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!