Skagway back to Whitehorse with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Skagway was a lot of fun.   The South Klondike Highway takes us from Skagway, back to Canada, onto the Alaska Highway and into Whitehorse.   Our last look at Skagway is beautiful.

Skagway with cruise ship

A cruise ship is in port today and the sky is cloudy, adding a sense of adventure and uncertainty.

Birds gliding over Tiaya Inlet

Further along the Tiaya Inlet, the birds fly over the water toward the mountains.   Leaving Alaska, clearing Canadian customs, we stop at Goat Lake Hydroelectric Project.

Goat Lake Hydroelectric Project

Goat Lake is high in the mountains.   Much of Pitch Fork Falls is clear of ice.

Pitchfork Falls

We love waterfalls.   The mountain scenery is beautiful.   Such a large attraction for this drive.   Passing through Carcross, passing the Carcross Desert, we had to make another stop at Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake

We love the colors of the lake.   It seems that we are back in bear country.

Black bear

This black bear is in no hurry as he grazes by the road.   Something white is moving on the side of the mountain.

Dall sheep

Dall sheep are common in this area.   This one has been jumping around eating any available vegetation.   A sudden start from this sheep, and a few rocks slide down the mountain onto the road.   Our mini rockslide.   But enough to get us to move on.   But more animals.

Two grizzlies

Another mom and cub grizzly bear.   We certainly are enjoying seeing the bears and other animals.   The mountain scenery along this road is spectacular.

Love the rugged, snowy mountains

We were not planning on a side trip to Skagway, but we are so glad we went.   Skagway is fun, but this drive is outstanding.   And no traffic.   We hope you see this area for yourself.   It is beautiful.

Farewell to Soapy at Gold Rush Cemetery, Skagway, Alaska

Sadly we are leaving Skagway.   But one more stop before we really leave.   Less than 2 miles from downtown Skagway is Gold Rush Cemetery.

Gold Rush Cemetery, Skagway, Alaska

This is the final resting place of Soapy Smith, the human.

Soapy Smith’s obituary

Quite the obituary.   Our Soapy Smith Duck wanted a photo with only him and his famous human.   This is a sad moment for Soapy Smith Duck.

Soapy Smith’s tombstone

Now for Frank H. Reid, the reason Soapy is resting here.

Frank H. Reid

The sign continued saying Reid died from the gunshot wound.  Credited with fatally shooting Soapy Smith, Reid is still considered a hero of Skagway.   Ried, the surveyor, was responsible for laying out the Skagway townsite in early 1898 and he named many of the streets in Skagway today.    Frank Reid, the town hero, has the tallest and biggest tombstone in the cemetery.

Large tombstone for Frank H. Reid

Plenty of room here for all our Colorado Traveling Ducks.   Of course the wild days of the gold rush provides many stories.

The Unknown Men

There are a few unknown men, but this story is the most interesting.

Tombstones of Unknowns

A couple tombstones for unknowns.   We believe one is our not successful bank robber.    The last tombstone that caught our attention is that of Martin Itjen and his wife, Lucy.   **

World’s largest golden nugget. Martin Itjen grave

This may be the world’s largest golden nugget.   Really a gold painted boulder, chained to a tree.   Martin created the ultimate tourist attractions.   **

Martin Itjen

Martin Itjen

These signs in Skagway’s Gold Rush Cemetery say it best.   Further research told of Martin taking his street cars to Hollywood to promote tourism to Skagway.   Martin was born in Germany, immigrated to Florida, then to Skagway to find his fortune.   That didn’t work out so well, so he became an undertaker, and then turned tour promoter.   Such a varied life he led.   Martin and Lucy Itjen were the last people buried in Skagway’s Gold Rush Cemetery.   A nice path leads from the graveyard, up the hillside, to Lower Reid Falls.

Lower Reid Falls

We all love the sounds of water.   And, yes, these falls were named for the town hero, Frank H. Reid.   Along the sides of the rock, we like these crevices.

Crevices in rocks at Lower Reid Falls

The vegetation is rain forest type; the temperate climate from the water makes this an interesting place to visit.   Before we leave, one more photo.

Lower Reid Falls

Mom must have taken scores of waterfall photos, but I told her, only two can go in this blog post.   After all, this is Colorado Traveling Ducks, not humans.

The Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska

The moms are discussing the Red Onion Saloon and a “quickie” for the brothel.   What?   A quickie at a brothel?   That does not sound good.   But, we are going to the Red Onion Saloon.

