Tag Archives: Alaska

Skagway and Dyea

After our day in Juneau, we took it easy that night since we were arriving in Skagway the next morning. We didn’t have anything planned in Skagway and after our Juneau disappointment, I really wanted to find something fun to do. Instead of booking an excursion on the ship, we decided to see what they had to offer off the boat. We found a little excursion hut run by M&M Excursions. That was the same company that ran our cancelled excursion from Juneau. They already had great intial contact with us, notified us of our refunded Juneau excursion immediately, and were overall pleasant, so I felt pretty good going with them.

Our first choice excursion wasn’t available (train ride then bike ride) so we went with our second choice which was just a bike ride through the rainforest and the ghost town of Dyea (pronounced DYE-e). The timing gave us a couple hours to walk around town beforehand, so it worked out perfectly.

We also visited a lot of the local stores.

It took me more time to get that than it ever should have.

If you go on a cruise to Alaska and  Juneau and Skagway are two of your ports, I recommend waiting to buy souvenirs in Skagway. We noticed Juneau was far more expensive and had the same stuff (but less of options). We were annoyed that we bought a few things in Juneau that we found cheaper and better in Skagway.

Before leaving, I had read that Blockbuster Video was still a thing in Alaska and several stores were still thriving. I think it has something to do with spotty internet up there, but I can’t quite remember. Anyway, I was excited to visit a Blockbuster and relive my youth. Unfortunately, we did not see one but we did run across a surviving Radio Shack. The most diverse Radio Shack in the land at that. Not only did they rent videos there (and have new inventory)!

But they also sold mattresses.

(You did not read that incorrectly.)

(I’ll let that sink in for a second.)

If a Radio Shack sells mattresses in Alaska, does it make a sound?

After touristing a bit, we stopped at the Skagway Brewing Company for lunch and a drink.

I can’t remember what anyone had, but we all liked it a lot and it was later recommended to us by a local, so we felt like we made a pretty good decision in picking it.

After lunch, we met at a nearby bicycle shop for our excursion. We had a short van ride up to the excursion area and were briefed on what to do for traffic (slow down and pull to the side) and what to do for horses (slow down and pull to the side) and what to do if we saw a bear (sing loudly together, but what song to sing was not covered in the brief unfortunately). We all picked up our bikes after that and were off. I will tell you, there is nothing like getting on a mountain bike to tell you that you need to stretch your hips. Sweet mercy, who has that leg span?

We followed our guide on some pretty rough terrain. There was a lot of uneven dirt road and gravel so staying on the bike and off my face was a challenge. We stopped in a bunch of areas and our guide told us about the history of Skagway and Dyea, which was really interesting.

Long story short, back in the day Dyea and Skagway were in competition with each other because they were the closest cities to salt water ports and catered to miners and traders. On April 3, 1898, Dyea has a massive snow avalanche that killed over 70 people. This is today’s view of the landslide site and the cemetery where most of the people killed in the avalanche were buried.

The landslide gave Dyea a worldwide negative view that started to keep traders and travelers away which basically led to Dyea’s downfall and let Skagway step in as the new leader instead of sharing the trading limelight, which Skagway did not want to do. This is the last standing building in Dyea – the front facade of an old real estate business.

We continued our bike ride to what was the Dyea waterfront area during the Klondike Gold Rush. This is what it looked like in the late 1800’s.

This is what it looked like while we were there.

Still a beauty.

Finally, we made it back to our starting point – the Chilkoot Trailhead which was one of the routes to the Klondike gold fields.

The bike ride took about two hours and we all loved it and our tour guide. Our guide was super into the history of Alaska and you could not tell that he was telling these stories to people several times a day. I appreciated that. It’s always nice when people seem to enjoy their work. Also something randomly interesting to me is that the locals called the continental U.S. the “lower 48” while Hawaii calls it the “mainland.” #themoreyouknow

After our bike ride, we rode back into town and stopped at the Red Onion Saloon for drinks and a pre-windjamming snack of a giant plate of nachos.

See us in there?

The saloon used to be a brothel and the upstairs has since been turned into a brothel museum. All the servers were dressed the part, which was fun, and they had brothel tours for $10 pp.

Another long story short, back in the day when a miner came into the brothel and wanted to go upstairs with one of the girls, the miner picked the girl he wanted in an interesting way. Behind the bar, there were 10 dolls that resembled and represented the 10 girls working upstairs. The guy would choose the girl by picking the doll behind the bar. The guy would pay his money, go upstairs, and then the bartender would lay the doll on its back to show that the girl was busy. Once the guy came back downstairs, the doll was put back upright to let everyone know that girl was available again.

The museum was pretty neat and filled with a lot of original antiques from the gold rush days. Again, our tour guide was awesome and I highly recommend checking it out. The tour was only 20 minutes long and worth the $10.

