The Alaska Marine Highway changed Alaska in important ways. Captain Rudini told me how whole towns would come out to the docks to cheer the ferry's arrival. Here is a great shot of one of the other ships.
We arrived in Wrangell
On board they have park rangers who hold talks on Alaska. The wilderness. The wildlife. The towns we dock at. Thanks to her, we found that some very old stones with pictographs were just across from the dock in front of the library.
Rushed back to the ferry....still trying to make up time from the late departure and missing the tide. Next was the Wrangell Narrows and I had a first row seat on the bridge.
The view from my seat
The first view of the narrows
Over 50 navigation markers and usually traversed at night. It must be impressive when you only see the green and red markers and the coast dotted with sleepy homes.
Here is one of the markers up close.
I spent a lot of time watching the water for whales and other marine life and was surprised by how many logs were floating in the water. This somewhat explains it.
Another small community.
Mark in Anchorage told me to ask for Stan. Turns our they are related. Stan was a sweet sweet man. In fact I made friends with nearly the whole crew over our 2 day voyage and was excited to learn that my return ferry would be the same ship and Rudini would be there.
Finally arrived in Skagway. The original plan was to arrive in Haines, stay the night and then ferry over the next morning to meet up with my childhood girlfriend Courtnay. Turns out, the delay made it a wiser choice just to go straight there and ride North from Skagway. It added 50 miles to the total trip to Tok but they were a gorgeous 50 miles.
Coming off the ferry nearly last.
With my very special home made moose antlers.
According to Courtnay, when her friend taking these photos saw me, she immediately said, 'Yep, that looks like one of your friends'.
What a cute town Skagway was, dirt roads and wooden sidewalks.
And some things just don't change...for example, Courtnay's love affair with big sunglasses.
For those of you who know Skagway...you'll certainly know this building. Her husband Brad built it and told me how many pieces of wood he used. (as a good accountant on sabbatical, I immediately forgot what that number was)
And my darling friend.
She has 4 dogs, most of them lap.
And this lovely lady...
Brad is a hunter (big surprise) and loves Cllint Eastwood. Yep, all those guns are family heirlooms.
Yep, he hunted this bad boy. I even had a mountain goat burger for dinner.
She brought me to my hostel.
Big, comfortable house. bottom bunk.
Big clean bathroom.
The first thing she took me to visit was the brothel house at the Onion.
This red lantern outside signified the type of establishment it was.
The main saloon where patrons were received.
Some fun signs
The money hole. Copper piping that ran downstairs where the working girls would drop the gold.
Actual bed from the day...alarmingly small.
Read the original use of Lysol and cringe.
Meet Margot. Buxom beauty with big red curls.
Next thing we did was take the whitepass summit train ride. View of Skagway from halfway up the mountain.
And a view of the train tracks to come up above.
Brad came along and brought his binoculars. He immediately spotted probably a dozen mountain goats and tried patiently to point them out to me.
This mountain top looked like a mouthful of broken teeth.
All I can say is thank god we didn't go over this old rickety wooden bridge.
Got to the top and the frozen lake at the border and turned around.
She's gonna hate me for posting this one....
It was a great day. We also visited the gold rush cemetery after dinner which was very special with all the old 1898 tombstones. The next day would prove to be the most difficult in terms of distance and problems with the bike but I did have an angel watching over me, two in fact...