Red Onion Saloon

Now we ducks see the sign for a “quickie” brothel tour.   In the gold rush days, Diamond Lil Davenport, was the owner and madam of the Red Onion.   It was a classy bar and brothel.   OK.   We are ready for our tour.   Here is our guide.

Our guide. Stairway to Heaven

She is standing on the Stairway to Heaven and we will follow her.   This is the small room where one of the working girls lived.

Small room for working girl

A customer would enter the Red Onion and choose a doll.   The dolls resembled the working girls.   Dolls wore similar clothes, same hair and eye color and resembled the live girls.   When chosen, the doll would be turned around, to indicate the lady was no longer available at the time.   The gentleman was escorted to her room and the business transaction occurred.   When they were finished and the time was expired, the girl would drop the gold coins through a hole in the floor.   The noise of the arriving coins told the bartender that the lady was once again available.   The doll was turned around and the process began again.   The gentlemen were only allowed on the upper floor if escorted by an employee or in the room with the lady.

Working uniform

Perhaps this was a working girl’s uniform?  But look at this dress.

White satin dress.

A beautiful white satin dress.   After 100 years it is still beautiful.   This is the largest room.

Larger room for Diamond Lil

Diamond Lil conducted her business here.   Diamond Lil was born in 1881 in Butte, Montana.   She only entertained obviously rich clients who could pay handsomely for what she offered.   She also had three requirements for her clients.   First they had to have a clean bill of health from a doctor.   Second, they had to show financial ability to pay.   Third, and perhaps the most unusual, they had to provide a reference.   A reference???   Diamond Lil stood about 6 feet tall and had a diamond in her front tooth.   This photo of Diamond Lil was displayed at the Red Onion.

Diamond Lil Davenport

Perhaps she is not today’s vision of a sex goddess, but she was very much in demand during the gold rush days in Skagway.   Diamond Lil died June, 1975 in Yakima, Washington at the age of 93.   Leaving the Red Onion, we headed toward the train station, and saw this on the way.

Plow for train

A train engine and this huge snow plow.   The mountains between Skagway and Whitehorse receive several feet of snow every winter, so clearing the train tracks is a necessity.

Plowing ahead

This sign explains a little of the plowing process and the amount of snow to be removed.   The White Pass and Yukon Route train station in Skagway is still in use.

Train Station

The train no longer travels between Skagway and Whitehorse, but shorter rides are available for tourists.

Train for today’s tourists

We rode this tourist train about 20 years ago, when we cruised the Inside Passage of Alaska.  It is fun and interesting, but Chloe was not welcomed on the train, so we didn’t ride it again.   However, if you are in Skagway, we think you would enjoy this train.   Skagway was developed as a mining town, so we admired these hopeful prospectors.

Hoping to get rich

This was a hard life, but many dreamed of riches and tried gold mining.

Prospector and his dog

This prospector and his dog seemed to stop for a rest.   Back to main street, even the tourist shops reflect the importance of the train.

Train is important in Skagway’s history

And we enjoyed shopping in the many jewelry and gift shops.   We did bring some items home also.   Skagway is a great town.   We hope you visit some time.

Skagway Alaska with Soapy Smith and the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Walking along the main street in Skagway, Alaska, look what we saw.

Girls in the window

These girls in the window.   No, they are not going to jump.   They are inviting all to come inside to see the show.

Days of ’98 Show

The Days of ’98 Show is the longest running musical in Alaska.  Mom, what is this all about, and why is Soapy Smith featured?   Our Soapy?  One of the Colorado Traveling Ducks is named Soapy Smith Duck.   Our duck was named after the notorious and clever outlaw, Jefferson Randolph Smith.   Jefferson Smith earned his nickname, “Soapy” while in Colorado.   The human Soapy moved around and eventually settled in Skagway, Alaska.   Let’s go inside and see the show.

Dancing in the saloon

The girls from the window are dancing, showing ruffles and garters.   Let’s check them out now.

Saloon girls on the bar

On the bar?   Mom, this is crazy and fun.   We like it.   The human Soapy Smith owned and managed this bar in Skagway.   He was well liked, but a little on the wrong side of the law most of the time.

Saloon girls with Brad

This is Brad.   He was a chosen volunteer from the audience.   Brad was very gracious about this, and even let the girls get him in different clothes.   The saloon girls are fighting for Brad’s attention.

Soapy Smith with girl on the bar

This is the human Jefferson “Soapy” Smith with a saloon girl.   The entire musical was about Soapy’s life in Skagway, and also his demise.

The talented cast

Our very talented cast was wonderful and we all appreciated them very much.   This was a very enjoyable performance.   When you are in Skagway, we recommend that you see The Days of ’98 Show.    Now back outside.

