Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘Carcross

Alaska Trip: Part 7

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The final leg of the land tour was supposed to be by bus to the Yukon and White Pass Railway and thence by train. Unfortunately we learned in Whitehorse that a large rock had fallen on the tracks and that trains would not be running until it could be removed and the track repaired. This came a blow, but it was not entirely bad. First, the bus ride down the highway is considerably faster than the train, so we could have an extra hour in bed and still get to Skagway in time for lunch on board the Volendam. I got really lucky as unusually when we boarded the bus, the front two seats by the door were empty. So we got a great view for the road trip.

We started at Miles Canyon, which we had visited the evening before on our own, but the bus stayed on the top and there was no time to get closer to the water. We had a brief stop in Carcross and had a pleasant chat to the young lady in the station. There is a tour that allows for bus and train travel between Whitehorse and Skagway and there is usually room for people who are not on cruise ship excursions, though obviously booking in advance is still strongly preferred. Since we have family in Whitehorse and Terrace an independent trip is going to be fairly easy to sort out.

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On the other hand we still had to cross the international border and, as you might expect, the BSA did their very best to be as awkward as they could. The tour guide had the manifest she had used on the Air North flight from Fairbanks to Dawson – but that was unacceptable as it is supposed to be submitted in advance. I suspect this might be because someone has to enter the passport data in some computer system – and the border guards preferred that everyone line up and put their passports through computer’s scanner. This might have been arranged better but someone in front of the bus had their own highly complex transaction to complete first – and only one guard was actually available. Apparently they were completely unaware that the train was not running, nor where they able – or prepared – to make any suitable arrangements. As usual the whole performance of “security” has to be followed even in the complete absence of any discernible threat.

There are, of course, no pictures of the border crossing. The scenery was amazing – and we did indeed see the engineers train working on the track on the other side of the canyon. I was on the wrong side of the bus and missed that shot.

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Once we got to the ship, we had to go through the same performance to “check in”, and we decided not to eat on board but explore the small town. The Skagway Brewing Company is strongly recommended not least for their innovative use of spruce tips in place of hops. Spruce tips are, as I am sure you know, an excellent source of Vitamin C.

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I had seen from the bus where the trains were being stored – and we also found that there was a city sponsored shuttle bus. Pay $5 on exit on the first ride, then get a hand stamp and ride free all day. I think I must have got a shot of most of the current roster of the W&Y as well as a few historic locos displayed in the town.

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We had previously travelled on the Volendam from Vancouver to Sydney, so it was very familiar to us.  And as part of the deal we had a complimentary dinner booked in the Pinnacle.

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Up next: Glacier Bay

 

Written by Stephen Rees

June 14, 2018 at 9:55 am