantage of the toilet facilities as it would be our last chance for a couple of hours. They also had a neat stamp which you could stamp in your passport.

We all bundled back onto the bus and set off for our lovely journey up to Carcross. We stopped a few times on the way for various sights and a possible mountain goat sighting. We all concluded that it was just a rock and the passenger who spotted it had been a bit over zealous! Just before stopping at Caribou Crossing Trading Post for lunch, Bruce took us to Emerald Lake which was beautiful. The pictures just don’t do the colours justice.

We were given about an hour and 15 minutes of free time at Caribou Crossing Trading Post, starting with lunch. We were served a rustic BBQ chicken plate with baked potato, roll and coleslaw. They then had trays of really tasty cinnamon sugar doughnuts, of which you could have as many as you wanted! We decided to sit outside in one of the novelty wagons because, well, when else can you eat BBQ chicken in a wagon?!

Flying is simple - just throw yourself at the ground and miss!
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