We’ve just got off the ferry from Bellingham and now we’re in Skagway, staying at the Westmark Hotel overnight so that we can get some food, do some washing and have a look around here. Fay and Ron will be interested to know that the Westmark is owned by the Holland America Line, and there’s a huge cruise ship docked here. Actually, there are 4 cruise ships here today. We’re waiting until a bit later before we go out exploring, so that we can avoid the crowds.
But let’s backtrack to the ferry trip …. gosh, it was good!
I wrote the last post on Greg’s phone while we were waiting to leave Bellingham, and our decision not to put the tent on the deck was further reinforced on the first night, when it rained and was windy enough that one tent almost got blown away. The occupant wasn’t in it, but some guys grabbed it before it fluttered away. We were also glad that we hadn’t used the tent from a community point of view, because we would have isolated ourselves from our fellow-travellers, and missed out on a lot.
When we got to the ferry terminal we had divided our responsibilities – Greg drove the car on, while I took the tent and our super-dooper luxury Thermarest mattresses, walked onto the ferry and got us a couple of sunbeds in the solarium after having a look at a couple of indoor lounge areas and rejecting them in favour of something more outdoorsy. I got on the ferry a couple of hours before Greg – by the time he found me, all the sunbeds and most of the floor space in the solarium had gone. So we settled in and made the most of our ‘space’ – the 2 sunbeds pushed together, with just enough space around the edge for our fridge bag & various other bits & pieces, with the window sill and railing coming in handy for holding and hanging stuff. We met some lovely people, swapped lots of stories and got to see whatever was happening on the water and on land because it was just a few steps away from us. Whales, eagles, icebergs, a glacier or two. At night the overhead heaters in the solarium were turned up, so it was always warm enough.
The ferry had a cafe, but we were able to self-cater as there was a microwave and toaster in the dining room, plus ice, chilled and boiling water and vending machines. Some of the meals in the cafe sounded okay though – ham hocks and lima beans, and one that still has me scratching my head … grilled roast beef.
The Inside Passage was beautiful – so many tree-covered islands, with some really narrow channels at times. Then after we went past Ketchikan, the first stop on the journey, we started seeing ice-capped peaks on the mainland. A picture postcard every few metres.
Skagway was the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century. It had all the usual attractions designed to separate men from their money – saloons, painted ladies, gambling and thieves. The main part of the town looks like it did back then, and there’s even a Brothel Museum here (I’m sure I’ll find something witty and amusing to say about that later). Greg has been out exploring, and came back to report that it’s all very expensive and touristy. No surprises there. We’ll go out hunter-gathering at the local supermarket in a while.