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September 23-27, 1999

Skagway, Alaska, USA

Update by Jim & Andrew

We departed Valdez mid-day Thursday morning 09/23 bound towards Skagway,
Alaska. The total drive will be about 600 miles so we plan to head back
north to Tok and press on Thursday evening after a quick dinner at "Fast
Eddies" in Tok to get closer to Haines and the ferry across to Skagway. We
had secured reservations on the 7:45PM ferry Friday evening. Every time we
bounce back and forth between Alaska and Canada we gain/lose an hour going
from Pacific to Alaska time. At this point we don't know what time it is!!
After a dinner @ 6:00 or 7:00 PM of fresh halibut steaks and lots of
caffeine we press on to the Canadian border at Beaver Creek, Yukon. Motel
1202 or a campsite is our destination depending upon weather as it has
started to rain/snow. Motel 1202 (mile 1202 on the Alaskan Highway- creative
name!!) looks somewhat questionable from the outside but manager "Maurice"
gives us a deal on a HUGE remolded room on the second floor- 2 king beds, 1
single, 2 pullout sofas, kitchen and GIGANTIC Bison Head on the wall! Talk
about nightmares - Rufus whimpered all night. We are told this is a favorite
spot for the caribou & bear hunters - They pile them in. Andrew finds
Maurice and they disappear across the road to sight a Timber wolf and
Moose!! What a noise those big guys make.
We were up early with 350 miles to travel to catch our ferry at Haines,
Alaska to Skagway - the only way to get from one place to the other. We had
some hefty mountains to cross and the snow had just begun. We had slow going
for about an hour and then drove out of the weather. We traversed the
beautiful Chilkat Pass at 3500 feet and descended the other side down to the
sea and the port of Haines. Andrew sniffed out the local microbrewery and we
secured a "growler" of Haines stout, some well-heated bean burritos and
awaited the ferry departure. No comments on the results of the bean
Skagway found us at the luxurious "White House" B&B. This is truly a
wonderful B&B not to miss if you travel to Skagway - but make your
reservations early as they are always booked during the busy summer season.
They have a great web site too. Owners Jon and Jan were most gracious yet
did not have accomodations for Rufus & Cleo. We decided to let the puppies
sleep in the truck that night and then find alternative lodging for the
following two nights. Jan was most helpful in placing us at "Sargent Preston
's Lodge" around the corner. Our ferry on The Inside Passage south did not
leave until Monday evening.
Across the street from The White House B&B live Gary and Janilyn Hegen. She
was from Portland, OR and spotted the truck - who couldn't with all the
antennas and decals!! JW was quickly "propositioned" on the street and
Andrew and I were offered a home-cooked meal that evening. Janilyn works for
the White Pass & Yukon Railroad and Gary is a general contractor and
outstanding photographer. ( He saw Michael Slade's decal.
After camp cooking with white gas as the major "spice" this was an offer
that we could not refuse. We assembled at their house at 5:30 that evening
with local residents, Shawn, Ginger, Mark, and Heath and son Lucas to feast
on fresh shrimp, halibut chunks wrapped in bacon and grilled (WOW!!)
spaghetti and salad. What a great evening! Lucas was quick to show us his
awesome dirt bike that Andrew will try out after school on Monday. Janilyn
continued to outdo herself by providing us with complimentary tickets for
the historic 3-hour railroad trip up the famous Gold Rush Stampeders' White
Pass on the following morning. It is truly unbelievable how these 10's of
thousands of gold seekers hiked up this 65-mile trail to gain access to the
Klondike gold fields.
After the train trip, we grabbed a quick lunch at "The Sweet Tooth Café"
and off to another surprise - Janilyn arranged a helicopter trip to the
local glacier fields!! Andrew & I put on our required life vests and heaving
boots and lifted off bound for the 6500' West Creek Glacier - After 20
minutes of breathtaking flying over the mountain peaks we LANDED on the
glacier!! It was a truly inspiring event as we walked out upon this "Aqua
Velva" color blue ice shield. A moment we shall always remember.
Our day concluded at The Stowaway Café for the BEST fresh grilled Salmon
steaks and a bottle of red "Vino Collapso". Today, Monday we prepare the
truck and dogs for our four day Inside Passage voyage down the coast of
Alaska & British Columbia terminating at the border in Bellingham WA on
Friday 10/1. We are excited about the viewing of glaciers, whales and
multitude of wildlife along the coastline as we weave in and out of these
many islands along the route.
For those of you following our journey on a map, we depart from Skagway and
begin our travel southeast to the ports of Haines, Juneau, Hoonah, Tenakee,
Angoon, Sitka, Kake, Petersburg, Wrangle, Hollis, Ketchikan, Prince
Rupert, and then continue onto Bellingham, Washington. The ship we are
travelling on is the 418 foot "MV Columbia" flagship of the Alaska Marine
Highway System's fleet. She can carry 625 passengers & 134 vehicles and has
91 staterooms. Camping is permitted on the afterdeck and is free and very
popular. However we have been advised that we will probably need to
'ducktape" out tent to the deck to keep in secure in the wind!! Another
anticipated adventure awaits us!! We hope to be able to provide updates
during our weeklong voyage either when stopping in the various ports or
aboard via our satellite telephone.
Our travelling companions Rufus & Cleo continue to entertain folks and us
we meet. We have enjoyed a great expedition and look forward to our final
exciting Inside Passage journey and the comforts of home and family.

Later - Bon Voyage!! Jim Andrew Rufus and Cleo from The Pacific
Northwest and Skagway, Alaska - Gateway to The Klondike!!
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