On May 6th, 2012, the first cruise ship of the season started the "North to Alaska" runs. Who doesn’t remember “The Call of the Wild”? There were several film versions and they all depicted an untamed, rough and hardy land with a crude mix of society that braved the elements to grab for gold.
Some of the lyrics of the first verse are: Way up north (North to Alaska), they’re goin’ North, the rush is on! Even back then the departure point was either San Francisco or Seattle. However, it was Seattle that became the "Gateway to Alaska".
Seattle became the Port of Choice and retains that title today. Many ships leave from Pier 69 which is where we departed from on a cruise to Panama.
The fabulous views of Seattle from the balcony of our stateroom framed the Seattle Space Needle, nestled between the mountains and the sea. (Top photo). The harbor facilities (shown in the second photo) at Pier 69 are clean and modern.
As the ship heads out to sea the Seattle skyline is visible. Alaska still beckons but with a more comfortable mode of travel…the cruise ships. The lure to this vast wilderness hasn’t abated.
Only the reasons have changed…from searching for gold to experiencing the awe and wonder of a place twice the size of Texas that contains within its borders 3,000 rivers, over 2,000 islands and encompasses 39 mountain ranges.
Traveling to Alaska is done mainly from May through September because the long, harsh winters appeal to only a few while others tolerate the climate because it’s home.
I remember back in the 1970's, while on a trip through the Yukon and Alaska during the winter months, having to plug my vehicle into power each night so it wouldn’t freeze. On one cold and blustery night in a ramshackle bar, I can also remember an old duffer raising his rum glass into the air and toasting Alaska…”Up north is where the men are men…and the women know it!”
I often wonder if things have changed for any of the old-timers who are still around. Guess we'll find out when we take one of the cruises to Alaska.
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