Thursday, June 21, 2007

Alaska Diary Day 5 - Thursday May 10, 2007

Today we stopped in Skagway. This is the best part of the trip, I think. We paid a chunk of money to go on a train ride up to the mountains. it was AMAZING! It is the same train line that they built during the gold rush to move miners up and down from alaska to the Yukon. It was so beautiful, so cool. WE started off pretty close to the ocean level, but ended up so high in the mountains that there was snow everywhere. Luckily we got the last car in the train so we had a stellar view out of the back. I spent most of my time out there. i think it was too cold for many of the guests so most just stayed inside, but what the heck, us Manitobans think the weather up there was pretty mild. It was so cool to be on that old train ride. rocking. i took so many pictures!
What is really interesting is that the train crosses the US/Canadian border. It was sort of cool to be in Canada, but sort of a pain as well. The reason being is that before we got off of the train we had to wait a long time for Canadian customs to come and check us all out, and then when we went back to Skagway on the bus we had to pass through American customs again. It all seemed sort of silly.
On the way back to Skagway we were able to stop at Dead Horse Gulch. It is one of the harshest parts of the gold rush trail, and many many many of the miner's horses died while going through this area. I love history. It was so cool to be in this place where there is so much interesting gold rush history, that was awesome. Which brings us to our next excursion.

Before we went to the cruise ship we stopped at Liarsville. Liarsville is sort of like a museum village where visitors could see and walk through a replication of the original liarsville village/campground. It was called Liarsville because it was where most of the newspapers during the gold rush was stationed, and they had a local reputation of just making up wondrous stories of miners finding crazy amounts of gold. Everyone in the area knew that these stories were false, but people who got these newspapers out of town trusted them and it was the reason why many many hopeful miners came to Alaska and the Yukon to look for gold. pretty cool. We watched a little show which included a dramatic poetry reading of "The Tale of Blasphemous Bill" by Robert Service (I LOVE Robert Service!) and some other cool stuff. Mom got called up on stage - isn't she hot?

After the show we got to pan for actual gold. It was fun, but freaking hard and I can't imagine the frustration of these hopeful miners when their dreams of pounds and pounds of gold are traded in for a very hard and very arduous process of panning for gold nuggets/specs/dust. It was fun, but we all sucked at it. The gold we got we only did because we sort of cheated and didn't use the real techniques we were taught. It was super fun! For sure I won't be able to retire with the amount of gold I did pan.
The town of Skagway is pretty fun. Full of lots of history. There is a great story of the local mobster, Soapy Smith.


Lori said...

I was waiting on the edge of my seat for three days waiting to hear more about your trip to Alaska! It's been very interesting, can't wait to hear about the rest!

Tricia said...

So now that Alaska is done, I really think you need to go to Norway. It rocks.

Or you could come to Iceland with me.