CRUISE  ALASKA

 

Gail and I are fortunate that we live close to the Port of Vancouver and the ready availability of the cruise ships that travel to and from Alaska each year. We have lost count of the number of cruises on which we have embarked, but it must be between 8 and 10. We are most often accompanied by our daughter Tracy and her husband Paul Wakefield, but have also had our sons Blair and Lawrence and Grandson Forest with us on occasion. We never tire of the beauty of the BC to Alaska coastline, or of the shipboard life. The following photo’s have been taken over many years.

Leaving the Port of Vancouver. Canada Place is in the middle of the photo; note another ship ready to leave on the far side of the Pier. It is always a kick to leave and enter this setting.
Sailing into Juneau, Alaska. The weather swings in Alaska can be very dramatic from low cloud to brilliant sunshine. Juneau is the Capital of Alaska. It is the only State Capital that is not connected to the rest of its’ State.
One of our favourite stops in Juneau is the Red Dog Saloon. On the left a brown bear chases a guy up the centre post. On the right, Tracy Paul and Lynn enjoy a beer. The place is always busy. A guy on the player piano sings Gold Rush songs, tells jokes and insults people entering the bar.
There are three other main stops on an Alaskan Cruise. On the left is the fishing and logging port of Ketchikan. A busy little town of 4,000 people. One of the regular sights to watch here are the salmon streaming through the city centre on their way to spawn in the Ketchikan River.
The centre photo is of Sitka, once the Capital of Russian America. It still has a Greek Orthodox flavour and the church at the end of this street is visited each year by a Russian Archbishop.
On the right, the Gold Rush town of Skagway. If you look closely you can see a cruise ship parked at the end of the street. This town was the jump-off point for the Klondike Gold Rush in the period 1896 to 1900. Both of the primary Gold Rush trails left from Skagway, being the White Pass and the Chilkoot Pass. The winter population of Skagway is about 800; but in the summer up to 8,000 cruise ship passengers can fill the town on any given day.
A beautiful scene, taken early morning near the entrance to Tracy Arm, which is a long fjord reaching inland to a pair of glaciers constantly feeding the ocean.
This photo was taken along Johnson Straight which separates Vancouver Island from Mainland BC. This area teems with sea life. We have seen killer whales, sea lions, seals, dolphins all in one afternoon. When the sockey salmon are running, there is a continuous stream of long line fishing boats from one end of the straight to the other.
One of those “must do’s” if you have a stop in Skagway. A railway was built in the last century to carry concentrates out and supplies in to the mining areas of the Yukon. The track runs from Skagway, up the White Pass to the Canadian Border, then on into Whitehorse. It follows “The Trail of ’98”, the trail used by the gold rushers to transport their loads of supplies up to the headwaters of the Yukon River. They then built rafts to carry their loads over 400 miles downriver to  Dawson City. The train has been re-established in recent years to carry tourists form Skagway to the Canadian Border. It is a fascinating run. Note the cliff sides and deep gorges that had to traversed.
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