By the time we woke up the next morning, we had already been docked in Skagway for two hours. Knowing we couldn’t pick up our car until noon, we really had no reason to rush out of bed. When I flung the curtains back that morning, I was a little disappointed to be greeted by overcast skies. I then corrected myself, with a firm shake of the head, “Overcast skies…really? I’m in Alaska, baby! Who cares if the sky is a little cloudy?!” The man on the balcony next to me was a little alarmed to hear me talking to myself, but frankly, I didn't care.
Dragging my “I-can-sleep-later-than-a-teenager” husband out of bed, we decided to just stroll around town for a bit after breakfast and kill some time before heading on over to Avis to pick up our car. We planned to drive the Yukon Highway into Canada and stop at Carcross Desert and Emerald Lake and wherever else we decided to slam on the breaks along the way. As avid four wheeler riders who enjoy riding the sand dunes, we were very intrigued to see this desert that is referred to as “The Smallest Desert in the World,” smack dab in the middle of the Yukon, no less!
Walking through Skagway I was amused to see many of the exact same shops that I saw in Juneau…and curiously they were just as crowded here as they were there. Isn’t it all the same stuff?? Anywho! We also found some absolutely charming little mom and pop stores that we happily browsed in while strolling the streets., along with a cute little ice cream shop that I made a mental note to stop in after we returned the car that afternoon. Hey, a girl has to plan her meals!
Armed with our passports and our camera, we picked up our car and followed the easy directions out of town and onto the highway. After a quick stop at the border, hence the passports, we quickly climbed higher and higher into the gorgeous spiky mountains. All of a sudden, we hit a wall of fog like you wouldn’t believe, and literally could not see five feet ahead or five feet to the sides of us. Then just as quickly as the fog swallowed us up, it spit us back out into the blazing sunshine, revealing a landscape unlike anything I had ever seen. Gorgeous blue skies, grey and brown mountains with snowy peaks and shadowed crevices, green mossy covered rocks along streams, and tiny little pools of crystal clear water. “FAKE” was the word that came to my mind. It was so stunningly beautiful it looked fake. But it obviously wasn't, and I truthfully felt like I was looking at a painting that God had made just for us. We pulled off to the side of the road to walk around a little bit and to take the first of roughly a million pictures. We joked that little gremlins and hobbits were surely going to pop out from behind a rock and wave at us, because that is exactly what you would expect to see in a fairytale land.
Knowing we had about an hour and a half drive ahead of us, we decided to continue the almost deserted highway toward Carcross. The entire way it was like watching a tennis match, looking left then right then left then right, so that we could take in the constantly changing landscape. We saw snow gauge poles mounted along the sides of the road, and they stretched up to an amazing 12 feet tall. Can you imagine snow that deep?! WOW! Carcross was just as promised, a small one square mile area of sandy dunes in the middle of the mountains. It is actually a false desert that was created by glacial lakes retreating and leaving behind the dunes, and it was a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape.
Our next stop was Emerald Lake, and it surely lived up to it’s name! The lake was the most beautiful emerald green color, with rings of lighter and brighter green colors rimming the outer edges near the shore. It was a perfect turnaround point for us and after spending time taking pictures and taking in the gorgeous sights, we decided to make our 75 mile trip back to Skagway.
We had until 8:00 PM before we said goodbye to Skagway, so after we returned the car we decided to hop back on board for a quick nap before dinner. Why is it that you sleep SO GOOD on a cruise ship? After waking from our late afternoon snooze, we woke up craving fish and chips and decided to search it out in port rather than eat dinner on the ship. We made our way to the Skagway Fish Company located right near the dock. It was obvious from the looks of all of the bearded men that were seated at the bar that locals frequented the tiny restaurant…and boy could we understand why. After an amazing meal of halibut fish and chips so fresh it was practically still flopping on our plates, we reluctantly waddled our way back to the ship. While we were anxious to get back to our “home”, we were sad to leave yet another fabulous little Alaskan town. Skagway and the amazing Yukon Highway offered up never-to-be-forgotten sights and experiences that we would surely remember our entire lives.
Silently gliding away from the dock at 8:00 pm sharp, we bid Skagway a fond farewell. Possibly the only thing keeping me from being too terribly sad was the knowledge that tomorrow would surely hold even more eye candy. Tomorrow…Tracy Arm Fjord!
To be cont’d…