Matt Hayashida, Iditarod Musher
In Skagway my family went on The Big Nugget Tour which included meeting Matt Hayashida (a veteran Iditarod Musher), seeing sled dogs get harnessed to a summer sled, holding puppies, learning to pan for real gold, going into a room that was 40 degrees below zero, touring a brewery, seeing a huge piece of mining equipment, and lunch.
We chose to do The Big Nugget tour instead of riding the White Pass train because I thought a 3 hour train ride would be boring for my very active family. It turns out, we made a great choice! The Big Nugget Tour was “touristy” but a whole lot of fun, and my kids learned a lot about Alaskan history.
Here are some pictures:
An old fashioned sled that kids could sit in.
Matt’s real suit. Behind it you will see the booties the dogs wear, plus bags for supplies at each stop. (The bags look like flags.)
One of the racing dogs.
The dogs practicing in their summer sled.
Holding a sled dog puppy who just licked me.
Panning for gold was my 8-year-old’s favorite part. He was convinced that he would actually strike it rich.
This was a huge piece of portable mining equipment that tore up the river, spewed out dirt, destroyed the environment etc., all for $800,000 worth of profit.
There was a Disneyland type set where you got to see what a mining camp used to look like.
My kids really remember this part of the tour a lot. They learned a lot about the Yukon Gold Rush.
Inside the tasting room. This isn’t a great picture, but the rest of them show my children. We got to taste several glasses of beer, root beer or wine.
Inside the brewery. My three-year-old wasn’t interested, so one of the tour guides took all the little kids out to the river to throw rocks. Nice!
To me, it seemed like the whole town of Skagway was a tourist trap. Most people don’t live there in the winter, and all of our tour guides were from Utah, New York, or other places besides Alaska.
But sometimes tourist traps are really fun. Our day in Skagway made a big impact on my kids, and was one of their favorite parts of the trip.