|Mementoes in my journal|
We'd just walked off the Alaska Airlines jet from Sitka, a 21-minute flight at 7 a.m. Our travel agent had booked us on a small plane fight with Air Excursions to Skagway that morning at 11, so we'd arrive in time to board the Yukon Whitepass narrow gauge railroad about 12:45 on one of my must-do trips. So we'd been up at 4:30 in Sitka to get ready, drive to the airport, drop off the rental car, and be on time for early boarding. We knew it was going to be a tiring day with so much packed into it. We had no idea what an adventure was ahead.
We walked up to the Air Excursions counter--one of three or four small plane counters at the Juneau airport, and asked the woman if we could make the 8 am flight instead of the 11. I stress about close connections, and we were flying blind since we'd not been here before. I'd been told that Skagway was small and there was no problem, but... .
|Juneau flight line, walking to our plane|
|Boarding the flight to Skagway|
Chatting away, he put on his headset, tested the engine, and rolled out on the runway we'd landed on in the jet not long ago. Off we went, into the cloudy sky for about a 40 minute flight to Skagway (The ferry ride back in two days would take five hours). As we climbed into the sky, behind us the Juneau airport stretched, and an Alaskan Airlines jet was rolling down the one runway.
I could tell Susan's tension, and a little of mine too, but soon the scenery and view just took over. Tyler apologized for the cloudy weather because he couldn't show us all the glaciers, and after getting up to about 2,000 feet, dropped down to about 1,500 feet below the clouds for a smooth flight...one he probably makes every day in almost all kinds of weather.
Watching his gauges--we were doing about 140 knots (150 or so miles per hour). At the low altitude you could see so much. As always, the scale and immensity of Alaska just overpowered my senses. I tried to treasure each of these few minutes in a small plane, and would do it again, just for the plane ride and looking at the stunning land. We were flying below mountains, drinking in views that were magnificent, but hinting of so much more.
Soon Skagway appeared in front of us, only a few blocks wide, with a runway on one side beside a river and steep mountains on another...a cruise ship docked near the mountains. I'm so glad we didn't take a cruise ship, for we would have missed this short trip of a lifetime.
Then he nosed the plane down, and the runway grew in size as we got nearer. I was reminded of videos of planes landing on aircraft carriers in WWII, but this was safer, and longer. Then we crossed the end of the runway, landed and taxied back to the terminal.
Climbing out of the plane, our baggage was unloaded from the nose area, we snapped a picture, and loaded memories beyond measures.
Hope you enjoy part of our flight....