Alaska: Third Port – Skagway: July 2017

How I learned to spot bald eagles and about the carving of glacier fjords. Click to read more.


I hope that everyone is having a good week so far. We have made it halfway through and the weekend is in sight! I had a great time visiting my friends from West Texas A&M last weekend but more on that wandering at another time. Last Saturday we experienced the beauty of the Humpback Whales with me. Today we are going to soar instead of swim as we make our way to Skagway, Alaska.

July 5th dawned bright and sunny. Considering the past two days had been cold and rainy a sunny day was wonderful. By the time we woke up the ship was already at port. Looking out of the window, the first thing that I see are all these paintings on the wall of the cliff that is on the port side of where the cruise ships dock. On closer inspection I realize that they are the logos and flags of various ships, shipping companies, or special trips. There is one for Princess, and many smaller ships. One was dated from 1992, another from 1985. There was even a special one for a retiring ship captain. The neatest of all these paintings though was one completely unrelated to a specific ship. It is a giant skull plastered on the rock. Now, normally I’m not a fan of skulls but this one was just unique compared to the paintings around it.

My aunt, uncle, and cousins went ziplining. The rest of us went on a raft tour. We take a five minute bus ride to a different area of the port for smaller water crafts. Before we actually get on the raft they have us put on these bright orange coverall type things that are actually flotation devices. We decided that those suits should be standard issue in Alaska for tourist because they kept us warm and dry. The rafts themselves are similar to those lightweight motorized watercraft that you would use to get to shore from a larger boat. But these have been set up for tourists and have seats that you sit on like you would a saddle. 

Skagway sits at the end of a fjord and they drove us all over it. For those that do not know, a fjord is a glacial carved valley that is back filled with seawater. The one we are in is a mile wide and several hundred feet deep. The glacier that carved it was over a mile high. You can see evidence of the glaciers work on the rock above the waterline, their tops have been smoothed down. Also, random bit of information: on this trip my favorite word was fjord because it is fun to say. A few miles away we could see the city of Haines; it is fifteen minutes by boat or plane but 300 miles by car.

We got to see some amazingly beautiful waterfalls; one of which you could only see in its entirety from the far side of the fjord. Unfortunately the pictures of that one didn’t turn out, it just looks like a long white ribbon on a field of deep green. The edges of the fjord weren’t sheer but they were steep. As the raft sped down the fjord our guides taught us how to spot bald eagles. Bald eagles develop their white feathered heads at five years of age, until then they have brown feathers on their heads. The mature eagles ended up being easy to spot because their heads appear to be golf balls high up in evergreen trees.

Brooke had the camera for most of this excursion and she captured some amazing photos of eagles in flight. I swear that some of those birds were posing. They knew that they looked good and wanted us to have the pictures to prove it. In addition to eagles we spotted three harbor seals. One of which was new pup hanging out close to his mom. They all looked super cute with their big eyes and the way they just seem to bob in the water.

After our raft adventure we headed into Skagway to grab some lunch. Somehow, I managed to persuade everyone that we needed to go eat at the Skagway Brewing Company. It was definitely the most popular place to eat and the wait was at least an hour. My opinion when visiting an area is if you are looking for a good place to eat, go to the place that has the most people. And this was definitely the most popular resturant. After some time wandering the shops near the brewery while we wait for table we are lucky enough to grab some chairs on the patio where you can drink but they won’t serve you food.

Brooke and I decide to get a couple of flights for our group because that’s the best way to try the most beer. My personal favorite was the Boom Town Brown and Brooke enjoyed the Spruce Tip Ale made with Sitka Spruce tree tips. We finally get to eat and after lunch I decide that I’m going to take the Boom Town Brown back home to my dad as his Alaska gift. However, they don’t can or bottle their beer the only way that you can take it with you is in a growler. Up to this point I did not realize that growlers were a thing for beer, I had only ever used them for kombucha at the farmers market. So I get a growler full and we meander our way back to the ship. Mom and Drew go off to explore things on their own while Brooke and I hangout with our grandparents.

As we walk through Skagway I get to thinking that the cap on this growler is not exactly sealed well so I find a hardware store and purchase duct tape. Despite taping the cap I start to see that this might not have been the greatest gift idea and I haven’t even made it back to the ship yet. Also the growler heavy but I’m not getting rid of the beer. After more shopping and lots more random pictures we make it back to the boat. To get back on the Star Princess you have to go through a metal detector and put your belongings into the scanner, like at the airport. I feared they aren’t going to let me bring my beer back onto the boat.  To my relief they let me bring it on and I’m able to just stick it in the fridge in my room.

My Skagway adventure was an interesting day for sure. I was able to spend some wonderful time with my family, see some amazing wildlife, and drink a good brew. The tale of the growler is not finished however. Stay tuned for that. I hope that you have enjoyed the adventures at Skagway. We will continue with Alaska next Wednesday but I have a surprise for you all coming this weekend. Make sure to check back in this Saturday.

**Animal Images by Brooke McGee. Family Photo by our guide. Remaining Images by Laci McGee

13 comments on “Alaska: Third Port – Skagway: July 2017”

  1. What a delightful story! Love the pictures. The tour boat is interesting and love that eagle picture! And enjoyed the story on the painted wall. I didn’t see the skull until you pointed it out.


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