Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010

Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp

We have been in Alaska for over a month and had yet to go to a salmon bake for a meal.  We had several delicious salmon meals courtesy of Denny and Linda but salmon bake is one of the ‘things to do’ in Alaska.  Tomorrow we have a twelve hour excursion planned and the next day we leave Alaska so today was our last chance.

There is only one salmon bake in Skagway.  It is several miles out of town at a small 1898 themed tourist attraction.  It is located down a small road in the forest.  Only way to get there is by their bus.  There are several options for visiting Liarsville.  Meal only, meal and self guide walk around grounds (1892 style cabins and shacks, etc.), walk only, meal and walk and melodrama and gold panning.  We did the whole thing and had a tour saver coupon so one of us was free (don’t know which  :)  ).  The whole thing is set up and timed for cruise ship tourists.  From time we got there ‘till we left was two hours.

The bus picked us up at our campground at 11:00 am  and we then went to dock to get 38 cruise tourists.  The bus driver was very good.  Third generation native of Skagway.  On the way to the site he took us on a narrated tour of Skagway and pointed out sites and their history. 

DSC06042 White Pass Train


Tourist train that goes over White Pass.  Very popular with cruise passengers.  We didn’t do it.  We will drive same route in a couple of days.



DSC06049 Downtown Skagway


Full blown tourist day.  Yesterday (July 4th) was slow touristwise.




DSC06050 Liarsville sign

We started with browsing around supplemented with hot cider and animal crackers. (The whole operation is pretty low budget but still well done) 

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There was also a fire to sit by which was nice for many as the weather is still gray, cold, and windy. 


The melodrama was sort of corny (intentionally) but fun and ended with a demo of how to pan for gold filled with jokes and risqué comments. 

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One part of the show was an explanation of the derivation of the name of the spot.  That area is the last flat ground before going up the White Pass Trail.  In 1898 there was no train or road over White Pass.  (The famed Chilkoot Trail was one mountain west.  Both were the only land way to gold fields.) A sizeable tent city sprang up mainly to supply hopeful would be miners as they started over the pass.  Part of the population that came to this spot were newspaper reporters who had been sent to cover the gold rush and send their reports back to the outside world.  The pictures you may have seen of a solid line of men climbing a mountain of snow with huge packs on their backs are very true.  Getting to the gold fields could take six to eight or nine months, much of it in snow, ice, and sub zero temperatures.  The reporters quickly determined that they really did not want to do that.  Instead they stayed in the cozy tent city and from time to time would send reports back to their papers based on things they might have heard or just on their imagination but always painting a rosy picture with no mention of the real situation.  Hence the name “Liarsville”.

The panning was again low budget (very small amount of dirt already in pans and salted with two or three very small flakes) but the experience was there for those who have never done it.  Sure glad we did gold mine in Fairbanks though. 

DSC06061 panning ofr gold

The meal was basic but good.  Three types of salad, beans, dirty rice, corn bread, chicken available, cake, and grilled salmon.  Buffet style and seconds and thirds were encouraged.  All of it was tasty and at the prices we have seen around Alaska for salmon we got our money’s worth in the salmon we ate.  We did not need dinner tonight.



Entertainment during meal.






Following the meal we all got back on the bus for the trip back to town.  On the way the driver took a side trip to a spot that over looks Skagway.  A place we had not known of and would have missed. 

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We are camped in RV park just behind bushy trees, dead center.






A few pictures and back on the bus.  The driver dropped us off at the campground before going on to the dock.  All in all, an entertaining and tasty way to spend a few hours and add another Alaskan experience.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 2010

Independence Day in Small Town America.

The only way to celebrate July 4th, in a place that represents what the US is really about.

There were tourists (one ship worth) but many locals.  The feel was definitely small town, home town. 

It started with a kids parade in which every one got a prize. 

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Adult parade followed with lots of candy being thrown,  local girls basketball team (2010 state champs), old cars, clowns, flags for all, and no politicians. The Grand Marshal runs the local day care center. Parade is so good they do it twice.  Down main street, around the block at the end, and then back up main street. 

DSC05967 Here comes the parade


DSC04858 DSC05974 Grand Marshall


Grand Marshal




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Yes, they have a fourth of July in Canada.  :)






This group is from Whitehorse (also in Canada  :)  ).







The National Park Service is a large part of Skagway.














DSC06016 Bear and a trashcan


Don’t feed the bears!






Even a super hero!

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Games, food, fund raisers, etc.  Saw a takeoff on the dunk tank that was very clever.

DSC06033 Preparing the dunk tank DSC06036 dump tank in action

We walked around town, did some shopping (last chance in Alaska), and visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park visitor center and watched a video. 

The day was not wet but cloudy and very windy.  Not outside weather.  Mid afternoon back to carbus to catch up blogs, etc. and plan next two days.

July 3, 2010

The Carbus Floats to Skagway


There are two ways to get to Skagway from Haines with a motor home. 

One way is to drive up to Haines Junction, then down the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse, then down the Klondike Highway to Skagway.  This route involves more than 350 miles and two to three days of driving.

The second way is to take the ferry.  A journey of about 15 miles taking less than an hour and requiring no driving.  The price is about half of what it would cost in gas to take the driving route.  Also, sticking the carbus inside a boat sounded pretty cool.  The one (small) drawback was that there is only one ferry a day for that route and that ferry left Haines at 8:30 PM.  We had a day to kill in Haines and we had pretty much seen all of Haines on our walk yesterday.

The day started cold, gray, and wet and pretty much stayed that way.  We didn’t need to vacate our camp spot ‘till 11:00 so we stayed there, did some internet, and watched the view in front of us (ships going by, tide rising, etc.).  At 11 we moved to park on the street several blocks from downtown where we could still have phone coverage if we wanted to be online more.  After noon the rain stopped so we walked the length of Haines again.  About 6:15 we drove to the ferry terminal.  We bought passage for us, the car, and the RV, and then waited for the ferry to arrive from Juneau. 


It arrived right on time and after unloading people, cars, and a couple of motor homes we (and a bunch of cars and a few campers and trailers drove into the ship. 


Pretty roomy inside with space to maneuver large vehicles.  There was a bus already inside that had to be well over 40 feet long.  We parked and then found our way to the observation deck, checking out the layout of the ship along the way.  Quite nice actually.  Cafeteria, bar, gift shop,   lounges  with comfortable seating and tables for gaming (no food or drink in lounges) even a jigsaw puzzle in progress.  Many restrooms, showers, elevators, even staterooms for those who want them.  The amazing thing was the ride.  Think of driving  a very flat road with brand new asphalt. Now take away all vibration and tire noise and it still isn’t quite there.  VERY quiet and smooth.  We only knew we were moving because the scenery was changing. 



Haines, AK around point on right (in approaching rain).






Cruise ship headed down Lynn Canal as we headed up.





We arrived in Skagway at 9:30, right on time.



Approaching Skagway.






It took about thirty minutes to get the carbus off the ferry (Sue got off sooner in car).  With large vehicles is the FILO (first in, last off) method of loading.



Our exit route. Down ramp(yet to be lowered), turn left, then up ramp.






Some people have a tough life and too much money. 

Each of the rear decks (not enclosed) had several deep, plush, easy chairs.



We already knew that all campgrounds were full so we stopped by the police station to register and get directions to the city overflow spot.  On the ferry we learned that there were fireworks tonight instead of the forth.  We inquired when at the station.  11:00.  It was already after ten so we parked the carbus and drove back to the waterfront.  Very impressive display from two launching locations and it went on for a long time.

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