Day 4 and the boat is docked in Skagway. I found this out after a nagging hangover from last night’s “80’s night” in the club. Did I finally score with the hot chick on Deck 2 from Toronto? Later… Anyway, we woke up to a cloudy morning and I had a breakfast of powdered eggs scrambled and cantaloupe chased with a glass of pomegranate juice. Hey, the benny of a hangover is not caring what you stuff down your gullet the morning after.
I pre-signed for that White Pass train excursion and basically got an entire section to myself… maybe that was due to my not showering last night. Anywho, we left at 8:30am sharp and passed some old cemetery where Soapy Smith holds permanent residence there then started a nearly 3000-foot climb up the mountainous terrain. There were a couple of shapely honeys passing through and selling stuff other than their bodies so I passed and kept admiring the lush greenery amid the lack of civilization. Apparently, the Klondikers of the late 1890s kept to a minimum of disturbance while hiking up some 20 miles to the Canadian border. Those gold-seeking mo-fo’s must have been dirt broke as there would be no hot chance in cold hell that any of my buddies would dare hike up unforgiving terrain only for a shot at digging deep for a few specks of gold nuggets. The train ride itself is on some “narrow-gauge” track and mostly safe but, man, we rode over some piss-releasing sharp edges off the side of several mountains. Is the ride recommended? Hell, yeah! I mean, wtf else you gonna do in a tourist-catered-to village that normally houses only 900 crazy souls year-round? Quiz time for readers who have been to Skagway: What’s the logo phrase painted into the rock on the highway? And this blog will buy you a bottle of really good wine if you can name the year the original tressel route was replaced at a Mark Ryan-themed site by today’s modern trail. You have ten hours to submit one answer (and it better be correct and only the 1st correct answer gets the juice).
Being it late summer, I left the train when it arrived in the heart of Skagway and made a beeline to the nearby creek (Quickfire challenge: name the creek). Why? Heck, the salmon were running and if you have never seen a creek flooded with orange sushi-meat swimming UP a creek like stoopid wine bloggers toward fame, let me say this, it is a sight to behold. When you think about the cycle of life for a species, witnessing the determination of a fish on its last legs of energy, trying desperately to swim against a current of murky, freezing cold fresh water, only to deposit their joy juice/eggs to further the continuity of life, it is only then you realize… I need to settle down and sow my seeds! Nah… I can’t stand teenagers.
Skagway, the town, is like walking through a Western movie set at Universal Studios. There, on Main Street, is the most photographed building in all of Alaska… the Arctic Brotherhood building, with a façade constructed from over 10,000 pieces of driftwood. Of course, there are the gratuitous jewelry and souvenir shops but do take the time to wander the eight blocks and three side streets. I walked into an “Alaska liquor store” only to find wines from everywhere but Alaska. I found a free museum that featured exquisite trinkets made from baleen and walrus ivory nestled quietly in the back of a souvenir shop and a few excellent fish single-wide shops but I settled for the guarantee. And, that was none other than that oasis-in-a-tourist-trap in Skagway Brewing Company (established 1897). The building, like its brethren, is an old, early 20th century abode that houses an antique bar with a varied selection of whiskeys but the jewel is, obviously, the beers. You will not find any of its fine offerings outside the city and I chose to sample all the offerings and am happy to say the beer is highly recommended. Try the Prospector Pale (5.4%, 32 IBU), Chilkoot Trail IPA (6.3%, 60 IBU), Boom Town Brown (5.5%, 27 IBU), Blue Top Porter (5.7%, 30 IBU), and the Spruce Tip Blonde Ale (5.4%, 18 IBU, Spruce tips, and best memory of the tasting). I even went so far as to woo the bartender into pouring me a sample of the barley “wine” on tap. Trust me, you will enjoy the libations in Skagway, even if you are so gutless that you restrict your travels to the Red Onion Saloon, which offers good beers and a tour of the whorehouse upstairs.
After a mild sprinkle, I made a slow trek back to the boat by hitting as many souvenir shops as possible. I even patronized an ice cream shop where I hit on the scooper who turned out to be a third-generation descendant of this quaint town. I found the perfect shirt to wear on my next foray into the Tri-Cities… the design has an outline of the state of Texas COMPLETELY engulfed within the borders of Alaska, with the underlining statement of “Isn’t Texas Cute?” below. Yah, things aren’t always bigger in Texas after all, eh Benjamin Slime-ons of Nectarsucker (after being asked to leave from Alexa Nicole Cellars)?
