Tuesday, August 23, 2011


We wanted to visit Skagway and Sitka, but the State Ferry schedule didn’t allowed us enough time to do it, so, we will visit Sitka next time since the middle of our vacation time arrived and it was time to return.  We took the state ferry to Skagway, a one hour trip for just 15 miles.  The ferry was on time and offered a great service.  They had an emergency drill going on for few minutes (which is required and truly appreciated), it rained once again, but other than that the voyage was enjoyable.  For our surprise, there were three other motorcycles from NC!  They were also on their way back home.  Small world…  Oh! By the way, if you plan to take your bike, may sure you have at least two straps to secure it.  The supplies are limited… we bought the last two at the store (plus the prices are almost double)!

Securing the bike

Skagway is a beautiful historic town.  Remember the “Gold Rush”?  Well, we discovered many things but… we didn’t find any gold! L

We went straight to “Skagway Fish Company”, a well recommended restaurant on 2nd St.  From there we visited the Skagway Museum (here we could see a collection of Gold Rush tools and artifacts used by the gold seekers of that time), the Visitor Center (where you can see a movie about how the Gold Rush forever changed Skagway), gift shops and some jewelry stores.  There are many things to do in Skagway.  Hiking at the glacier trails, taking the White Pass &Yukon Route train tour, visiting museums, life shows where you get to play with the actors, and more.  You can stroll around on your own, or choose from various commercial tours available.  You might also want to consider a flight-seeing tour to Glacier Bay, the “world’s most beautiful rivers of ice”, or a helicopter tour to one of the local glaciers.  If you feel lucky, you can go and pan for gold at the creek, and have your own mini gold rush fever.
The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was build between 1898-1900
She wanted to trade bikes!

The average summer temperature range from 46 to 67 F, although it can get into the 90’s.  So, with a sweater at hand you will be comfortable all day long.  They get just 26” of rain per year (it all came down while we were there!).J

The opportunity of visiting original buildings and staying at the same place where all the excitement of those days happened made the whole experience come to live.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the hard work, difficulties, frustrations and risks these people had to endure.  Many of them succeeded in pursuing their goals of riches, but many others lost everything they had, even their lives.  The perseverance and determination of these people was so evident but yet, so uncertain due to the inexperience with the terrain and weather conditions.   There were cases of single women making their way among the men and some of them ended up in higher position that their counterpart.  Many others mined the miners with their much needed services.  People came from all over the world with the same purpose.  It was horrible what they had to endure, but yet, they tried over and over again.  Many gave up and returned back home with empty hands and shattered dreams.  This was not a game or a vacation trip.  It was the daily life they will be living for a while.

Skagway is a principal Port of Call for all cruises visiting Alaska (we could see the street full of people that have just arrived on a cruise), so you will see few cruises along the harbor.   You also have the possibility of traveling by air, vehicle (via Whitehorse, Yukon Territory) or taking the ferry.   Make sure you have reservations before hand or you might find some problems with accommodations.  We had the blessing of getting the last available room at “Sgt. Preston’s Lodge”!

So, we basically traveled the entire Golden Circle… Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Haines, Juneau, and SkagwayAlaska’s Garden City – in ten days.  We loved it and will definitely come back!!! J

Sunday, August 21, 2011


We decided to take a one day cruise to Juneau with Fjordland Cruise.  It was a wonderful experience.  The trip from Haines to Juneau takes 4½ hours.  We spent time watching whales (humpback and orcas), sea lions, bears (black and brown), bald eagles (of the 100,000 bald eagles in the world, about 50% live in Alaska), swans, mountain goats, and other wildlife.  The weather was not splendid but there was so much to see and do, that again, we put our rain gear on, and enjoyed it anyway.  At the cruise, they offered breakfast and dinner (delicious clam chowder). 

A Lighthouse for sale!

Once in Juneau, a tour guide took us on a bus to downtown, and after showing us around, he gave us 3 hours to stroll the town on our own.  We visited the museum, few galleries, and shops and had lunch (fresh halibut fish and chips).  We could see the governor’s residence (which is undergoing renovations at this time) and enjoyed the history of this place. 

Once the 3 hours period was over, our tour guide took us to the Mendenhall Glacier, where we spent 1½ hour.  The Mendenhall has a small population of bears and when salmon are in Steep Creek, right at the glacier area, the numbers of bears and viewing opportunities increase.  So, yes, there were some bears feeding on salmon… what a great diet! 

The Mendenhall Glacier was an experience on its own.  There is this beautiful blue glacier seating among five great mountains and waterfalls.  It was impressive to see the size of the icebergs on the Mendenhall Lake comparing to the people canoeing around it.  At the visitor center you can watch the 11 minutes movie, “The Magnificent Mendenhall”, enjoy the view from the observatory, listen to a ranger’s talk, explore the interactive exhibits, and peer at mountain goats and glaciers.  I couldn’t help but ponder a panorama of the icefield.  We took pictures, and more pictures… and then, some more! 

On our return, we shared experiences with other passengers and crew, and enjoyed another session of wildlife viewing.  We strongly recommend this trip to anyone planning on visiting Alaska any time.  You will love it!  

Poor Matt... running to the bus!