Grizzly’s General Store

Downtown Skagway still feels like an old mining town.   The wild Alaska feeling is everywhere.   Even Grizzly’s General Store.

Skagway Brewing

And the necessary Skagway Brewing Company.   The history is preserved.

Alaska Geographic National Historical Park

The Alaska Geographic National Historical Park, highlighting the Klondike Gold Rush.

About the gold seekers

You can walk where gold seekers walked.

Skagway’s main street during the gold rush days

But I’m not sure I want to live like gold seekers lived.   People rushed to Skagway on their way to the gold fields.   The population of the town really grew, and quickly.  This is a great town to visit.

Skagway Welcomes the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We arrived in Skagway, Alaska.   That means we once again left the Canadian Yukon and went through US Customs to get to Skagway.   As we stopped at US Customs, our guide book said we should see a glacier in the mountains above the Customs building.   But there was so much snow on the mountain that our moms could not distinguish the glacier from the snow.   We were happy to arrive at the port city of Skagway.

Welcome sign

Our first stop was the Westmark Hotel.

Mural on side of Westmark Hotel.  Ducks on the sidewalk.

This mural for the Westmark caught our attention.   Skagway became famous during the gold rush in the late 1890’s.  The Skagway Westmark will be our home for the next few days.   Wandering around town, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center.

Visitor’s Center. Former Arctic Brotherhood Hall

This is the former Arctic Brotherhood Hall.   The outside facade has more than 8,833 pieces of driftwood sticks arranged in a mosaic pattern.   Included are the Brotherhood’s AB letters and symbols, a gold pan with nuggets.   The entrance shows the year it was first used by the Arctic Brotherhood.

Visitor’s Center historic entrance

These buildings are really old.   That could be because Skagway is the oldest incorporated city in Alaska.   It was incorporated in 1900.   Skagway is a year-round port and one of two gateway cities to the Alaska Highway in Southeast Alaska.   The other is Haines, Alaska.   Inside the Visitor’s Center, we were greeted by friendly, informative people.   You can really see the driftwood sticks on the counter here.

Counter insider Visitor’s Center

We got helpful information here and loved this building.   Nearby we stopped at the Remedy Shoppe.

Remedy Shoppe. Alaska’s first legal marijuana store

Alaska voted to legalize marijuana a couple years ago.   The remedy Shoppe was Alaska’s first legal marijuana store.  We did not purchase anything there.   We ducks and humans do not need or use marijuana.   Our home state of Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana.   Isn’t this trolley great?

Skagway trolley

We love trolleys.   But wait.   What is this?

Skagway Chamber of Commerce sells duck race tickets

The Skagway Chamber of Commerce is selling tickets to the Duck Derby.   We have so many relatives here.

Duck Derby or Duck Races coming soon

We have duck races at home, but we didn’t expect to see them so far north.   Hi to our distant cousins.   The City of Skagway has an interesting museum.

City of Skagway Museum

This museum is just a block from main street.   Very convenient.   Looking down main street, you may notice that these old historic buildings are all constructed from wood.

Historic old buildings in Skagway. All wood construction

That could be a disaster if a fire started.

Public ashtrays to protect historic wooden buildings.

The city is doing its best to prevent fires.   Please put all cigarette and cigar ashes here.   Let’s all do our part to keep Skagway safe and historic.   You may notice some photos show sun and dry streets and other rain and wet streets.   We were only there a few days in May, but we experienced rainy mornings and sunny afternoons and evenings.   So if you are there, remember the weather can change.

Leaving Fairbanks and Alaska with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are heading home??  What?? There is so much more to see.   We ducks do not want to go home yet.   Our moms say, don’t worry.   We will stop often on the way home to see different things than last year.   And a few of our favorites that we want to experience again.   OK.  Leaving Chena Hot Springs, our first stop is Salcha, Alaska at The Knotty Shop.

The Knotty Shop.

This is a great store, featuring items made in Alaska.   The name, Knotty Shop, comes from the knots or bumps (burls) on the trees.   Last year we stopped here so you can read more about it in older posts.   This year we purchased some clothing, t-shirts, sweats, and socks.   Also another Ulu knife.   A hand carved wooden basket, jewelry, Alaskan made jam and, of course, ice cream cones.  Lots of time shopping, so we spent the night at Alaska Steakhouse and Motel in Delta Junction, Alaska.

Alaska Steakhouse and Motel in Delta Junction, Alaska

At Delta we officially began driving on the Alaska Highway.

Heading southeast on Alaska Highway toward Canada

Beautiful scenery as we head toward the Canadian Yukon Territory.   We stopped at roadside rest areas often.