I tipped our guide at the end and she insisted I put the money in her boobs, so there’s also that to look forward to.

After the Red Onion Saloon, we moseyed back to the ship and enjoyed our general shenanigans.

We also learned you could eat the little flowers from the spruce trees during our bike ride, so we tried that out.

I recommend sticking with the nachos.

And that was the end of Skagway. We loved it there and were sad to leave.

The next stop on the trip was Victoria, BC. But I’ll save that for the next post otherwise this thing will never be published. Until then!

 

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Alaska Things

Last time we left off, we made it to cruise day. We checked out of our hotel and Ubered over to the port to meet up with Ken and Keke so we could get some early “windjammin” in. The buffet on Royal Caribbean ships is called Windjammer, and we have henceforth made it a verb. So our inside joke since our RC cruise to Mexico is that we windjam. We invite each other to windjam if we know we’ll be eating a lot and if our pants don’t fit, we windjammed too hard. But when we are on the ship, the windjamming is strong in all of us.

Ok, got off track there. I’m glad we got to the port early, because even as a Gold member, the lines to check in were crazy. Our friends, Cheyanne and her husband Ricky, were also cruising with us, but they arrived a bit later, just in time for the computers to shut down. It took them two hours to get through the line and the ship left over an hour late because of the back up. Thank goodness we missed that. I would not have been a happy camper. This was the line when we were there and that was already poking at my newly discovered claustrophobia.

While Cheyanne and Ricky were waiting in line, Ken, Keke, hubs, and I were already eating, drinking, exploring the ship, and checking out the port views.

Our cruise was 7 nights and it stopped in Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia. The first couple days of the cruise were at sea. I’d love to tell you that I spent my time seeing shows and being active, but we just windjammed and bar-hopped for two days straight. It was pretty gloomy and wet for half of the trip, so we used our imagination and drank champagne while taking in the “scenery.”

I did walk by the gym so that was pretty active of me. I also managed to climb the stairs instead of take the elevator for three days and ended up getting a stair badge I didn’t even know existed on my Fitbit. #fitbunnymom

Our first stop was in Juneau.

Stole the pic above straight from Cheyanne. I swear she was on the trip with us with her mom and her uncle. They all managed to allude my camera most of the trip. I do not understand how this happened as the girl loves a camera on her!

Back to Juneau. Juneau is an extremely small town and it’s Alaska’s capital. It was also the only port where we had an excursion planned. We booked a Mendenhall Glacier Trek which was an hour kayak to an ice cave that you can explore and then afterwards, you’re able to walk on top of the glacier. We were all really excited about this excursion, but…it was cancelled because the water was too choppy. Whomp, whomp. We were all really bummed.

Another tour guide tried to get us to book a helicopter ride and told us his excursion was the only one still running and all the other helicopters had been cancelled. I don’t know how he thought that was an enticing offer as I could barely see the mountains in front of my face from the ground. I was not about to pay to not see them from the sky too.

Instead, we all took a bus over to the Mendenhall Glacier because that’s what we really wanted to see. We hiked about a mile up to it and the weather cooperated for the most part.

Mendenhall Glacier is in the middle and on the right is Nugget Falls. Even in the gloom, it was still beautiful in person. I don’t think the pictures can do it justice. We spent some time getting close to the falls and taking pictures. I’m glad we had the experience, but it wasn’t what we had been looking forward to for 6 months so we were all a little meh about the day.

One thing that was really cool was seeing large chunks of blue ice floating in the water during the cruise and around the glacier.

We spent a couple hours at the glacier and falls and finally made our way back to the bus, just in time for it to start raining again. So we didn’t get lucky with our excursion but at least we did get lucky to not get caught in the rain.

Once we were back in town, we stopped at a tavern to have a drink and some dinner. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was the only tavern in town, they were insanely crowded, and had very entertaining liquor pricing.

Hubs and I split the reindeer sausage (delicious) and the crab cakes (super meh). We walked back to the shuttle to the ship afterwards because it was a little crowded in the restaurant for our taste. We were also pretty annoyed that we had to pay for the shuttle but no one ever took our ticket both ways.

So overall, Juneau is a really small town and there’s not much to do there so we didn’t love it. The whole excursion cancellation really put a damper on the area for us too because we were all *so* looking forward to seeing an ice cave and walking on a glacier, but what can you do? We made the most of our day, got back to the ship, and resumed our nightly activities of excessive drinking and windjamming.

Our next stop was Skagway which was infinitely better. More on that next post. 🙂

 

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Seattle Things

Two weeks ago, I returned from a nice, long, and probably my most deserved vacation. We flew out to Seattle for a couple days, then went on a 7-night Alaskan cruise with friends. Vacationing with friends is the best. Not the best on my liver or pant’s buttons, but it’s still the best.

