I crossed the border between British Colombia and the Yukon four times before hitting U.S. customs several miles north of Skagway in a dramatic, cloud-shrouded descent. After ten days of beautiful weather...the entire trip actually, the rains had arrived.
I imagine Skagway once a quiet village at seaside, her small houses remnants of gold rush panics and broken dreams. Today the highway entered from the north, a straight shot to the ocean where my gaze was stopped by a gigantic cruise ship, a sudden plug on a stream of consciousness. Once at the bay and the ferry terminal two additional monsters came into view. From Skagway's deep, mountain-studded harbor they dumped up to 10K shoppers a day onto the Disney-esque boardwalk, into the hands of t-shirt shops and diamond sellers that beckoned like car salesmen. Shop after shop of snazzy jewelers that had no reason to be there because these diamonds were not mined locally any more here than they would be mined in Juneau and Ketchikan...other port towns that sold their souls to cruise ship companies. For you see, the ship companies are instrumental in setting up these stores and have a financial interest in it as they ply their captive audience with want. It's a genius marketing sleight of hand. The new gold rush.
It cost $300-plus to board myself and my 42-feet of truck and trailer. It was one hour to Haines (10 miles as the crow flies from Skagway or 360 miles via the highway) and another 4 hours down shore to Juneau. A watery passage awash in sea lions and humpback whales who sought herring close to shore. Jaegars dove dramatic dives after gulls; marbled murrelets flew in pairs, their rapid wing beats inches above the water.
I was at sea...headed south for Juneau.