Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 29 - July 12th, 2010 Haines Jct, YT to Skagway, AK

Today we would travel back into the US along the southeast coast of Alaska.  Rather than back-track from Haines hundreds of miles, we'd take the short ferry ride from Haines to Skagway.  Was not sure of the ferry's schedule as we headed south on the Haines Highway but then our schedule is flexible.

The Haines Highway has quite a history and is certainly remote with no campgrounds or lodging.  We did see several small shelters along the roadway and this sign explained their purpose.  This highway appeared difficult to build and very remote but scenic.  Temps were cool and Tammy again mentioned her heated gloves not working.

The actual town of Haines was good sized but certainly felt locked back in time.  An old US military base existed here but was closed and the buildings sold to private individuals.  Impressive looking hillside with the large white structures covering the south part of town.

The town's ocean bay did have numerous ocean going fishing boats but was not modern or possibly deep enough for modern day cruise ships to readily use the harbor.  As such, the town gets less tourists than Skagway and other AK towns along the coast.

We found out while having coffee and rolls downtown that the ferry to Skagway left at 8:30PM so we had some time to kill.  Walked around the downtown area, again shot some pool in a historic bar, visited the National Bald Eagle Center for a few hours, and purchased ferry tickets for the evening's cruise.  Our ferry boat coming into port:

When we tried to purchase our tickets, our credit card no longer worked.  Had to use a different card to fund the $31/passenger and $31/bike.  Right after that Tammy had a cell phone message asking us to call the  credit card's fraud department.  Turns out they detected fraudulant charges on our card for nearly $4,000 for internet purchases in Great Britain.  They simply locked the card's usage until we could confirm their suspicions.  Card was cancelled and we would need to sign an affidavit when we got home stating the charges were not ours.  Need to be more careful with the credit card when purchasing gas and restaurant items.  Numerous gas stations require pre-payment in AK and CA, so I suspect an employee wrote down the numbers while I was outside filling the bikes up. 

They started loading the ship with RV's and cars about 8PM; we were second to last to load and tied our bikes down with available tiedowns.  Then went upstairs to be a cruise passenger for a hour.

We passed several large cruise ships on our way to Skagway.  Docking was so coordinated that one ship was backing out and we entered their spot in the Skagway harbor.  Very steep ramp for vehicles to exit the ferry here.  A big dock and harbor investment here.

When a cruise ship docked in Skagway, the downtown streets would flood with people.  The store owners knew the cruiselines' schedule and would open when the tourists arrived and close when they had to reboard their ship.   The cruiselines even owned several of the downtown jewelry shops.  Lots of touristy things to do in Skagway but simply too many people.  Sidewalks were so filled with tourists that most people walked in the streets.

We had called ahead from Haines to reserve a campsite once we knew how late we would be arriving.  Poorest campground I've ever stayed in and it cost an arm and a leg.  We didn't even stay in our assigned spot because it was inundated with mosquitoes.  Bathrooms were the pits; campgrounds must not require health inspections in AK.

Interesting but long day.  We actually slept very well despite our surroundings.

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