Question:  Does it always rain in Juneau?
Answer:  No.  Sometimes it snows!  They get about 150 inches of precipitation a year; they call it "liquid sunshine"  So, lets go to get a liquid sun tan!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Haines a Friendly and Lovely Place

View of Haines from the ferry

We have enjoyed a lot our stay in Haines.  We know most of the places in town, and met many other travelers and local residents.  The town is so small that the chances of finding the same people everywhere you go, over and over, are very high.  For example, Barbara, the lady we met at the museum, was at the same Mexican restaurant we went for lunch on Friday, and next day, we drove 33 miles to have lunch and guess who was there?... Barbara and four other girlfriends!  She introduced us to her friends and next thing we know, we were invited that evening to a birthday party. 
Some of our new friends in Haines
Dawn, one of Barbara’s friends was celebrating her birthday and wanted us to see the view from her front porch and share a piece of cake (since Matt and Lucy’s birthday was few days after hers), and play some board games.   We accepted the invitation and few hours later we were sitting at her table for cake and ice cream, and later, a scrumptious sockeye smoked salmon salad, and king salmon salad with pumpernickel bread.  We also played “MIT Chinese Checkers” (don’t ask me! lol).  Dawn’s husband was trying to help me while Dawn and Barbara helped Matt.  It was so much fun!!!

View from Dawn's porch

After couple of hours of chatting and playing, they asked if we would like to go to Lucy’s place (a beautiful Assisted Living Home right behind our Bed & Breakfast) to play music and sing hymns.  So, there we go… Lucy’s daughter played the piano while the rest of us spent a good amount of time singing hymns to the enjoyment of the employees and some of the residents.  It was like being at church!  We loved the opportunity to meet these great people and share such a special time with them.  We will always treasure these moments in our hearts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Something to Ponder Upon

Signs Forest, Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

Motorcyclists with camping gear

Have you ever wonder why motorcyclists like to ride so far from one point to another just to see places you can reach by plane, car or RV?  Many people think we are crazy!  Well, you might be a bit right about that, but allow me to tell you something... you have no idea what you are missing!!! 

While on a motorcycle, you are part of the surroundings.  You feel the air, the fragrance from the flowers and trees (of course there are some smells not too delightful at all), you see first hand everything that happens around you.  You can take uncountable amounts of pictures of every inch you see around you... many actually!

On our way to Haines, Alaska


Grizzly family eating fresh salmon
We love Haines!
One thing that is not possible to do for certain is to plan way ahead.  The weather condition, road condition and availability at hotels make this task a complete adventure.  Many people decide to spend the night on campgrounds and such, but in our case, we definitely prefer a nice hotel room, a hot shower, and a comfortable bed where we can have a well deserved night’s rest. 
Camping out, too close to the bears!
Sgt. Prestons Lodge, Skagway, Alaska
Additional to these facts, you have the opportunity to meet great people from all over the word that are traveling the same way, on motorcycle.  We have met people from Sweden, Germany, England and other places, which had shipped their motorcycle to the lower States, Canada or Alaska.  Once their bikes arrive they fly and get on the road for weeks.  It’s funny to see all the stickers from all the places they have visited.  It makes me think about doing that as well… maybe Europe next time?  Matt think there is yet much to see around here.  So, I will keep dreaming with the possibility. J 

Friday, August 12, 2011


We finally made it to Alaska on Tuesday afternoon.  We had some problems with the internet and couldn't post any updates, but here we go...

The journey from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Haines, Alaska was one of breathtaking views.  There was the common little rain and fog, and delays due to road constructions, but the landscape and mountains were so beautiful that we overlooked those things and enjoyed the ride.  


One of the few roads that lead to Southeast Alaska from Canada is the Alaska Highway and
Haines Highway.  Obviously they are trying to do maintenance on these roads before the winter arrives.  We noticed many "slide area" signs and those areas were being worked on. 
 On the way we stopped for lunch at the 33 Mile Roadhouse.  If you ever cross the border to Alaska on the Haines Highway, you have to stop there!  They have the most delicious fresh salmon salad sandwich, burgers, etc.  They also have a rustic looking gas pump (the first one after 202k of traveling).  If you seat on the porch, you have a good chance to see some bears roaming around.
We also found this really nice cottage, "Summer Inn Bed & Breakfast", right in downtown Haines, where Hanna the Innkeeper makes you feel welcomed and relax.  She maintains the place very clean and inviting and prepares a delicious breakfast which offers the opportunity to meet the rest of the guests in the house. 

We have walked the entire downtown area, and visited several Art Galleries, Museums, restaurants, the harbor, etc.  It is a charming little town with a lot of history and very friendly people and great outdoors activities.  There are various companies that offer sightseeing flights, but I’m not flying if Matt isn’t the pilot! J 

We were informed at one of the museum about the bears having dinner at the river around 7:00pm every night, so we took our Beemer, and down to the river we went.  That was the most spectacular experience of all!  There were a Mama Bear and its little cubs, fishing like pros.  They didn’t mind the people looking and fishing on the other side of the river.  We also saw a Bald Eagle on a tree top.  They come to the same place to feed.  It was a beautiful experience for both of us.  We loved it!


We decided to stay for a week here in Haines were we will take the cruise that goes from Haines to Juneau and back to Haines, and the following day we will take another ferry to Skagway, were we will continue our trip. 

Right now the weather isn’t too bad.  It has been raining on and off, but isn’t too cold.  So, with our rain gear on, we have made the most out of the days.J