We flew to Seattle on Wednesday and checked into this super cute boutique hotel called The Maxwell. They are part of Staypineapple hotels and have a pineapple theme (with pineapple cupcakes each night!). The room had wood floors and was super modern, clean, and comfy. I know I took several pictures of the cuteness that was our room, but for some reason they are not on my phone. Which means I must have taken it with my GoPro that was fully charged and ready to go but hadn’t been used in three years, so I think the battery died from lack of use. Of course, I didn’t realize this until I was on the cruise. I guess if you don’t use it, you really do lose it. Anyway, I have only cell phone pictures for the whole trip, and sadly none of the hotel except this one of hubs about five minutes after we entered the room.

Our good friends, Ken and Keke, flew out on the same flight as us but were staying with other friends that lived near our hotel. So they Ubered with us from the airport to the hotel so we could do some exploring before meeting up with their other friends.

We were starving for food and adult beverages after the long flight, so our first stop was a pub next to our hotel called McMenamin’s. McMenamin’s has only OK Yelp reviews but awesome food and service in our opinion. I had fish and chips, hubs had a fish sandwich with some amazing spicy tater tots, and Ken and Keke had a burger. All delicious.  Again, no pictures except for this one I got of the ceiling.

oh hai, dapper, juggling merman.

From there, we started exploring the area a bit. I’ve been to Seattle once before but it was hub’s first time, so we walked over to the Space Needle and got our tourist gold star for the day.

That day ended with a few beers at a local pub and an 8:30pm bed time because we took a nap that turned into a sleep.

The next morning, we walked to breakfast at a place called Citizen.

Man, we loved it there. We went back a second time we liked it so much. The atmosphere was chill, they were playing good music, the food was awesome. Just an all around good vibe. Hubs ordered a turkey, raspberry crepe that sounded terrible to me, but was surprisingly delicious. I ordered it the second time.

I also got a mimosa and a spiked iced coffee because when you can’t decide, you get both.

We walked around after breakfast for awhile and played Pokemon (Oh yeah. Someone out there still plays that game – and it’s me!) and did a little sight-seeing on our own. This was also the day that news broke about Chris Cornell and, as he was from Seattle, it was big news there. The local news stopped us and asked if we wanted to talk on camera about him but I was wearing no makeup and did nothing with my hair so that was not going to happen. But it was still kinda cool to be asked.

We met back up with Ken and Keke at our hotel around noon where we were waiting like special snowflakes in our special chairs. I prepared my face and hair accordingly in case someone wanted to put me on camera again. (They didn’t.)

We walked from the hotel down to Pike Place Market.

By the time we got there, we were starving and ended up eating at some place we just picked so we could all still be friends instead of what might have happened had we continued to go hungry. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was overpriced and mediocre. I didn’t take any pictures, but I ordered a cornbread salad which literally had no lettuce. It had cornbread – with salad toppings. I guess I should have seen that one coming.

After lunch, we were ready to actually see more sights now that we were on friendly terms again. We walked over to the gum wall.

Six months earlier, all the gum was removed for some renovation of the area. So that is fresh-from-the-mouth goodness.

We also walked through the market and quickly found the baby kidnapping area.

And took my favorite picture of the whole trip in front of the fish throwing area.

That was not intentional. Hubs was taking a picture of us on the left while a stranger took the one above. I laughed so hard at that picture when I first saw it, I almost needed to run to the baby kidnapping area.

As the market was closing for the day, we found this awesome little comic shop. Ken, hubs, and I each bought a mystery box. If you’re not familiar, they are little boxes where you can get one of 12 to 15 characters, and each character has a different ratio of being able to get it. We all got exactly the character we wanted, which never happens. Seattle luck, perhaps? All I know is we were three excited, high-fiving nerds. I got the Rick and Morty mystery box and got my little Mr. Meeseeks!

After our sight-seeing, we met up with Ken and Keke’s friend Tom for a few beers at an Irish pub that was just off the main market street.

Then Ken and Keke went back to Tom’s house while hubs and I walked back over to the Space Needle to get some dinner.

I know dinner in the Space Needle is the touristy thing to do, but I did it last time I was in Seattle and quite enjoyed it. So I wanted hubs to check it out too. We both had a great time. An expensive time but a great time – with an amazing view.

By the way, our other friends that were in town could not get a reservation for dinner there. Both times I’ve been to the Space Needle for dinner, I have not had a reservation. I just ask the host for a table. The host pretends they’re crazy busy, calls someone, and magically, they have space. So if you can’t get a reservation or don’t have one, I recommend that approach.

We ordered a bottle of wine with dinner and finished it, which basically meant I was finished for the night. We walked back to the hotel (or so I’m told) and I pretty much passed out. The next day, we boarded the ship. So more travel fun in the next post!

 

 

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