Roadside pullout. Great areas for walking and enjoying scenery.

Stopped to appreciate the breathtaking views.   Also, Chloe likes to get out of the car and do a little exploring.   So do the humans.   While driving, as we completed a curve in the road we startled a black bear and he ran down a path into the woods.   He was so cute to watch.   Of course, too fast to get a photo.   We arrived in Tok, Alaska, the last Alaskan town on the Alaska Highway.

Burnt Paw gift shop. Tok, Alaska

Our first stop was the Burnt Paw.   This is a great gift shop, a snack area, motel with cabins, and source of eqipment for dog sleds.

Tok, Alaska. Burnt Paw

Isn’t this a great dog sled at the store entrance?  More shopping.  Souvenirs, gifts and treats for Chloe.   Next stop in Tok was Fast Eddies.

Fast Eddies in Tok, Alaska

We stopped for food and it was delicious.   Since it was Mother’s Day, Fast Eddies was treating mothers to free dessert cupcakes.

Mother’s Day complementary dessert from Fast Eddie

We had Red Velvet and Lemon Meringue cupcakes.   Very tasty and we enjoyed them.   Thanks Fast Eddie!  Continuing toward the Yukon, we crossed the Tanana River a few times.

Tanana River in Alaska

We like this river.   You may remember last June we rode on the Tanana River while on Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks.  We have arrived in the Yukon.

Enter Canada’s Yukon Territory

We cleared US and Canadian customs.   We stayed in Beaver Creek in the Yukon.   Beaver Creek RV and Motel was our home for the night.  Camping is a very popular way to travel but we prefer to stay in hotels.   At the campground we did enjoy these carved statues of early pioneers.

Historic figures in campground

The Visitor’s Center is across the street.

Yukon Visitor’s Center

The lady there was very friendly.   She even invited Chloe, Soapy Smith Duck’s dog, to come inside.  She likes dogs and told us about her sled dogs.   She told us much about Beaver Creek now and about Beaver Creek in the past.   Very interesting.   She suggested we stop at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church built around quonset hut

Isn’t it a quaint little church?   This church was built around a quonset hut left over from the days of the Alaska Highway construction.   Please take a little time to explore any town you visit.   We always find some interesting and unexpected things.

Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, Alaska with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Today is a nice day, in the 50’s, but we are going into the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs, near Fairbanks, Alaska.   Chena Hot Springs, located 60 miles from Fairbanks, is a year round destination.   Today we will show you the Aurora Ice Museum.

Aurora Ice Museum

Made of over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, all havested at the resort, the Aurora Ice Museum opened in January 2005 and is still frozen.   You can visit with a guide only and the inside temperature is 25 degrees F (-7 degrees C).   For much of the year, inside the Aurora Ice Museum is warmer than the outside temperature.   Our guide opened the door, admitting us and our group to a small room.   Here we put on parkas, free for our visit inside.   Opening the next door, we are ready to go inside.

Entering through second door

There are many ice sculptures.

Ice sculpture

Most of them are lit, colors reminding us of the Aurora, or Northern Lights, visible only in the winter.   The lights in the sky are not visible in the summer, as it does not get dark enough.  The interior ice walls are also carved.

Interior ice wall

The walls, everything within the museum and the museum itself are all made of ice.   There are many ice sculptures.

Ice sculpture. Jousting

Jousting forms in ice here.   Face of ice.

Ice sculpture

Inside the ice museum are a few bedrooms to rent.

Entrance to bedroom

Let’s enter one of the rooms.  Intricate bed.

Ice bedroom

Yes, that really is a bed made of ice.   Lots of furs and blankets needed to sleep here.

Another bedroom. Ice bed

And another room.

Ice bed in different light

Let’s see this bed without the effect of colored lights.  We loved seeing this place, but we don’t want to sleep here.   It could be exciting, but we think it might be too cold for small ducks.   Heading back toward the entrance, we stop at the ice bar.

Aurora bar with ice bar stools.

Of course the bar is of ice.   The bar stools also are ice, but with fur cushions for more comfortable sitting.   Appletinis are available from the bar.   They are served in these ice glasses.

Martini glass made of ice. Yours with purchase of martini

You purchase the drink and the glass is yours.   To leave, we must be escorted back to the small room where we return our parkas, and then out the front door.   The Aurora Ice Museum is fascinating, but pretty cold.   The doors must be kept locked at all times to insure the proper temperature to preserve the ice.   There are world recognized ice sculpturers on staff here.   They are usually making new sculptures and also making many ice glasses.  You really should see this when you are in the area.   This is a great Alaska place to see.