Friday, September 27, 2019

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park Visitor Center--Seattle Unit

Of all the museums you can visit in Seattle, this one probably has the longest name.   It's also awesome.

If you're interested in the Klondike Gold Rush or history in general, you'll love this.  And if you're in Seattle on your way to Alaska or the Klondike, just like the gold rushers, this will be of particular interest.  

The museum is extremely well put together.  I especially like how you can follow about six  historical characters' stories from Seattle to the Klondike and the aftermath of the Gold Rush.  I also love the "passport" they give you that you can stamp or do rubbings on at different stations.  The short film is excellent.  There are demonstrations, talks, and even walking tours.  The displays are good.  The signs are full of information about how life really was for these adventurers--not just dry facts and dates.  The museum is big enough to easily hold your attention for a couple of hours (or more), but small enough not to be overwhelming.  Just like its sister museum in Skagway, this is a fantastic place, made even more fantastic by the fact that it's FREE!  If you can, donate a couple of dollars to help support this awesome museum.  

Sobering statistics about who struck it rich in the Klondike (though many people who didn't find any gold at all talked fondly about how it was the biggest adventure of their lives):

Here's the wheel you spin to see if you would have been one of those lucky few:

I struck it rich!

Possible routes to the Klondike, all with pros and cons.  One station challenges you to decide which route you would take.

And here's a simple little packing list.  The Klondike Gold Rush was arguably the thing that turned Seattle into a thriving city.  Provisioning all those gold rushers was quite a boon for the economy.

Just imagine carrying all that up the Chilkoot Pass!  

For more on Skagway, Alaska and the Klondike Gold Rush, check out my article on Go Nomad: "Skagway, Alaska and the Yukon Route Railroad"

For tips on traveling to these places yourself, read my travel guides:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Grand--but Empty--Train Station

The magnificent train station in Seattle, Washington:

It's beyond beautiful.  But take a look at that departures board.

Here's a close-up:

This seems to be departures AND arrivals.  The evening's train schedule includes 6 entries.  And three of them aren't even trains.  I can't help comparing this to Prague's train station, where there would be four much-larger displays full of dozens of departing trains...just for the next couple of hours.  Or even the train station in Vsetin (population around 27,000), on a somewhat out-of-the-way rail line, where there are often 2-3 departures within any given hour.

I miss Europe.

I found the lone employee at the empty ticket desk at the Seattle train station.  He was, in fact, the only person in the whole building besides me and my travel companion.  I asked him how many train departures there are per day.  "Seven," he said, after a bit of thought.

That's far better than Arizona's options.  If you live in Phoenix, for example (capital city, biggest city in the state), your train options are these:

-Find a sketchy bus connection or a friend to take you to Maricopa, the train station out in the middle of nowhere, late at night, so you can catch one of the trains that leave at the impressive frequency of 3 times per week each direction (east and west).  Want to go north or south?  Sorry.  Want to go on a certain day?  Sorry.

-Take a bus for over 3 hours to Flagstaff, walk a fair distance to the train station, and if you've timed it right, take the one daily train eastward or the one daily train westward. 

Sigh.  At least our bus options are a little better.   And boy have we got freeways.      

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A review of my story, "Foreign Bodies."

I just got a mention in an article by Karen Burnham in Locus Magazine.  She reviewed recent science fiction and fantasy in Deep Magic, Constellary Tales, Samovar, and Strange Horizons.  That included my sci-fi story, "Foreign Bodies," published in Deep Magic.  It's one of my favorite tales from my Colony series. 

Read here to see what she said about my work:  Focus Magazine:  Karen Burnham Reviews Short Fiction

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

From my recent trip to Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska, mid August:

Sheer fjord walls carved by long-ago glaciers
Swimming-pool-blue water, the color caused by current glaciers depositing silt into water

One of the many waterfalls pouring into the fjord

For a bit of perspective, see that tiny-looking white boat on the bottom left?  It's not so tiny.  It's 143 feet long and has cabins for 54 passengers.

Views over the bow

Just another pretty view

Approaching Sawyer Glacier

Sawyer Glacier, impressive in white and blue.
We got far closer this trip than the first time we came. 

So blue and glassy on the far right side that I wonder if there was recently a big calving event there.  

Harbor seals hanging out on the ice.  Yes, those are all seals.
Here's a close-up:

And mountain goats

Sailing out in the afternoon.  A great day!

For more about Alaska...and how to see Tracy Arm for yourself, check out my books: