August 31st 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Park ranger giving a talk

A terrific night’s sleep.  We were nice ‘n cosy inside our “frame” tent + didn’t surface till 10, by which time the other 3 had gone.  Packed up + walked into town, the first stop being the railway where, as we suspected, the train to Whitehorse was too expensive.  Next came the bank – we were broke – then the supermarket to buy breakfast, which we ate, sat in a cold wind on a bench in the main street.  I also bought a pocket can-opener, a new knife (we’d buckled the other getting potatoes out of the fire), + a pot grab-handle.  By now, it was time for the 2 o’clock walking tour of the town, so we took that.  It was excellent, really very informative and interesting, + gave a real outlook into the history of the town.  However, it did start to rain quite heavily while the tour was going on, so as soon as it was over, we retired to the Red Onion saloon, the bar we’d been in the night before.  A very good place – good atmosphere, friendly, + we ordered one coffee + sat there, reading + writing.  We also played a couple of games of pool, and later on the guy of the trio we’d camped with came in – he’d been to Lake Bennett + back on the train.  We named him Tom II, not knowing his real name, and seeing as he was very similar to the original Tom (a bighead.)    Fortunately, with a good measure of luck, (him being much better than me), I was able to beat him 3-0 at pool.  In the evening, Val + I wandered out to take some pictures, to correspond with some old postcards we’d bought.

“New” Skagway
And Skagway then

We checked out an old deserted building to spend the night in, the ground being too wet for camping out, talked with Tom II a bit more, then returned to the Red Onion.  We ordered a beer for me, a Yukon Jack for Val, and sat at a table + played crib.  We nursed our drinks + played 3 games – Val won 2-1, each game being a total walk-over.  Then, since it was getting dark, we made our way to our house, picked our way across the debris inside, found a space + laid down to sleep.  We had both been very impressed by Skagway, + thought that it was definitely the sort of place to which we should like to return.  We would also like to have a go at the Chilkoot Trail, the miners’ trail to Lake Bennet – it was beyond our capabilities on this occasion.

The normal sort of snap judgment on the people we met.  Tom I, in case you have forgotten (or never knew) was the guy we took from San Francisco to Seattle, but I daresay that, had we got to know Tom II better, we would have turned into the best of friends.

Sleeping among the debris in an abandoned building was certainly a new low.  Alongside this came the growing realisation that we were not equipped to cope with the conditions this far north, and had nothing like the budget to live comfortably.

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