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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

The Windy Place

~Saturday, September 10, 2022~

Day 818

Day 82 of Alaska Trip

A moving day that we won’t officially count as a “moving day” since we’re only driving 2 blocks to the main RV park in town….Pullen Creek. I got a call from Tray this morning that site #18 was ours if we wanted it. We drove over first to check it out thinking maybe we’d just stay put since we liked the peace and quiet that Garden City offered. But if you have an opportunity to be next to the fun of the town, that would seem more appealing. So we took it. Another advantage of being at this RV park is being close to the port where all the big cruise ships come in and out.

Today’s ships were Holland America and Princess Cruises, with a port big enough to hold 2 more. And the ships

keep coming until mid-October. Thousands of cruise ship passengers step off their boats into this small town daily. In 1 year, Skagway has over 1.1 million visitors by cruise ships alone. That is one busy port for such a small town.

With it being a Saturday and having the advantage of streaming, it was a football morning as we tuned into an intense college game between Texas and Alabama. Texas (unranked) had Alabama (ranked #1) nearly beat until a messed up tackle ended their chances. So frustrating!

By early afternoon, we took the Pullen Creek Stream Walk from our campground, to learn more about the town of Skagway, also known as Skaqua (meaning the “windy place” by the Tlingit people). It is one of the few “Inside Passage'' towns that you can access via road. In its heyday, it was the boomtown gateway to the Klondike gold fields in the late 1800’s. It is also home to the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, “the Scenic Railway of the World '' which we’ll have the privilege of taking this Monday…..a unique way to learn the history of the area.

But it also experienced a great tragedy with the sinking of the Princess Sophia, where 350 people lost their lives on October 25, 1918. The ship was bound for Juneau from the port of Skagway when a storm quickly blew the ship off course, which eventually struck Vanderbilt Reef in the Lynn Canal. After over 40 hours on the reef, surrounded by the storm, the ship sank leaving no survivors, save a dog who swam to shore.

As you tour the town, you can’t help but notice a prominent landmark on a sheer rock face about 400 feet above the valley to the east called Kirmse’s Clock.

Herman Kirmse was a jeweler/watchmaker who ran his business in the late 1800’s and in an effort to advertise his business, he painted a clock image on the side of the mountain. But it also became a tribute to the other independent merchants of the gold rush town. Other businesses eventually followed suit in this unique way of advertising their businesses as well.

Our first impression of the gold rush town reminded us a little bit of Ouray, CO with its restored historic buildings and small town charm.

The boarded sidewalks and meticulously maintained buildings seem like something out of a movie set.

Since we got a late start, many of the shops were closing up for the day once cruise ship passengers headed back to their boats. So we made note of what we wanted to return to tomorrow. We did manage to check out the brew scene at Skagway Brewery where they were having “Thai Night”. Apparently every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the summer months, their talented chef offers a collection of Thai dishes that are to die for. We are definitely putting our names in for tomorrow night. Everything coming out of that kitchen looked amazing. Next was a stop in their large gift shop where I became instant friends with the manager while Jeff looked over their t-shirt selection. She was very fascinated about our 2-1⁄2 year journey of being on the road, hoping to do the same thing someday. Hopefully we inspired her enough to do so. Oh, and the beers were delicious.

We had our Kachemak Bay salmon thawing back at the campsite with the creamy Thai sauce leftover from the other night, though we were short a vegetable. Note to self: stock up on groceries before coming to Skagway. The produce selection is at a bare minimum and costs a fortune as well. I couldn’t even find a tomato. The best we could find was bagged salad. I honestly think we’ll save money by dining out.

Thanks to our handy dandy Skagway Port app, we now know when boats are departing. So neat to see the ships all lit up early in the evening, imagining all the fun they were having inside as they’re unaware of all the behind the scenes prep to get ready for their 9:00/9:30 departures. Being so close to these ships brings back fond memories of my amazing Mediterranean cruise experience with my mom, sister and I together aboard Cunard’s Queen Victoria back in 2008. Hard to believe that was 14 years ago! And just like clockwork, the engines revved up and they were off being pulled to a spot to make their 180 degrees back up the channel. Tomorrow morning, we’ll wake up to 2 more ships ready to experience the charm of Skagway.

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