Alaskan Cruise 2023, Part 2

I have two more days to report of my Alaskan journey. This time, I’m covering Juneau and Skagway!

Both Juneau and Skagway have had escape rooms that closed within the past year. I’m quite sad that neither of these stops includes an escape room, but there are still plenty of geocaches at each to keep me engaged with puzzle-related activities.

In the morning, before reaching Juneau, our ship passed through Tracy Arm Fjord and got a peek at Sawyer Glacier. The views through the fjord were unbelievable, with sheer cliffs on both sides of the narrow waterway. What looked like trickles of water running from the mountains became gushing waterfalls and rivers when we looked at them through binoculars. Our ship had to turn around prematurely due to ice close to Sawyer Glacier, but we still got a beautiful view of everything.

The day at Juneau was warm but overcast, and it drizzled or rained most of the time we were off the ship. We left without a specific agenda- just a few geocaches in mind and a general goal to get coffee and find some souvenirs. Our journey was successful on all fronts.

There was a surprisingly high number of geocaches at or near the port, and getting off the ship, there were way too many people around to cleanly search. On the return trip, the port was a ghost town and we could search high and low without concern. My favorite geocache was one concealed in a fake mine shaft smack dab in the center of the port. Thousands of people came and went through the port without realizing a large box of treasure hid just out of sight!

We tried Heritage Coffee in town- I tried a decaf mocha latte – not usually my kind of thing, but I already had too much coffee on the day. It was pretty much just hot chocolate, but for a cool, overcast day, it was quite nice!

Our souvenir stop was at the Harbor Tea Company. The shop contained a number of locally blended teas and we grabbed a few varieties for family at home, plus a really intriguing “Harbormaster Blend” of noncaffeinated chai.

The ship stayed in port until late evening, but we headed back before dinner to get ready for the evening entertainment. I enjoyed listening to the musical guest, but the part I was most excited about was the Speed Trivia event right after the musical show. “It’s not about what you now, but about how fast you know it,” the tagline read. I arrived early and put my name into the bowl to potentially be selected as a contestant.

As the game started, I felt pretty good about my chances. Four buzzers were set up in a square, and players stand in the middle. Questions pop up on the screen for thirty seconds, and players need to hit the corresponding button to the correct answer. An incorrect answer ends the round immediately. The more questions a player answers, the higher the score. The questions were easy but sometimes a little tricky and some required reading all four options to make sure you don’t make a mistake. For example, one contestant was eliminated early with “Which of these is the largest: A) California B) Texas C) Idaho D) Moon.” It may seem silly, but scanning that quickly, it’s not that hard to see the state names and hit the largest state without seeing Moon on there.

When my turn came, I was ready. I planned to go a little slower than I otherwise could to make 100% sure I didn’t have a misstep like some of the other guests. The high score before me was about 400 points, but the top four would go to the finals, so I anticipated having some margin to work with. The first question threw me for a little while- when the question is “Which of these four items is not traditionally a breakfast food?” I saw “mashed potatoes” early but I was extremely cautious and reread each of the four options about three times before locking in the answer. It was realistically only 3-4 seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

After the first question, I started rolling. Other simpler questions were easier – something like “Peanut butter and _” requires only scanning for “Jelly” rather than reading all the options, so I was thankful each time I would get a prompt like that. For my last question, I hit the button just a moment after time ran out, but I was still happy with my score. Just over seven hundred, nearly double the second place number. No one else cracked 600 over the course of the night- I wanted another shot at it but my score was respectable.

The finals were hilarious. Each of the four top scorers stood in front of one of the four buttons and got instructions only to “hit your opponents” colors. I had yellow, and the guy with blue next to me and I joked about how we had no clue what that meant. I even asked for clarification- if we were supposed to run around and push the others’ buttons, but no- we were supposed to hit our own button to somehow target others’ colors.

We found out shortly by trial and error how it worked. The screen showed a spinning wheel with colored balls going around it. Hitting your button stops your ball, and the color of the wheel slide you stop on dictates which other player you’ve targeted. No trivia involved at all, unfortunately! I came up with a technique to at least never hit my own color- the wheel moved too quickly to properly target any slice, but I hit the button when I would pass my own slice, knowing it likely wouldn’t be back on my own color again by the time the button registered my press. It was a decent strategy but didn’t override the general element of chance with four players on the wheel- green was eliminated first, then me. Blue won the whole thing and got a T-shirt and water bottle. I got a deck of Norwegian Cruise Lines playing cards- not a bad memento!

The next day, the focus was on Skagway. I really appreciate Skagway; it’s a small town nestled between the mountains- quiet but with a lot of leftovers from its days as a railroad and gold mining hub. The main stretch of town has a nice little boardwalk with plenty of shops and cafes to explore.

We started the day following the shoreline through a wooded area to search for a geocache, then turned to town. On our way through town, we stopped at one of the town’s longest running souvenir shops- a place with locally-made Christmas ornaments- and we picked up a hand-painted ornament for a family member. We continued past the downtown area to hit a geocache, then checked out a few cafes.

No one has rice krispie treats! What started as a sort of joke has become a full-fledged crisis. Between our ship and the dozen coffee shops / bakeries we’ve visited, we haven’t seen a single rice krispie treat. For cruising, these have a special place in our hearts since we have many fond memories cruising the Caribbean on our honeymoon while getting a different type of rice krispie treat each day. We still have a few days left- maybe we’ll find one in Ketchikan!

After a lovely afternoon in Skagway, we headed back to the Norwegian Jewel. It’s been another full day. It’s a bit sad to think we’re on the latter half of our trip, but it’s been wonderful and refreshing to see so much nature!

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