This is one of the featured wines in the wine section of this boat. The placard states this wine as having “bold ripe and rich plum flavor. Excellent finish. $74.” You may have balked at the price but I was offended by the description situated right next to a live bottle of this. I am analyzing this bottle in my stateroom and I can tell you this has not much ado with anything plummy. And to think, people will pay $74 for this… I think when this “greatest generation” of folks die off, we will start getting more accurate descriptions of this wine. Amazing how some overhyped, unregulated advertising is used to sell a $27 bottle of fermented grape juice for a 47-dollar profit. Sounds great, right?
Well, so did the thought of discovering gold in the Klondike gold fields back in 1897. Tens of thousands of ignorant hordes of “get-rich-quick” seekers (similar to wine bloggers in search of free wine) left their livelihoods and hauled a ton of supplies up the White Pass from Skagway and Dyea, to Bennett Lake and Dawson City, in the blistering winter weather via the Chilkoot Trail. Take the train ride to understand how psychologically nuts these people were to cross forbidding terrain all for the miniscule chance at mining $100,000 worth of gold nuggets. I chatted with a nature fanatic and she heartily recommended any nature nut to venture out to the Skagway area as the trails are worth exploring, if for nothing else, the plain century-old history that is sizzled into Alaska lore.
As for other options, there are many as the seasonal workers fill every possible void of entertainment, from a ghost tour with goodtime girls ($40) to glassblowing ($200), a salmonbake ($75), dogsledding on land ($130), a 5-mile bicycling tour ($80), to a glassblowing experience ($200) or a tour deep into the Yukon ($200) and a gold dredge expedition ($170). If you are like Jen, choose the photo tour to Haines ($255) or the Haines Eagle Preserve and Lynn Fjord Cruise ($210) for some stellar one-of-a-kind pictures to wow your honeys. Yeah, and if you are some self-proclaimed “fitness buff,” there are trails that will challenge that tight, skinny ass of yours from 1 hour jaunts to multi-day heaves up the original Chilkoot Trail that those suckers hiked up some 100 years ago. Those who fail history are condemned to repeat its misadventures.
I stuck with the crab cakes for dinner as I was still stuffed from a glistening plate of smoked salmon at the Brewery, along with the ice cream (and a phone number) on the way back. Alas, I am consciously avoiding the line-dancing party up at the top of the boat while listening to some Billy Joel and Elton John renditions from the piano bar. As much as I want to support the boyz at their Indonesian Crew Show at 11pm, I need to save my mojo for the midnight dance party. That, and I gotta do some laundry as I’m not into turning my CK’s inside-out to represent a “new” pair of nut stabilizers. Oh, memories of college…
This wine was offered for $74 for the bottle. Here’s the deal: order this wine at dinner and whatever you don’t drink, they will cork it and keep it for you for the rest of the cruise. This works fine for us lush-hardbodies but what if you only sip a glass per night? Let’s call it this… you are S.O.L. First off, you got soaked for a $74 tab on a 27-dollar wine. That’s a $47 pouring and storage fee. It’s no wonder that savvy travelers like Scott sneak their own bottle on the ship! It’s bad enough on land when some “Blue Café” or “Suburban Grill” tacks on a $30 or 200% markup (whichever is greater) for a wine while dining, but to unabashedly gouge the traveler with a $47 upcharge on an inexpensive bottle and have it poured by some parrot from that wine-haven in the south Pacific is, well, it is like having your dick sucked by some chromosomally-challenged fucktard. When is some cruise line gonna just say… “Here’s the deal, pay a $50 fee and you can pop all the fuckin’ wine you can drink on this cruise and we will ONLY charge you the retail price of those bottles.” If Samy had given me that line, I’d be on my fourth bottle by now and to hell with Alaskan Amber!
Tasted at 60-65 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: dark garnet. Nose: cherry, black currant, plum blosson, red line. Mouthfeel: elegant and full-bodied. Tail trail: 10 seconds. Flavors: black currant, blackberry, black dirt, Nestle Crunch, dried branches, violets. Paired with spice beef, medium-rare. Good.
Alcohol: 15.0% (felt like 14.6%). From 1973 vines at Walter Clore-recommended site. Columbia Valley AVA. Old vines tend to produce low-yielding, concentrated-juice grapes. Aged 21 months in 54% new French, 15% new American, and 31% neutral oak. TA 0.52%. pH 3.88. 7200 cases. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $18. Paid: $27. Music pairing: “North To Alaska” by Johnny Horton. This is WAwineman… uncorked and cruising. Suck it!